The way you’re doing design reviews is holding you back

 Engineering teams are constantly expected to achieve more with the same resources while simultaneously being held back by traditional ways of working. 

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Every year, engineering teams are asked to do more with less, because customers demand products with more functionality, at a lower cost, with faster lead times. To keep up, companies need teams of specialized experts (inside the business and across the global supply chain) working closely together.

In the end, doing design reviews the way you’ve always done them contributes to:

Product launches get delayed

Projects go over budget

Quality mistakes make it in to production

The problem is the way engineering teams (like yours) work, together to evolve designs hasn’t changed in 10+ years

Your most important design decisions — the ones that make or break a product launch — are made everyday in design reviews.

Consider the last time you did a complex design review with multiple people. How did you prompt people to start generating useful feedback in the first place? Did you have a meeting? How many people were able to attend? How many actively participated?

Once you generated the feedback, how’d you keep track of it? How much useful input was ultimately lost in email chains, spreadsheets, and Powerpoint presentations? It’s hard to catch mistakes (and to capture opportunities), when useful input is constantly slipping through the cracks.

“The way we were doing our work is the same way that everyone else has traditionally been doing their work. Take screenshots [of a design], put that into a slide deck, and send that slide deck around for comments. It can be so hard to get the right screenshot that really gets the design intent across. So then you’re getting 10 people in a conference room for an hour. That's how we were doing things, but we knew there had to be a better way.”

– Kevin Walters, Senior Director of Hardware Engineering at Mainspring Energy

This is Design Review 1.0 – the status quo. And as expectations accelerate every year, top engineering teams are realizing that the status quo won’t cut it for much longer.

See CoLab in Action

Want to see how it works before getting in touch? Check out our library of interactive walkthroughs to see it for yourself first.

Introducing Design Review 2.0

At CoLab, we believe that design review effectiveness (quality + speed) is the #1 predictor of overall product development velocity. We want to help you run your best design reviews ever. Here’s what that looks like:

When you maximize active participation in reviews, you maximize useful feedback

Design review meetings should be your best opportunity to generate thoughtful feedback. Instead, they often become long, boring meetings where only a few people participate. It makes sense: only the person who is screen sharing CAD can really interrogate the model. They are doing a design review and everyone else is just watching one.

Using CoLab, everyone can interrogate the model on their own screen, while seeing other people’s feedback populate in real time. It’s engaging – dare we say fun? And it generates way more commentary and perspectives.

Thoroughly documenting feedback shouldn’t be a chore

Most teams document their design feedback in spreadsheets, emails, or offline in notebooks. Some teams even use free CAD viewers with markup features. Problem is – this approach turns documentation into an administrative task. The more thoroughly you document, the more work. It disincentivizes thorough documentation and leaves room for errors to slip through the cracks.

With CoLab, reviews and decision making get tracked automatically as you do the work. Engineers can do what they do best, and CoLab will support them with record-keeping in the background.

Engineering teams should have access to data to objectively improve the review process

Pinpointing bottlenecks in the review process (or understanding the real impact of continuous improvement) has always been a challenge. Why? Because engineering work takes place across multiple communication channels. It’s not auditable, and you can’t get data on what’s happening.

CoLab’s Insights feature gathers data about all of the human to human interactions that power your product decision making. That means you can objectively improve how your team evolves a design from concept to production validation.

But wait… isn’t my PLM supposed to do this?

Product lifecycle management (PLM) systems have become a critical source of truth for manufacturing companies. But PLM is built for managing product data. And decision making isn’t just about people engaging with data. It’s about people engaging with other people. 

A PLM system is a database, with a rigid architecture that’s optimized for data (and for human to data interaction). What engineers need now is a system that’s built for human to human interaction.

CoLab is a Design Engagement System. That means CoLab is built from the ground up to help people engage – not just with data, but with each other – to make great design decisions.

CoLab is a Design Engagement System. That means CoLab is built from the ground up to help people engage – not just with data, but with each other – to make great design decisions.

The best way to do more with less

In a world where expectations for quality, cost, and time to market increase every year, leadership teams have a choice:

You can work hard to make existing processes more efficient by optimizing how people work with data and PLM. Or you could focus on the bigger opportunity: modernizing how people work with each other so teams can be more effective.

The best engineering teams in the world won’t settle for 10% efficiency gains. By focusing on effectiveness, they’re unlocking a new working potential.

Read Case Studies

New Product Development

Ford Pro is partnering with customers on designs years sooner.

“We’re now starting to work with conversion partners through CoLab years before we’re ready to go into production, which historically is when they’d see that first bit of product.”

Simon Robinson
Chief Engineer, Ford Pro
Read story

Value Analysis

JCI doubled the number of actionable cost reduction ideas per VA/VE event, leading to 8 figures in savings

"With our normal in person events we’d find more than 100 opportunities for value-add on the models we’re reviewing. This year with our virtual events in CoLab, we’re averaging over 200."

Brian Stauffer
Global Product Design Manager, JCI
Read story

Product Redesigns

Mainspring Energy achieved a 50% cost reduction, while accelerating design cycles by 100% and releasing 300 drawings with zero changes

"Something that used to take a full year, we got it done in six months. And I personally have never overseen a cost reduction redesign of that scale — in terms of the number of parts and the amount of complexity — and been able to hit a 50% cost reduction on it.”

Kevin Walters
Senior Director of Hardware
Read story

Behind every feat of engineering are thousands of design decisions. What would your team build, if every decision was 2x faster and more thorough?


Deliver better products, faster.