“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  These words spoken by President Franklin Roosevelt in his 1933 inaugural address are still widely quoted today.  The reason these words still resonate so many years later might be found in the core truth they convey - that the human emotion of “fear” can be a steep barrier to almost any endeavor. 

Today, leading product development professionals are coming to recognize the significant impact that fear of data loss is having on their design teams. Specifically, these leaders are looking at the negative impact on productivity and creativity that file-based CAD and PLM systems have on their users. These teams are working daily with the fear of losing data due to system crashes – and must needlessly waste time every hour manually saving files. Seeking to remove obstacles to productivity and creativity, these leaders are transforming their organizations with cloud-native CAD.

Many design teams today are laboring under a “Sword of Damocles” – the fear of catastrophic data loss due to sudden, unexpected crashes.  Constantly afraid of losing data, these users must keep interrupting their progress on a design to type “Control+ S” on their keyboard to save their work. For anyone who has ever lost their work, this need to click “Save” becomes an always-on script running in the back of their mind.  

The impact on productivity is significant. Every time a project is saved, more precious design time is wasted as users wait for their file to be backed up to a server. Depending upon the number of components and parts involved, each interruption could be five minutes or longer. Also, every time a user saves their work they are saving the new version and erasing their prior file. With file-based CAD systems, they have no way to “undo” their changes and, as a result, are always at risk of making a mistake and accidentally saving over their best work. 

 File-Based CAD Wastes Time and Inhibits Creativity

In addition to the time directly wasted by these CAD systems, there is another more insidious impact on innovation. These legacy CAD systems are constraining the creativity of their teams. 

 Don’t believe it?  Ask any designer or engineer about the last time they lost all their work due to a sudden system crash. Unexpected CAD crashes rob a user of hours of work – all their efforts made since their last “Control + Save” are wiped out.  Recovering from such a crash usually requires hours trying to systematically recreate what they had already done. Inevitably, many details are lost. Users of on-premise installed CAD systems consequently realize their work can be lost any time. So hitting “Ctrl+S” with Pavlovian regularity becomes part of their muscle memory.  The longer term impact is the demoralization that comes from putting in best efforts, and having that work instantly and arbitrarily taken away by an entirely unpredictable system crash.  The net impact is a mindset that is governed by safety - focused on protecting what has been done through the rote, repetitive, saving process.  What is sacrificed is the ability to be looking forward, imagining, designing and creating for ‘what’s next’ in the design process. 

In terms of the net-business impact, reduced creativity may be difficult to quantify in terms of minutes or hours, but wasted time is not. And the data indicates that designers and engineers are increasingly concerned about the time they are wasting due to data loss. 

In The State of Hardware Development and Product Design 2020, an industry survey of nearly 1,000 manufacturing executives, project managers and engineers around the world,  70% of respondents were seeking to reduce time wasted due to data loss.  

As the chart below illustrates, time wasted due to crashes and data loss proved virtually as much of a concern for respondents as the more widely lamented, historical time waster:  unproductive meetings.

In addition to the challenge of data loss from system crashes, users of on-premise legacy CAD systems face the additional problem of data loss due to design files accidentally being overwritten by well-intended colleagues. Throughout the copying and “checking-in” and “checking out” process that is a constant reality of file-based CAD and PLM systems, users face the ever-present risk of inadvertent changes and version control errors. As a result, users of these legacy systems are spending valuable time on administrative functions instead of focusing on improved design.

 Fearlessly Innovate with Cloud-based CAD 

As the only cloud-based product development platform on the market, Onshape integrates CAD and data management capabilities into a single, robust platform that empowers designers and engineers, and eliminates data loss due to system crashes. 

Delivered as an on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, Onshape is available on any device and automatically saves user data in real time.  Designers and engineers never have to hit “Control +S” again, and never have to worry about a system crash and the pain of unexpected data loss.  Instead, users have the freedom to look forward and focus on the best possible design solution.

How has Onshape made system crashes a worry of the past? Behind the scenes, and totally invisible to the user, the platform takes advantage of the architecture and scalability of the cloud with large banks of servers queued and ready to go if a problem should occur. If a server component fails for whatever reason, another takes over in milliseconds. The result is seamless and continuous operation for the end user and the experience of an application that never crashes. 

In addition to preventing data loss, the cloud-based capabilities of Onshape enable teams to more easily explore alternative design ideas and take more creative risks. With limitless “undo and redo” capabilities, users can explore ideas with confidence. In addition, Onshape provides an intuitive version tree “timeline” that provides a comprehensive history of each design.  The version tree functionality enables users to quickly and easily return to an earlier version of their design if they suddenly reach a design “dead end.”  As a result, users can work with unparalleled freedom - there is no penalty for trying something new. 

The Product Innovation Imperative

At a time of unprecedented change, today’s product development leaders are re-examining their legacy file-based CAD systems and seeking new solutions. Increasingly, these leaders are turning to the cloud-based Onshape platform to free their teams from the wasted time and the ever-present fear of data loss.  Onshape is enabling users to once again focus on their true mission:  product innovation.

Learn more about product innovation with our new Onshape ebook:  The Product Innovation Imperative