How does your product development team worth together to design the world's most innovative products?
No doubt, your engineering team uses a number of tools to get the job done. There are various processes that people use to communicate design ideas and engineering changes. And, until recently, the majority of these tools and techniques have been disconnected, considered as single-user productivity solutions.
Let's explore some of the challenges that design teams are up against today and how modern cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms are helping organisations get more innovative products out the door, faster.
How to achieve a genuinely successful development process
The phrase "concurrent engineering" often rears its head in conversations around improving product development speed. To seek out the "Holy Grail" of product development, you don't have to be a genius to know that files and applications locked on a single person's computer are not ideal for accelerating the design process. However, storing CAD files first locally on your hard drive and then secondly on a server was the best option with the technology we had at the time.
When companies are in startup mode, they often don't bother with a formal data management strategy. It merely slips down the long list of priorities. Copies of files are stored in folders on an individual's computer, a file server, or a cloud-connected service that automatically copies files from the cloud to their hard drive. However, there is a breaking point when teams grow to a specific size or when they start to spread across multiple geographic locations. PDM and PLM systems, are designed to manage the rate of change and communicate what state those designs exist in. The systems make this happen by automatically copying files between servers and clients.
With so many copies flying back and forth, PDM and PLM prevent live collaboration and communication. A serial workflow requires one engineer to complete their work before a colleague can begin theirs.
This design approach, defined by a sequential, stage-based process, has, up until recently, been the only reality for product design teams. Only one person at a time has been able to work on a file. So, in quick succession, one person passes the task from themselves to another to complete their design tasks across many files. Inevitably, the longer a project takes, the more pricey it becomes. If a problem is found too late on, it's usually more costly to fix.
For decades, companies just accepted this as usual. Then the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model made an appearance. SaaS business platforms have led to significant changes in how people work with each other. For example, take the universal impact of Salesforce.com, Atlassian JIRA and Confluence, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs. Multiple people within an organisation can work on the same spreadsheet in the cloud using Google Sheets. Sales reps can share notes with the team in real-time. Students and teachers can work together on projects, even if they are working remotely. This kind of collaboration and a central source of truth is priceless.
What other business professionals have been taking for granted is finally possible for engineers, designers and manufacturers. A cloud-native product development platform called Onshape offers a team-based approach for the perfect concurrent design.
A parallel product development workflow also allows numerous engineers to work on the same projects at the same time - eliminating unnecessary waiting and delays.
The optimal concurrent design provides immediate benefits for reducing the cost of delays and the cost of change in design projects.