The License Crisis -“A Plea to Autodesk”

There is no doubt that BIM has changed the way we get things done. As a middle-aged man (In third world country terms) I had the brief experience of hand drawn documentation. As students, we were thought to produce all our first- and second-year design concepts by hand, which resulted in some beautiful presentations but also in numerous sleepless nights. In my working career, we produced construction drawings for buildings, coordinated building services and modeled water pipelines with BOQ’s down to the washers on M16 bolts and with out the help of BIM, delivered on time and lost less sleep.

Now to other realities, you have a company of 2 to 15 employees, just enough work to make ends meet. If you’re lucky, you score the occasional tender which only pays after 5 years and you get over your Post Traumatic Tender Disorder, surviving another day in the turmoil that is the South African economy. It’s hard work, but you keep pushing because there are people depending on you, you have to pay salaries, rent, utilities and o yes… Software licenses… sometimes equating to a 13th cheque for some team members.

We were close to a recession in 2019 and with the “C” word currently happening as we speak, things are getting seriously tough. They say “Adapt or Die”, so why are you paying that annual Autodesk Suite subscription for a bunch of programs you never use, always releasing a “new” version every single year? When in reality, you only need 40% of Revit to allow you to produce all your work.

So here are some challenges/ hints/ ideas for Autodesk, the software user and developers out there:

Dear Autodesk,

Please could you rethink your subscription model? We don’t need a “new” version annually, we would be perfectly happy with a service pack update and you pay less development costs and we all win.

 You could “Rent a Revit”, charge us an hourly rate for using your software. I just want to point out that Netflix is destroying DSTV… Get with the program.

How about a more useful version of Revit, lets maybe call it Revit LT, with options to choose the add-ons we actually use and need and charge us accordingly. We don’t need the fat, we need lean, efficient programs.

Dear software user,

Use what you need, you don’t need the entire suite. The sales pitch sounds really good but irrespective of how good it sounds and how efficient it will make your company; your team only uses 40% of Revit. There is no doubt that the program is powerful and so is the Suite, but there’s a sour after taste when you realise the cost for REAL value.

Take this approach, download the trial, give it a test and then… use it or don’t… but only if it actually works for you and you will be using it constantly.

Dear independent software developers,

The world of freeware is growing enormously. There are companies who have a monopoly on our industry and this is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. A special shout out to Blender and its developers, it shows without a doubt that great things can be done on a large scale and we don’t have to continue feeding into the monopolies. It is completely free, powerful and I crush hard on it. There is an opportunity and I guarantee that the architecture and engineering practices will gladly pay subscription costs for a suitable, relevant, cost effective program.

There is a revolution stirring up in the industry, we really need to do something about this license crisis.

The Global Pandemic Disruption of Performance Agreements.

The time has come to show your worth as an employee. We often hear the quote “80% of success is showing up “- Woody Allen. Now that has and will drastically change. Employees cannot just “show up “make up their time and go home because many are at home.

I recently dealt with a matter where the employee has been making his required hours of work at home, however upon scrutinization, it appeared that for the hours he “worked” his productivity was unreasonably low.

Do you see where this is going?

Business sectors across had been forced into the “Work from home “social experiment due to COVID 19 and if it works there some great benefits.

Here is an inexhaustive list of benefits for businesses and employees:

Lower rental costs as less space for employees is required.

Reduce cost of having the employee at the premises (Coffee, electricity, water, etc)

Reduced travel costs for employees to the workplace. Fewer trips to the Office

Potential for improved Work-Life balance. (If you do not mess it up).

Once adaptation to working from home, there could be fewer as aspects of conflict that have a cost on time and in turn affects productivity.

In my efforts to keep this article short, I would agree that factors may be debatable as there is no “One size fits all ” measure to these. Introverts would probably love to be at home while the extroverts are currently experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


The main point is that employees are to be measured on their contribution to the business rather than their time being present physically or virtually. Attendance and especially half-day leave are rather subjective right now. The “Night owls and “Early Birds” can thrive no that the Industrial Mindset has been abolished.

The change is here, we should embrace it.

Sherwin Arjnan.