We all dread that messy email subject line: 


You already know the number of replies won’t bode well for your design team members, who are diligently trying to keep up with the latest updates. The cherry on top is the email file attachment with an ambiguous name, such as “CAD model_new_NEW_NEWER,” and wondering if it’s the latest in a string of emails. What if there’s a file named “newest”?

While email is an important tool to relay information, it is by no means the best tool to work collaboratively as a team on a single product. There are too many ways the correct file could get lost, just adding wasted time spent on non-design issues. 

Sharing information can be a struggle without email, too. 

Teams at Premier Custom-Built, a luxury cabinet and millwork design firm, sometimes use a three-ring binder filled with sheets of paper with technical information, Software Engineer Chad Stoltzfus said.

“There will be days where you're sitting at your desk and you hear someone make a call over the PA system and say, ‘Hey, we found your paperwork,’” he said, highlighting how easy it is to misplace important information.

Having worked through many of these hiccups caused by email and physical paperwork, Stoltzfus asked his team, “Why are we spending time trying to find paperwork? Why are we spending time sending our engineers out to someone's bench to further explain a specification? Why are we sending these email chains where it's very easy for information to get lost?”

Premier Custom-Built is transitioning to Onshape, the all-in-one product development platform, to overcome these obstacles.

In the webinar, “Prioritizing Agility: The New Imperative in Product Design,” Stoltzfus explains the benefits that have come from the transition to Onshape. He joins Dave Corcoran, SVP and Head of Products at Onshape, and Chad Jackson, Chief Analyst and CEO at Lifecycle Insights, in a discussion about moving away from clunky tools and finding solutions to promote business agility, resiliency and productivity.

The webinar is also free and available to watch on our website:

Cloud-Native CAD Frees Up Time in the Product Design Process

Producing luxury, custom-built cabinetry for kitchens, storage rooms, outdoor patios, yachts and airplanes for customers all over the globe requires a process that can be tweaked and improved upon.

With the adoption of Onshape, Premier Custom-Built aims to “transform an industry that's traditional, be the leading edge in product design, in the design process” and create a more agile business, Stoltzfus said.

To achieve this, Stolfzfus has been implementing Onshape throughout the product development process to relieve bottlenecks or delays due to communication issues.  

“I think when we talk about having a single source of truth, that's one of the big benefits of it is that you have one place where you enter information,” he said. “We have seen our rework go down significantly as we shift over to a paradigm of information in a single place.”

Embracing cloud-native CAD also meets the demand from engineers and designers themselves who need the correct tools to do the work.

“Expectations for what counts as functional software is starting to change. And I think that's something that we found Onshape does a great job of tackling,” Stolfzfus said. “We're essentially merging a lot of the non-design-related activities with a part of the design process.”

Premier Custom-Built gains an advantage by freeing up the time a team uses to find the correct, up-to-date data and gives the team tools to work together with ease, Stolfzfus said.

“A large part of business agility has to do with accessing information and communication,” he said. “And we believe that Onshape will continue to provide us the ability to communicate with both our customers and also our manufacturing floor.”

Examples of work done by Premier Custom-Built.

Fixing Communication Holdups for Product Designers

Chad Jackson, Chief Analyst and CEO at Lifecycle Insights, shared some points from the research firm’s Engineering Executive’s Strategic Agenda Study.

Today there is a greater need to meet industry requirements on deadlines that are getting shorter and more compressed, Jackson noted. So the normal way of doing things won’t keep up with the demand. 

“You send people a file, right? Well, there are some fundamental problems with that approach,” Jackson said. “The email can be lost, can be deleted, can be buried in an inbox.”

Onshape’s ability to place important information along with design data gives teams the ability to stay up-to-date. 

“This approach directly addresses a lot of the shortcomings with emails and file attachments,” he said. “What we've seen in our research is there is a ton of scrap and rework, a ton of change orders, a lot of churn, a lot of disruption in the development process — not because you're making difficult design decisions ... but because of this non-value-added challenge or obstacle.” 

By opening up the flow of information, team members can simply access an Onshape Document with a link and see the most recent design changes. They also don’t have to install anything, saving time.

“A cloud-based, SaaS-based solution is really powerful,” Jackson said. “You have a browser, and you open up the link, and it takes you to a model, and you can spin, pan, zoom. You can interrogate it independently, and you can use a subset of the features, the capabilities and not be bombarded with all this functionality.”

Working with more people, outside suppliers or different teams, makes it more important to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“You need some way to ground all those people in a definition that is unambiguous, that is clear, and then everybody can kind of make their decisions,” Jackson said. “So you're making more informed decisions in the right context.”

Simple Desires that Lead to Better, More Efficient Processes 

Easy access to the latest data on a project. Streamlined communication with your team. Optimized processes. 

“They're pretty simple desires. They're hard to fix,” said Dave Corcoran, Onshape Senior Vice President and Head of Products.

Many of these desires can be met with the right tools, like Onshape.

“Being able to discover new information on your own, that's one of the really important differences of an agile organization is instead of having to call meetings and send files and have this formal approach to finding out things,” he said. Onshape helps democratize the information needed to get products to the market.

According to “The State of Product Development and Design 2021” report, teams are looking for ways to increase communication and decrease the time spent on non-design related activities (like searching for the right files). 

“If you're a more efficient organization, you're going to have a competitive advantage,” Corcoran said. “You're going to serve your customers better. It's about transforming the product development process.”

Dive deeper into this discussion by watching “Prioritizing Agility: The New Imperative in Product Design” today.