After attending two State AIA conventions, I believe I have a better understanding of where architecture firms are coming from these days. I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of people from both the Alabama AIA Conference and the Mississippi AIA Conference. Both conferences were first class with excellent hotels, conference centers, and a large pool of national speakers.
As I talked to people at each event, I saw that the majority of the firms are not current on their release of AutoCAD. I am not one to suggest upgrading as soon as a new release hits the shelves just for the sake of upgrading, but I do evaluate each release to see if there are enough new features to make it worthwhile. Many of the firms that I spoke with are currently using release 2004, and were unaware Autodesk is in the process of retiring this release. If you are one of those firms, you should contact Alacad for an upgrade quote before the prices increase.
I was also not surprised to find many firms own Architectural Desktop, but are using it like AutoCAD. I heard many excuses as to why they are not using the ADT features. The main things I heard over and over again were that they do not need 3D, or it just doesn't work well to produce construction documents. Well, after listening to these reasons, I think it all can be summed up in two words - NO TRAINING. There are many advantages to ADT that can be used to increase your production in a 2D world. Autodesk is currently featuring a series of web casts on this very topic. Check out Amy's webcast if you fall into this category. Watch Amy's Screencasts
I did find several firms that are leading the troops into the world of BIM. I applaud them for their willingness to step out onto the cutting edge. Of the success stories that I heard, they all claimed that they would never go back to plain AutoCAD. This says much for the advantages. Will there be problems? Will there be times when you just don't get it? Will your production decrease on the first several projects? The answer to all of these questions is yes, but after the bumps clear out there is a huge increase of productivity. More importantly, however, is the assurance you will have that your documents are coordinated. When using a BIM (either Revit or ADT) your callouts will be correct, your schedules will match your plans, and your plans will match your elevations.
So I propose two challenges for the firms of Alabama and Mississippi. First, stay reasonably current with your release. If your release is 2004 or older, then upgrade now before it costs you more money. Second, if you are a proud owner of ADT but you are still using it as AutoCAD, get the training necessary to use the ADT features.