Best Practices for Developing CAD Budgets


Developing a thorough CAD budget is a critical component of any CAD management plan. Though it probably doesn’t top the list of any CAD manager’s favorite tasks, preparing a good and realistic budget is the only way to assure your users will have the tools they need to get their jobs done. Be realistic and thorough in your estimates and take your time. Be patient in establishing a needs analysis that accounts for everything your department will require over the next year. This might take several weeks, but budget shortfalls can be disastrous and can lead to both your users and higher management losing trust in your management abilities.

While every CAD budget plan is different, here are a few best practices to help you when developing an effective budget document.

Keep lines of communication open with your boss. This is extremely important. Keeping your boss up to date on any issues that might affect your budget estimates (out-of-date hardware, training needs, etc.) and making sure you are aware of any future changes affecting the overall corporation (mergers, acquisitions, poor or good business outlooks, etc.) can have a significant impact on your own budget projections.

Emphasize productivity boosts and cost savings. Instead of whining about the hardware and software you would like to purchase for your department—especially in this dismal economy—stress to upper management the productivity boosts and cost savings that would result from such purchases.

Account for everything. CAD managers often get mired in big budget items, but keep in mind that consumables—ink cartridges, paper, memory sticks, toner, backup media, etc.—can add up to significant dollars throughout the year. Other items to account for include training expenses, new software and hardware, annual software subscriptions, hardware licenses, as well as CAD management costs.

Document everything. Once you’ve established your laundry list of budgetary needs, it’s time to start writing everything down in a spreadsheet and collecting supporting documentation for cost and quantity estimates (quotes, previous purchase orders, receipts, etc.) and assemble in a budgeting documentation folder.

Have your peers review your budget document. No one is perfect. Having a second party, or several, review your proposed budget can give you peace of mind or alert you when something important has been inadvertently omitted.  Better to refine the budget prior to submitting it to higher-level management than to discover budget shortages later.

Make sure it’s in an approved format. Most companies have an established budget format or standard budget spreadsheet in which they would like budgets submitted. Submitting your budget in an established format will improve the chances of it being favorably received by upper management.

Get started early. Nothing gets done well when it’s rushed so don’t wait until the end of the year to get started on preparing next year’s budget. Because the smallest details are extremely important in determining a thorough CAD budget, it’s crucial to take your time in the planning and preparation of the document. Good budget documents are planned, tweaked, and reviewed over several weeks of time.

Image by RambergMediaImages

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  1. Mike Dugdell
    Posted Jan 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Hello folks. Speaking of budgets, can anyone help me with estimating the amount of CAD hours for a communications system/electrical project “red line” update of a drawing that already exists in CAD? Assume that all the existing drawings need a complete re-draw, that is, that nearly every line (cable, conduit, power, etc) EXCEPT the actual building structure itself will need a change. Assume a simple single story building of 100,000 square feet with all the usual systems : HVAC, Electrical, IT (network, fire, security, voice, intercom, cctv).
    Is there a methodology or basis available to help estimate the amount of CAD hours needed to create/adjust/finalize drawings?
    Thank much for any help or guidance.

    • Lindsey Christensen
      Posted Jan 16, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Hi Mike,
      I would suggest you start a discussion on this topic in the Creo community. Go to
      Good luck!

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