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Should I train an employee software or sub out?2/14/21
I run a small 5 employee custom shop. I'm getting more and more work stacked up and I myself seem to be my companies biggest bottleneck. Mainly drawings and project management is where my time is going. My lead fabricator is moving out of state soon and I'm going to experience a real loss in productivity that will take some time to get back. I'm a little overwhelmed to say the least, oh and I have a 5 month old at home.
This is one of the most common questions on the WW
IIRC the consensus was it is easier to train a cabinetmaker CAD. Apparently, contrary to public perception, there is something to know about cabinetmaking.
I have done it both ways when I subbed it out, I was doing mostly store fixtures, which did not require as much understanding. When I have done it in house one guy bounced before I got any ROI, the other was a skilled draftsman and a degreed engineer who also bounced before I got much ROI of the 3 subbing it out was the better way to go.
But with the right guy I would go with training him in house architectural students are not going be around for long IMO
In any case you are doing the right thing in replacing yourself
I perfectly fit the description of your in-house employee option. I learned cabinetry from the ground up in a small shop, eventually moving into the design and engineering end of the operation. With a deep understanding of how we build and install cabinets I am able to design and engineer in a way that makes it easier for the people in the shop and at the jobsite. When the workload requires, I can still go out on the floor to work. IMHO It would seem the best ROI would be to elevated the employee you have to do drawings and, if necessary, bring in another person to learn the cabinet building. I'd say it's easier to teach cabinet building than to educate a drafter on the best ways to do your drawings. Good luck.
One option I have considered for the in-house employee option that you fear will get lost in the detail is to get have the conversation with them regarding the issues and concerns. If they are eager to give it a shot set them up with some initial work with the caveat that they will do a percentage of it during their work day and initially a larger percentage they will work to refine at home on their own time. If they want the reward of a change of pace/some additional compensation, and they want to commit to the task and present you with exactly what they've seen coming into the shop in a timely manner, they will likely be willing to work as many of the kinks out on their own time as possible. The ol' skin in the game thing. You show me that you can get up to speed quickly and your not going to be sitting at the screen for hours for a project that should take minutes, and you get the work.
"Always Inspect what You expect"
"To manage it you have to measure it"
At a shop I worked at a million years ago, workers on the floor all wanted to get into the office to do detailing . As often as not they would comment they wanted back on the shop floor.
Don't take the time to train a cabinet maker. I'm a little confused why you think you need a cabinet maker to enter numbers. Don't you have all your standard practices and methods in your software?
I was in this situation decades ago.
I bought a computer and AutoCad LT. In three months Icould draw the most basic stuff. In six months I was able to draw the millwork for a restaurant in New York City.
Most importantly , I understood what the guys in the shop needed on the plans, and I was also able to catch and solve design problems as I drew stuff.
The people I know that really draw what they are building seem to learn only enough to draw what they are building, and pick up more as they need it. With custom products, it seems to be easier to learn how to draw something than it is to learn how to build something. Bringing that building experience and design sense to a new tool will empower the employee to make the business run better.
Knowing little things like not putting 1 1/2" screws into wood that is 1 1/2" thick is hard to pass on via GitHub.
To Rich C.
You voice a legitimate concern. I see the same issues with machinery technicians that don't understand how to make a cabinet and even though they understand the nuts and bolts of repairing a machine the quality of the output is often not up to par with the machine owner's standards. It's the little things that separate competitors and you run the risk of someone not familiar with casework doing your drawings missing those little details.
With either option you will have a learning curve and training needed. Nobody is going to hop into a job like this and know it all. One will know software more than the other and one will know cabinetry better than the other. The question is which one will be the best for you long term. Somebody doing some freelance side work is great, you work with them for 6 months and have them up to speed and he gets a big job offer and his wife has a kid. Look at all the what if’s. Having an employee in the building means you can look over his shoulder and say tweet this, this and this and show me after lunch what you got.
Hi, we are currently experiencing the same issue. We use microvellum and are having a hard time finding a person that knows the software and understands millwork.
We are currently looking for a young woodworker that wants to learn the engineering side of it because we feel that it would be easier to train a young woodworker with computer skills vs a person that just knows autocad. Reason I wouldn't train one of our shop guys is because they are old-school craftsmen. Trying to teaching them to use the computer we'll that's just something I don't want to experience lol..
My experience with freelancers hasn't been positive. You have to find a dedicated freelancer that will take the time and get to know the way you guys do things. Most just want to draw quickly and collect.
pay wise, freelancers we paid between $50-$85hr (but we're done with freelancers)
Our in-house engineers make entry-level to experience $22-$42hr
I'd say start with the employee since he already knows your shop and the way you already do things. Also it might be easier to find someone to replace him in the shop vs someone like him to put in the office.
Thanks for all the good advice.