Engineer or Process Admin?

Adam Keating

September 19, 2022


min read

This is not what you signed up for.

When you dreamed of becoming an engineer you probably imagined inventing new technology, building machines, and creating new solutions to solve the world’s problems. You probably didn’t imagine how many emails, issue spreadsheets, change orders, review meetings, and powerpoint decks would be involved along the way. 

Engineers become engineers to innovate, solve hard problems and create solutions that improve the world. 

Engineers do not become engineers to administrate spreadsheets and chase updates. 

We've spoken with thousands of engineers about what wastes their time during their design review process - The answers are often much the same and not surprising.

These engineers also noted that these same inefficiencies also contributed to lower quality products and less standardized, slower processes.

This isn’t just about a few frustrating meetings, or extra hours. The implications of this process are serious. 

Hardware engineers share a PDF, or a STEP file, or screenshots of a 3D model via email and ask for feedback. Reviewers download the files, open them up, and start describing feedback in text form, noting a part number, or design feature, and maybe annotating a screenshot in a powerpoint deck. The designer takes in this siloed feedback from all stakeholders, consolidates it in a spreadsheet or notebook, and starts determining resolutions. They might go back to the reviewer for clarification, discuss conflicting feedback, etc. Once they make the changes, they push the new file and start again. 

The average 250 person design and manufacturing organization completes 5 - 10 Weekly Reviews per project.  Based on industry standards, that’s 80,000 Annual Review Hours. That’s the equivalent of 38 Full Time Employees! These archaic methods of collaboration are holding back innovation and we can’t allow this to be the norm. Software engineers solved this problem twenty years ago. Most software development today is governed by an Agile methodology and supported by a foundational set of day-to-day collaboration, review and productivity tools. The ecosystem for add-ons, point solutions and integrations is also extremely prominent. 

Software engineers don’t spend their time organizing screenshots, and sending emails - they spend their time creating great software. 

Engineers are spending a quarter of their time sending emails, administering spreadsheets, seeking updates and completing work that should be automated. In 2019, OnShape surveyed 850 people in the hardware world with the several key insights:

  • 89% say they want or need the ability to monitor the product design team’s progress anytime without having meetings, sending emails or making phone calls.
  • 89% say they want earlier and better communications between the extended design team.
  • 86% say they need to reduce errors resulting from working on the wrong version of a design or receiving critical information too late.
  • 78% of the companies who ranked as “excellent” at innovation, used cloud-based tools.

While these results aren’t surprising, the question holds - why haven’t we fixed this? 

Engineers and their teams work with complex tools that take a lot of time/effort to set up and learn. These CAD/CAE/PLM tools are very powerful, but lack the foundation necessary to facilitate effective collaboration. As a result, the best attempts to date have been building a whole new CAD/PLM or adding functionality into an already complex tool. Neither have worked because they fail to strike the balance of collaboration-first architecture and practical solutions for busy teams who’ve already invested millions of dollars into their CAD/PLM.

A new approach is needed. What if you didn’t have to change your CAD/CAE/PLM tools and were able to work in a purpose-built collaboration hub daily that is deeply connected.

Let’s create a new standard for engineering collaboration to  remove these barriers to collaboration and learn to work together in real-time so we can focus on what brought us to engineering in the first place:  creating great technology.

August 27, 2020

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