3 Trends Decimating Engineering Productivity -- And How PDM Can Overcome Them

Written By: Katie Scherbel
  • 2/5/2018

As products and the product development process grow more complex, engineers find themselves pulled in many directions. Simply put, engineers are less productive these days – and mind you, it’s at no fault of their own. Here are the main three reasons why this is happening – and why the right-sized product data management (PDM) system is the best solution to these challenges. 

Trend #1: Dealing with Design Fragmentation 

While individual engineers were once responsible for an entire product design, that’s no longer the case. According to Lifecycle Insights’ ebook, “Recovering from the Trends Eroding Engineering Productivity”, there are now designers assigned to various aspects of product development (mechanical or electrical), software development, systems engineering, manufacturing engineering and many other specialized practices. This cross-discipline design is also often dispersed across many geographical locations, many of which are using disparate processes, systems and tools to manage their product data.

Trend #2: The Influence of Broader Considerations

Making things even more complicated is that the product development process now requires collaboration and decisions from stakeholders outside of engineering to ensure product viability. Considerations from teams such as manufacturing, service, suppliers, and even customers might include: 

  • Supplier sources around the world
  • Variations in manufacturing methods by geography
  • Cost of goods
  • Service feasibility and requirements
  • Data security and privacy

The trouble is, non-engineering stakeholders involved in the design process can’t fully participate in the product development decisions until they fully understand a product design. Therefore, engineers spend a great deal of time communicating their design, gathering and consolidating feedback and updating changes across multiple systems of record. 


Trend #3: Satisfying Compliance Burdens

Regulations and standards vary but few products today escape the need to comply with one or more of these. To satisfy these requirements, some companies put in place new engineering processes and procedures. Engineers must be familiar with and follow these processes without exception, and produce documents for proof of due diligence. 

Email and Shared Drives Fall Short

Each of these trends can be a significant time sink to any engineer. Some organizations attempt to address today’s engineering complexities with email or shared drives– but neither is a good enough solution. Shared drives weren’t built to support the types of technical data at the heart of product design. That means anyone without the right software – i.e., non-engineering participants lacking CAD – can’t open these files. Plus, trying to keep track of extensive data and numerous tasks via email is a losing proposition. At the end of the day, relying on these methods makes it increasingly difficult for engineers to focus on the task at hand. 

The Right PDM System Solves These Challenges

The good news is – there’s an answer to these challenges. Unlike shared drives or email, right-sized PDM systems understand a products’ data, structures, and information, therefore addressing the core needs of the engineering organization. The result? Designers can focus significantly less time on data administration and more time on what they do best - design. Right-sized PDM systems should:

  • Deliver a single integrated view of all product information and data 
  • Provide more consumable product data to non-engineering teams 
  • Enable organizations to automate, track, and manage their product-development-related processes company-wide

For more on the ramifications of these trends and the key capabilities needed to overcome them, download the Lifecycle Insights ebook.

  • Windchill
  • Digital Transformation
  • Electronics and High-Tech
  • PLM

About the Author

Katie Scherbel

Katie Scherbel is the Director of Product Marketing for PTC’s PLM division. She is a content crafter by trade with over 10 years of experience in the tech industry, specializing in PLM, digital transformation, big data, cloud, storage and converged architectures. Before joining PTC, Katie was the Alliances Marketing Manager at SimpliVity Corporation and worked in partner and solutions marketing at EMC.