What immediately comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “paving over the cowpath”?

The colorful expression has its origins in what some call a historical fact, while others consider it an urban myth – that the confusing, serpentine streets in older U.S. cities like Boston are the result of city governments deciding to literally “pave over” the dirt paths that cows had used to return home from the pasture. (Contrast these windy streets with the meticulously planned geometric grids of Manhattan).

Whether this story is true or is just an entertaining tale passed down through the generations, the expression does have strong relevance in the business world. “Don’t pave over the cowpath” serves as a cautionary warning for software developers (and virtually every other profession) today. The lesson? Don’t accept the status quo of the way things have always been done, and certainly don’t lock in existing practices, without first exploring if there are better alternatives. 

When it comes to today’s challenges of developing innovative products, leading companies now realize that how they manage their design data is critical for improving product features, innovating new products, delighting their customers and winning market share. Companies are now recognizing that they must reassess legacy product development technology that severely limits their teams’ ability to effectively collaborate and work remotely.  

Using file-based CAD for product design is a prime example of “repaving the cowpath.”  Developed decades ago, before the widespread adoption of the internet, on-premise legacy CAD actually just digitized the exact methods and practices of old-school paper-and-pen design. 

As with paper drawings, file-based CAD was never architected with data-sharing or collaboration in mind.  A critical shortcoming of file-based CAD is its inability to share critical product design data with others. In contrast to the modern approach of agile product development, and ignoring the requirements of remote work, file-based CAD prevents the effective sharing of data.

The expensive, stand-alone workstations required to use installed legacy CAD systems limit the ability to share designs with team members, colleagues or external partners. Instead, users must resort to time-consuming and insecure workarounds like sending design files by email. The result is version control issues, increased opportunities for human error, misunderstandings and delays in getting products to market.

Cloud-based product development platforms that enable core design teams to efficiently and securely share the latest CAD models with both internal stakeholders and external partners are one way to avoid “repaving the cowpath.”

Get Your Copy of the “Beyond Data Management” eBook

Interested in learning more about how forward-thinking companies have benefited from switching to a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CAD platform? 

In Onshape’s eBook, “Beyond Data Management, How Engineering Leaders are Turning Data into Insights,” we explore how leading firms are rethinking data management in order to empower employees, streamline processes and ensure accelerated time to market.  

In this eBook, you’ll learn how on-premise CAD systems are slowing product development down – and how switching to a cloud-based platform can eliminate these time-killers. You will explore the following critical issues:

  • Access to Design Data – File-based CAD users are locked to individual computers and licenses. Cloud-native CAD enables access on any computer, tablet or phone. 

  • Version Control Errors – Multiple design file copies often lead to engineers accidentally working on the wrong version, which can result in costly manufacturing mistakes. Cloud-native CAD relies on one master 3D model as the single source of truth. 

  • PDM/PLM Administrative Headaches – The check-in and check-out process of file-based Product Data Management systems creates slow serial workflows. Cloud-native data management enables simultaneous collaboration.

  • Lack of Analytics/Visibility – Because file-based CAD users store their work on individual hardware, managers have no visibility into a project until formal design reviews. Cloud-native CAD enables 24/7 access to designs by critical stakeholders.

With the increasing need for remote collaboration tools for distributed teams, cloud-based CAD and data management are no longer a nice-to-have technology, but a business necessity.

Download your copy of “Beyond Data Management: How Engineering Leaders are Turning Data into Insights” today and get a headstart on your company’s digital transformation!