3 Keys to Implementing Computational Design

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In the recent Applied Software webinar, “Computational Design: A Guide to Implementation,” Anthony Zuefeldt, Christopher Riddell and Donnell Grantham described a framework you can work from as you implement better ways of doing things. Implementation is the second step in establishing a computational design (CD) process in your company. The first step, your strategy for CD, discussed in the Applied Software webinar “Develop an Organizational Vision and Strategy with Computational Design,” needs to be in place before you can implement successfully. That strategy roadmap, with support at the leadership level, needs to align with your business goals and include a plan for the way you want your implementation to proceed.

The guidelines to success and keys to a successful CD implementation include:

Plan your culture shift 

Successful CD implementation involves a culture shift, challenging the status quo of the way things have been done.

  • Most importantly, you must educate the staff and raise awareness of your strategy and plan. They need to be committed to the implementation.
  • Develop ways to create visibility and spur excitement with the staff. This might include lunch-and-learn events, an intranet or monthly update memos. Let everyone know how CD will help the company move forward.
  • Everyone should be encouraged to provide continuous feedback and ideas. A good rule of thumb is that 70% of the staff should be educated on using CD; 20% should have the skillset to do basic troubleshooting and editing; 10% – the select group – should have the skillset to create and lead future solutions.
  • As things unfold, evaluate how your culture shift is going. What questions are being asked? Is leadership engaged? Is a pipeline developing with staff ideas to improve the process? Are they comfortable with the process?

Democratize usage

The CD process needs to be accessible to everyone to achieve long-term success and firmwide adoption. Riddell explained, “The more inclusive your process is, the more successful it will be.”

  • Since adoption could be difficult, be ready to encounter some resistance. Make sure users have easy access to CD tools that are relevant, familiar and easy to use.
  • To help with deployment, you could use a shared collaboration space, add-ons or third-party tools. People solve problems differently.
  • Embed usage analytics into your CD tools. You can use data tracking and metrics to measure how well the learning – and later the implementation – is going. During the webinar, Grantham cited PowerBI as an example of a way to represent your data visually. You can see macro trends about how the tools are being used and whether they are performing as planned.  
  • Zuefeldt reminded that implementing CD requires an investment of time – time that may have otherwise been billable. You need to make the commitment to that investment to make your company better in the long run. Compare the time input to the time savings. He said, “You build a tool one time, and it gets used many times afterward.”
Image: Council for a Strong America

Deploy a development process 

Developing and deploying a development process is an important aspect of implementation because of the impact it has on future CD tool development.

  • Create a space for team members to submit ideas and get continuous feedback from everyone about their likes and dislikes. Learn from the end users about how to improve solutions.
  • Use an Agile Development Process (ADP) for effective CD project management and application development. ADP is an iterative and cohesive method of driving the entire lifecycle of a project. The phases of ADP are: feasibility testing, prototyping, refining code and addressing bugs, educating and continuously improving. Zuefeldt stressed, “When you go live, what you do not want on day one is for your tool to be broken.”
  • Monitor the answers to these questions: How long is it taking to develop a tool? Are you getting ideas from the entire group of users? Is the beta testing group engaged, and do they know what they are testing for? Is the beta testing capturing bugs prior to a tool’s release?
  • Stay in touch with the ways your industry is evolving and learn from trends and developments.
  • Investigate what others are doing. You should not have to develop and create everything from scratch. Look at case studies in the industry to help guide your process.

When you implement CD, it’s not just about being an engineer or an architect, as Zuefeldt summarized: “It’s about being better at what you do.” Set a goal to continuously learn how to get better.


If you need a partner to help you investigate or implement computational design, contact Applied Software today. The experts of Applied Software will help you champion the solution that is right for your company.

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