As businesses recognize the challenges of higher customer expectations and the need to become more agile, they are realizing they must change how they manage their data in the product development processes. 

Leading companies are becoming impatient with outdated file-based CAD and PDM software that hurts worker productivity and restricts their ability to scale and grow the business. As a result, many are seeking streamlined access to data and actionable business insights provided by cloud-native solutions like the Onshape product development platform. 

As the pace of business accelerates, timely access to data in the product development process has never been more important. From front-line engineers seeking the latest version of a design file to managers and executives requiring the right insight to optimize processes, data is emerging as the common denominator in achieving profitable growth. 

Unfortunately, too many firms are encumbered by outdated software: file-based CAD and PDM systems that silo data, prevent collaboration by workers, and effectively hide time-sensitive insights that leaders need to make good decisions about their business.

Access to Data and Productivity

The accepted truth in business is that innovation is a precursor to growth. 

An improved product design with better aesthetics and greater utility is often the best way for firms to win in the marketplace of ideas. As the engine of growth, the creators of new concepts – designers and engineers – must have access to the data they need to stay productive. 

Unfortunately, all too often, instead of working on essential design and engineering challenges, these users waste valuable time on the hunt for data. A recent survey, The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021, revealed that 80% of designers and engineers say they are unable to access or locate the data they need.

Graphic from The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021 Source: The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021

In addition to empowering current employees, a new way of accessing data is essential for firms seeking to scale with specialized or contact employees that may be located across the country or across the globe.  

Again, this is where file-based CAD, developed decades ago before the modern digital reality, is woefully inadequate. Designed as an “on-premise” solution requiring expensive dedicated workstations and servers, file-based CAD simply isn’t designed to provide the flexibility of sharing data between users across an office, never mind across the globe. 

When it comes to collaboration between workers, the stand-alone data approach of file-based CAD prevents teams from working efficiently together. 

In order to improve product designs efficiently, teams need the ability to communicate effectively. Without a built-in way to share design files, file-based CAD relegates users to ad-hoc workarounds such as email and even thumb drives. Rather than a fast, shared understanding, serial emails produce version control issues and misunderstandings. 

Unfortunately, add-on PDM software often purchased to address these challenges is no panacea. By imposing administrative check-in and check-out tasks on users, and lack of real-time access, PDM simply replaces one problem (version control) with another (blocked access and idle time). 

File-Based CAD Data Management Is Inefficient

Waiting next to a laptop File-based CAD lacks the flexibility and accessibility found in cloud-native software.

When it comes to taking a management perspective on optimizing cloud-native product development, good data is essential. With file-based CAD, the same lack of timely data that hurt worker productivity also keeps managers from accessing real-time data and insight they need to optimize operations and plot a path to growth.    

The simple fact is with file-based CAD, managers simply have no way of knowing at any given moment the status of their team’s projects. As a result, many managers must undertake absurd, but accepted, workarounds such as halting all work and asking engineers to check in their design files for review.  

These productivity-killing steps also only result in a single moment in time insight into a current status. The bottom line? The insight of management guru Edward Drucker has never been more true: “What cannot be measured, cannot be managed.”  

No Waiting With Cloud-Native Product Development

Fortunately, now cloud-native product development is offering teams a better way. The cloud-native Onshape product development platform, with integrated CAD and data management, was purpose-built to ensure data is available to users when needed. 

For front-line workers, the “single source of truth” enabled by Onshape, lets designers and engineers access design documents from anywhere, staying productive regardless of location. 

Companies can now hire the best talent regardless of location with the confidence that their team members will have unfettered access to the work they need. 

For individual team members, productivity is improved as multiple users can now access and collaborate on the same document at the same time. The cloud-native platform eliminates the workarounds of emails and the delays and productivity-killing hassles of file-based CAD.

For managers and executives, the cloud-native Onshape product development platform provides access to the data needed to improve productivity and achieve growth. With Onshape, managers now have access to real-time data that lets them understand project status and make more informed decisions. This access to the right data provides understanding and the ability to identify and overcome bottlenecks to accelerate growth. 

Learn More About CAD Data Management

The Engineering Leader’s Guide to Data Management eBook

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Leader's Guide to Data Management eBook

Learn how cloud-native design tools eliminate the bottlenecks of traditional PDM systems.