How does your product development team work together to design the world’s next greatest product? No doubt, your engineering team uses a variety of tools to get the job done. There are also various processes that people use to communicate design ideas and engineering changes. Until very recently, most of these tools and processes have been disconnected, single-user productivity solutions.

Let’s explore together what design teams are up against today and how modern cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms are helping organizations get more innovative products out the door faster. Our exploration will consist of a series of webinars that demonstrate how companies can better iterate on their designs in less time for less cost. We will use Onshape’s database-driven SaaS platform as the backbone of this series. The first webinar topic will focus on how teams can speed up the product development process by deploying parallel resources on a project.

How to achieve a truly concurrent development process

The phrase “concurrent engineering” often comes up in conversations related to improving product development speed. To seek out this "Holy Grail” of product development, you don’t have to be an archeologist wearing a sable fedora hat with a whip by your side to figure out that files and applications locked on a single person’s computer are not optimal for accelerating the design process. However, storing CAD files first locally on one’s hard drive and then on a server was the best we could do with the technology we had at the time.

When they are smaller or in startup mode, some companies don’t bother with a formal data management strategy. Copies of files are stored on folders on an individual’s computer, a file server, or a cloud-connected service that automatically copies files from the cloud to their hard drive. But there is a tipping point – when teams grow to a certain size or when they start to spread across multiple geographic locations – when additional infrastructure is required. PDM and PLM systems, a necessary evil, are designed to manage the rate of change and communicate what state those designs are in. The systems do this by automatically copying files between the servers and the clients.

Because there are so many copies flying back and forth, PDM and PLM prevent live collaboration and communication.


A serial workflow requires one engineer to finish his or her work before a colleague can begin theirs.

This design approach, defined by a sequential, stage-based process, has (up until recently) been the only reality for product design teams. Only one person at a time has been able to work on a file. So, like a relay race, one person passes the baton from one to another to complete their design tasks across many files. And of course, the longer a project takes, the costlier it is. Needless to say, if a problem is found later rather than earlier, it usually is a much more expensive problem to fix.

For decades, companies just accepted this as the only option. Then the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model came along.

SaaS business platforms have led to major changes in how people work with each other. Just consider the universal impact of, Atlassian JIRA and Confluence, and especially Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs. Multiple people can edit the same spreadsheet in the cloud in a Google Sheet. Sales reps can share notes on a prospect with the team in real time. Students and teachers can revise a project together even if they are working remotely.

What other business professionals have long been taking for granted is finally now possible for engineers, designers and manufacturers. A cloud-native product development platform like Onshape offers a team-based approach for true concurrent design.

A parallel product development workflow allows multiple engineers to work on the same project at the same time, eliminating needless waiting and delays.

True concurrent design provides immediate benefits for reducing the cost of delays and the cost of change in design projects. The first webinar in this “Cloud-Based Design For Your Business” series examines how to organize your design department to take advantage of these new design workflows.

Join me at 11am (EST) on Thursday, January 16, for the live webinar, “How to Achieve a Truly Concurrent Development Process.” We’ll explore how Onshape’s cloud-native product development platform will help your company take advantage of parallel design workflows to boost innovation and speed up your time-to-market.

Looking forward to seeing you there!