Does Your Product Development Team Have Trouble Accessing Your Design Data When You Need It?

The global pandemic created an immediate, and in some cases, lasting change for companies of all sizes. One of the most significant challenges for many firms was access to design data when entire teams were forced to shift to remote work away from their traditional offices. For many firms, this new demand came to spotlight the fact that their legacy, file-based CAD design software was really built around the assumption of in-office work with no flexibility for remote use.

For many designers and engineers thrust into this new paradigm of working from home, the change was disruptive. The lack of access to their office workstations meant delays as they sought workarounds to address their project deadlines and customer needs. In addition to the challenges of accessing design files, many were confronted with the absence of their in-office IT personnel whom they could call upon to troubleshoot problems in real-time.

In fact, horror stories have emerged of the workarounds required for some users to access their design data. These workarounds include engineers having to place their PC in their car and drive to the parking lot of their office in order to connect to the office server to access and download time-sensitive CAD files. After working on their files at home, these users then had to make a return trip to the office lot to upload and check-in their files in order to enable collaboration with colleagues.

Although some firms took the extra step to set up dedicated VPN connections for individual employees, this option is cumbersome and expensive. The bottom line? While file-based CAD was clearly an improvement over paper-and-pencil product design, it was fundamentally built for on-premise use. Product design software has simply not kept up with the reality of the collaborative way that designers and engineers work today and the advancements of an internet-connected world.

Looking to the future, companies are facing the reality that the increase in remote work is likely here to stay. Even when the pandemic abates and some office work resumes, many analysts are projecting that a complete return to full-time office work is unlikely. McKinsey and Company, in their recent “Future of Work” report, forecasts a hybrid home-office approach as the most likely scenario. These predictions correlate with actual worker preferences. A recent Fortune magazine survey found that only 9% of office workers who are still remote say they’d like to always work in the office in the future.

An additional 56% of those surveyed by Fortune prefer a hybrid model. Faced with a growing demand for remote productivity tools to support work from home, many product development leaders are recognizing that their file-based legacy CAD systems are undermining their future business goals.

Cloud-Based Data Management Delivers Anywhere, Anytime Access

To address the significant challenge of enabling anywhere, anytime remote access for employees and contractors, companies are seeking cloud-based platforms that deliver secure and reliable access to product designs and help teams stay productive.  Cloud-based solutions are already used in nearly every critical facet of business life today  – ranging from customer and sales CRM and project management to human resources software. The principal benefit is the simple intuitive access and availability of data, regardless of where users are located. 

For product development teams, cloud-based CAD and data management platforms provide unprecedented accessibility with a secure way for users to create, collaborate and share design documents from any web-enabled device. In addition, cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) design tools are especially well suited to boost cross-departmental collaboration when it is most critical – at the earliest stages of product development when it is possible to explore more alternative ideas. 

Designers and engineers want to stop wasting time hunting for the correct version of their design files and data. With cloud-native CAD and data management software, there is no more searching. The latest version of a design is always in the same secure workspace, which all members of the team (those with permissions) can instantly access.

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 “Data Management: How Engineering Leaders are Turning Data in Inshights eBook” and get a headstart on your company’s digital transformation!