Tag: engineering collaboration study

18 Dec 2020

6 Habits of Top Performing Collaborators—And What You Can Learn

Collaboration. Inter-departmental collaboration. Cross-functional collaboration. Dress it up however you like, we all know we need to do it. And we know it’s problematic and even detrimental to our business not to do it. Manufacturers’ top goal for product development success is engineering efficiency—and one of the keys to engineering efficiency turns out to be the one thing that’s really hard to quantify and measure. That’s right, successful collaboration.

An overwhelming 93% of companies report they need to improve collaboration with different groups.


Manufacturers face more roadblocks on the road to profit every day. Timelines get shorter, margins grow tighter, and products are more complex—which means more teams and systems have to be involved in design and production. No one works in a vacuum anymore: engineers report collaborating with an average of 21 people for “simple” products and 35 for more complex products.

Collaboration isn’t something manufacturers can avoid, either. In fact, the problem only gets worse if you ignore it. Across industries, poor collaboration is so common that engineers say they work with outdated data 28% of the time—that’s almost a day and a half per week wasted with bad information. In other words: poor collaboration is an enormous cost to business.

So how do we measure the impact of collaboration, or more specifically, the lack of it? Fortunately, Tech-Clarity found a way. Their recent report, “What’s the Cost of Poor Engineering Collaboration?” takes as its baseline the idea that products can’t be brought to market without collaboration, because it impacts every aspect of product development.

They surveyed 155 manufacturers doing business globally across a wide range of industries. Of that group, they identified as Top Performers the top 25% of companies that outperform their competitors in product development success metrics. By studying what the Top Performers do differently, Tech-Clarity identified six areas of opportunity for better collaboration that contribute to Top Performers’ success. That means six areas that you can focus on to help your bottom line.

Why Collaboration is Important

In Tech-Clarity’s survey, engineering efficiency ranked as the most important goal for design team success. To these manufacturers, increased efficiency means a faster time to market, a maximized window for new revenue opportunities, and more bandwidth to improve existing functionality.

When asked how they would achieve success, respondents’ top five answers all contribute to improving design efficiency:

  1. Finding design data more easily
  2. Improving collaboration
  3. More design reuse
  4. Better traceability across design
  5. More design work done in parallel

When they happen, the top three all mitigate the impact of poor collaboration on engineering. Unfortunately, they don’t happen enough.

Sixty percent of survey respondents say the impact of poor collaboration on engineering is more design rework, and 59% say it’s missed deadlines and longer design cycles. A whopping 53% of respondents say it’s designs that are wrong or contain errors. A survey of how engineers spend their time reveals that only about 50% of their days are spend doing design work. Collaboration accounts for 20% and design rework for another 20%.

Tech-Clarity argues that most of that rework time is due to poor collaboration, whether from designing with outdated information, from a lack of input by simulation experts or analysts, or even from a lack of input from customers. The opportunity for you and other manufacturers is the possibility of reclaiming that 20% of time spent on rework for value-added efforts, such as more design work, improvements, and innovations.

Clearly, the cost to engineering of failing to collaborate well is wasted or duplicated effort—and the opportunity cost is the lack of time for other improvements, which ultimately is a cost to the business.

Unsurprisingly, the Tech-Clarity survey found that poor collaboration has a significant negative impact on profitability. Impacts of poor collaboration on the business include delayed time to market (61%), higher development cost (60%), and higher product cost (56%). As abstract and hard-to-measure as collaboration is, it has to be addressed if a company hopes to be successful in today’s marketplace.

6 Areas of Opportunity

Tech-Clarity examined the practices of all survey respondents and focused on those that Top Performers rated as extremely or very effective by a significantly higher percentage than other companies did.

  1. Improve engineering efficiency by keeping data in sync across teams and implementing instantaneous file-sharing whenever possible.
    à 78% of respondents agree instantaneous file-sharing would help and save time
  2. Recognize collaboration requirements, whether that is groups who need to be collaborated with, such as manufacturing or customers, or that is processes that need better collaboration, such as market validation or release to manufacturing.
    à Top performers are 2.3 times more likely to share design details with internal, non-engineering staff
  3. Provide non-CAD users visibility to CAD, which provides benefits such as the ability to identify field failures/design flaws and access to more innovative ideas.
    à Top performers are 2.3 times more likely to share design details with internal, non-engineering staff
  4. Improve engineering-manufacturing collaboration to ensure smooth handoffs and help identify potential manufacturability issues early.
    à 93% of top performers give manufacturing visibility to design before release to manufacturing
  5. Connect engineers and simulation analysts throughout the design process to help identify potential issues earlier and avoid late-stage delays.
    à 73% of manufacturers say early analyst input into designs would help
  6. Support market validation with improved customer collaboration by soliciting customer feedback earlier in order to validate that products in development meet customer needs.
    à Top performers are 33% more likely to collaborate with customers

Those six habits of top manufacturing performers provide a guide for how you can start trying to improve collaboration in your own company in a targeted fashion. While products and processes get more complex and demand ever more collaboration, Tech-Clarity points out some good news: there are a wide variety of technologies, such as the cloud and innovation platforms, that can help you improve design collaboration across your organization—and help you break through the roadblocks keeping you from even greater success.

For more details on technology platforms that can help you meet your collaboration goals, contact Adaptive.

To download the Collaboration report, visit Tech-Clarity’s website.