How Can Engineering Teams Improve Collaboration?

Has there ever been a word more widely used, and so often misunderstood as “Collaboration?” All too frequently the refrain of “improved collaboration” echoes from the executive suite as an aspirational goal, stated with intensity, but without the tools to achieve it. And absent the right technology to support it, “collaboration” can come across to employees as little more than a cliché  – another square on a corporate “Buzzword Bingo” card.

However, this perception is now changing. Due to the rapid adoption of remote work in the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, firms are now understanding the critical importance of enabling improved employee collaboration.  A recent global survey of employees and executives by the software firm ServiceNow bears this out.

The survey across an array of industries found that 94% of employees reported benefits from remote work. However, the #1 concern of these employees was ensuring effective collaboration with colleagues. Executives also see collaboration as a top concern, prioritizing it just behind the business-critical goal of minimizing delays in product or service delivery.

For engineering teams, “collaboration” is too important to be dismissed as a corporate buzzword.

For firms that design and manufacture products, the challenges of remote work are particularly acute. These firms are discovering that their legacy file-based CAD solutions, designed in the pre-internet era for on-premise work, are simply not up to the challenge of remote collaboration. These firms are increasingly seeking new digital and cloud-based solutions.

A survey conducted by a leading CAD industry analyst firm, Tech-Clarity, found that 65% of companies surveyed viewed digital transformation as a “critical” or “important”” priority.

Source: Tech Clarity

This finding was also echoed in the Onshape-commissioned survey of global product teams, “The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2020,” which found that 8 out of 10 firms using cloud-based technology reported improved productivity.

  • Core Design Team – The individual designers and engineers working on designs day-in and day-out.

  • Extended Internal Team – The array of company stakeholders who provide critical input and approvals; and

  • External Partners – The vendors and partners supplying raw materials or who are manufacturing a product.

Collaborating With the Core Product Design Team

For the designers and engineers responsible for developing innovative product solutions, seamless access to their CAD designs, and the ability to share and collaborate with teammates is critical. However, traditional file-based CAD simply wasn’t designed for remote work. Users often struggle with basic issues including version control of design files, and the inability to share designs with users who don’t have an expensive CAD workstation.

In contrast, cloud-based CAD delivers “anywhere, anytime” access with a web-based link. Users can now not only share but also simultaneously collaborate on a product design with other users in real time. Cloud-based CAD is transforming how engineers collaborate with their core team and design innovative solutions.

Collaborating With the Extended Internal Team

Even when multiple designers are involved in creating a great product, there are always extended stakeholders within an organization who need to review and approve designs before they are released to production. With traditional file-based CAD solutions, collaboration with these extended teammates in supply, manufacturing and operations has never been smooth.  Because these departments often don’t have expensive dedicated CAD workstations, sharing has been ad-hoc – with the sharing of 2D designs in person or by email, and often susceptible to miscommunication and worse.

Today, cloud-based CAD enables fast, efficient sharing of exact 3D designs – all sent with a simple web link and no dedicated workstation required. The result? Faster, and less frustrating reviews and approvals.

Collaborating With External Partners and Vendors

In an era of limited global mobility due to travel restrictions and even quarantines in some parts of the world, companies realize they need a better way to collaborate with vendors and manufacturing partners. With traditional file-based CAD, engineers or product managers might have to travel halfway around the globe to ensure alignment and that the latest design was being shared before production began.

In contrast, users of cloud-based CAD can instead avoid travel by simply sending a secure, permission-based web link. This single-source-of-truth enabled by the cloud ensures that all parties are working on the same design, and there is no confusion over the right version of what is to be produced. In addition to improving operational efficiency, the cloud lets product managers sleep a little easier at night.

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 this eBook, you’ll be introduced to a brand new class of real-time CAD collaboration and sharing tools, engineering productivity features made possible only by a cloud database architecture. Cloud-based CAD and data management are no longer a nice-to-have technology, but a must-have technology.


Download your free copy now of The New Collaboration: A Guide to Transforming your collaborative product design: