In our personal lives, sticking to New Year’s resolutions is a tricky endeavor. Most gyms tend to get unbearably crowded in early January and then thin out significantly as February approaches. 

But what about our professional lives? Are your design and manufacturing teams always on the same page? Do you sometimes face CAD software incompatibility issues with vendors and partners? Do you feel that CAD crashes and occasional miscommunication sometimes set you back a few steps? 

Please take a moment to reflect on how your company performed in 2023. What did your team do best? What areas do you think could use some improvement?

If you believe your product development efforts were slowed down by unnecessary time waste last year, you’re in good company. According to The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2023-2024, an independent industry survey taking the pulse of 1,400+ design and manufacturing professionals, up to 36 hours a month is lost to bottlenecks inherent to file-based CAD and PDM software.


In 2024, you shouldn’t have to suffer with outdated CAD tools that make your job harder than it already is. Nor should you have to shortchange your career by leaving little time to experiment with new design ideas. 

Here are a few suggestions for how to help make this year your most productive, efficient, and innovative yet. The beauty of the eight career-changing recommendations below is that they can all be achieved in one easy step. 

Resolutions for Product Developers in 2024

1. Say Goodbye to CAD Crashes Forever

One engineer we know put up with 19 system crashes in a week, while others considered themselves lucky to encounter only a few weekly disasters. Nobody can say for sure why file-based CAD software crashes come at the worst possible time, but they do. Nothing is worse than taking two steps backward and being forced to recreate work lost in a CAD crash. By switching to cloud-native, browser-based CAD, 2024 can be the year you’ll start crushing deadlines thanks to its increased stability and the resulting efficiency. 

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2. Banish Version Control Mistakes From Your Design Process

Nobody wants to spend their most productive work hours trying to determine which copy of the data is the latest version. And no one wants to send email messages to manufacturing partners beginning with “I hope you haven’t started to cut steel.” When everyone can find and access the most up-to-date data at the moment they need it, that puts them in a much better position to innovate. Use browser-based CAD tools to put your digital house in order.


3. Improve Your Design Team’s Communication

Think of the volume of emails, Slacks, texts, PDFs, screenshots, calls, and meetings your team has to manage. Talk about drudgery! A product design platform should make simultaneous collaboration and in-product communication a natural part of the workflow among highly skilled professionals. And your product design tools should enable a multi-user experience. The serial, one-engineer-at-a-time workflows common in file-based CAD are productivity killers.


4. Demand Hassle-Free Software Upgrades 

Some teams have to take entire days off while the IT professionals install file-based CAD and PDM upgrades. The latest upgraded software may not be compatible with the versions colleagues, suppliers, and partners are using, creating the need for extra workarounds. Now, instead of using their upgraded software, design teams find themselves upending their own schedules as they try to collaborate with others. Efficiency just took a nose dive across your organization. Most widely used office productivity tools (Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, etc.) upgrade in the cloud without causing chaos. CAD tools should as well. This year, banish downtime caused by IT upgrades. 


5. Share Your Intellectual Property (IP) in the Most Secure Way

Sharing your intellectual property with partners, vendors, and suppliers can be a risky endeavor. Once you email a CAD file or share a Dropbox link, a copy of your IP now lives on your recipient’s hard drive. You have no way of retrieving it back. Even if your partner has no nefarious intentions, you do not know how vulnerable their company’s cybersecurity is. With a cloud-native CAD platform, there are no files or uncontrolled file copies. Your data lives in one secure location in the cloud. You can securely share your designs and later revoke access permissions once the project is over.


6. Insist on Built-In Product Data Management (PDM)

Traditional PDM systems add more complexity to the design process. Highly skilled engineers find themselves involuntarily becoming administrators as they check CAD files in, check them out, or wait for needed files to become available. Ideally, product data management should be almost invisible because it’s such a natural part of your workflow. With cloud-native PDM, it is. Cloud-native PDM stores data in secure cloud databases where the data is always accessible, up-to-date, and a source of efficiency instead of angst. 


7. Give Your Team the Gift of Flexibility

The growing demand for work-life balance, travel, and the shifting schedules of distributed teams make it vitally important to be able to work wherever and whenever necessary on any device. Yet designers still can find themselves tethered to hardware because the machine has a needed piece of installed software, the necessary specs and compute power, or both. Vow that this will be the year your design software supports you to work on any web-enabled device. 


8. Explore and Test New Design Ideas More Quickly

Any designer would be reluctant to experiment if it meant the team’s original work might be compromised. Going off to refine ideas solo doesn’t help much either because the results can be difficult to integrate. Cloud-native CAD and PDM allow engineers to salvage previously wasted time and reallocate it to exploring more design iterations. With Git-like branching and merging, engineers can freely explore a different path without disturbing the original design. Promise yourself that more rapid problem-solving, adaptation, and experimentation will be part of your design process going forward. 


Where Do You Want to Be at the End of 2024? 

When you reflect on your best products, you know they deliver value to customers in innovative ways. Your product design platform and your tools should do the same for you. Switching to cloud-native CAD instantly eliminates many of the product development bottlenecks inherent to working with file-based platforms. No software tool can guarantee innovation or a promotion, but choosing the right one can help create a design environment that releases you from hassle and inefficiencies.

Consider committing to the resolutions above. Your best work is waiting for you!

The Dead Weight of File-Based CAD and PDM [INFOGRAPHIC]

The six ways you're wasting time.