Collaborating Remotely Using SOLIDWORKS: How to Do It Like the Pros

When you think of the phrase “collaborating with your coworkers,” what do you picture? I’ll tell you what I picture.

  •         Standing over someone’s desk discussing a problem or decision to be made
  •         Attending scrum-style update meetings in the conference room to catch up on different areas related to a project
  •         White-boarding concepts – sometimes in impromptu fashion – to convey them real-time and in-person to my colleagues

All of a sudden, what’s listed above encompass three examples of things we cannot do. And now, many of us are doing our best to replace these peer-to-peer collaboration conventions with an endless onslaught of emails, conference calls, text messages, and other forms of communication that can best be described as: Disjointed. Disparate. And, inevitably, pretty demoralizing!

All of this, while, thankfully, we get to retain so much of what we (or, at least, “I”) often take for granted. For instance: that we get to retain information like ‘who’s the go-to’ for ID-style work in our groups. That we have some familiarity with how project leads like to work in our companies.

These basic ‘knowns’ can go a long way in easing these sudden transitions away from our physical workplaces. Now, imagine you had none of this. You not only had a painful lack of tools to help you collaborate remotely, but you’d also lost all organizational knowledge and had to start from scratch to figure out who the relevant stakeholders are, and ‘who’s good at what’s’ all over again.

Sounds dreadful, right? But if there were ever a use case to learn from, in teaching ourselves how we can use current-day tools to collaborate better with our own teams during these challenging times, it’d be one like that. And, thankfully, such a use case exists.

In the video above, you’ll get to follow me learning from SOLIDWORKS users just like you. Well, except for the fact that they, in just 30 days or so, went from not knowing each other at all to successfully using SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in ways that allowed them to make a fully functioning prosthetic prototype design. All of this, as part of the first-ever 3DEXPERIENCE For Good Hackathon.

And yes, to be clear: Jade (UK), Aidan (Canada), and Rob (US) had never met in person before.

So, how did they do it? Well, as you’ll see in this video, they used some tools that were not only easy to use, but required very little implementation time to get started. In order to sprint as quickly as they did, they had to overcome certain obstacles.

Being located across three different countries and different time zones was rough. Not to mention, they also had a team member in Italy, bringing the grand tally on their small team of 5 people to 4 countries overall!

What provided to be key, outside of the short implementation time, was ubiquitous, seamless access to communications, ideas, and data. This is something they were able to get in the following ways that might help you today.

Cloud-Based Data Management (from within SOLIDWORKS)

When I called Jade, we talked about how crucial it was for them to be able to centrally store and access documents and projects from SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Using an add-in directly inside of SOLIDWORKS, the team was able to track and change the status of projects, revision projects, and more – without ever needing to leave the SOLIDWORKS interface.

Designs and other important documents could then be accessed from within their local interfaces or from any browser (using any web-enabled device), logged into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. All of this was able to be done extremely quickly, with very little implementation time!

Manage and Participate in Projects from Anywhere

During my conversation with Aidan, who’s currently a student in university, he talked about how useful the project planning tools on the platform were for their team – and how useful they can be now, to help with assignment tracking.

Using the project planning tools available on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, you can assign tasks to different team members, stay updated on their progress, and get a full scope of what’s been done – and what remains to be completed.

You can do this in several ways. Among them: via full project timeline layouts and auto-updating status dashboards.

This really cuts down on the need for status check-in emails, 1-hour meetings that really don’t need to happen, and more – all of which ultimately return time back to you and your team for the things that truly need to be done.

Share Ideas and Communicate in a Connected Manner

Rob and I could’ve sat on this video chat call, lamenting the nature of text messaging and email for hours. Thankfully, we didn’t do that, but we did talk about it a fair amount when discussing the benefits of communities on the platform.

With platform communities, your team can have private spaces to simply discuss ideas, updates, and questions related to your projects. No offense to email, but it simply wasn’t built specifically to handle all of those things – and, for me, attempts to bend it to my will usually end up in frustration and messy, disconnected communications.

This not only contributes to the (likely) already high-stress level of getting things done remotely when you aren’t used to it; it’s just plain ineffective. Rob (and Aidan before him) talks a lot about how great the 3DSwym communities were for his team, and how they could be used by anyone in industry today.

Feeling inspired after all of this? Want to try out some of what you’ve seen, in order to see if these plug-and-play solutions can empower your team like they empowered Jade, Aidan, and Rob? Click here to try them for yourself!

Sean O'Neill

Sean O'Neill

I'm a Community & User Advocacy Manager here at SOLIDWORKS. As a longtime SOLIDWORKS user myself, I love meeting with users and hearing about all the interesting things they're doing in the SOLIDWORKS community!