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Brad's Tech Advice: Company Set Up Series - Part 2: Top-level Company & Folder Organization
When moving to Onshape from another CAD platform the first few things to consider are company organization, project structure and design workflows. Since Onshape is not file-based it will help to pre-plan before getting right into the design process.
We have found that companies that take the time to whiteboard out their current organization structure and work with us to set up how it will look in Onshape have a much smoother transition for their team.
Company organization will be discussed from the perspective of a Professional Onshape company. There is another layer of Organization within the enterprise domain today called ‘Projects’. With that said Projects can be worked in to enhance the ideas and practices discussed here.
When it comes to organizing your data within Onshape Professional it is important to consider your day to day operations.
There is a lot to look at when it comes to setting up a Company within Onshape. Here I am going to look past a few things within the Company Settings page and focus on the organizational structure of how a company could be set up within Onshape.
Consider the following organizational structure in the image at the top of this post. My company is very project-oriented. Within, we have a set of in-house designs that are used across multiple projects as well as supplier bought items that we need represented as CAD models. All of these components are placed within the Common Components folder which is shared with the entire company with View and Link document permissions. When a new hire is added, on day one, they are able to access these important parts with minimal effort since the company is shared in (Enterprise has a team called All Company Users that can serve the same purpose for non-guest users).
Then, we have project Folders that house and contain project-specific designs and information. The project manager will have edit, share, and delete access to the top-level folder so that they can then help allocate permissions to the rest of the team. The team working on this may just have view permissions to the entire project folder at the top level for now.
As the company admin, I also decided to create folders so that each engineer can have a personal space to work on personal projects if needed (this is handled differently within an Enterprise where you may choose to allow Onshape users to utilize their cad.onshape.com domain for personal use to keep the enterprise domain clear of that data).
The Administrator’s Perspective
It is important to remember that as an Administrator, you will have visibility to ALL of the data within the company. That is why these personal folders are also important. It will help to keep your space clear of loose documents that can quickly get in the way of your work. At the same time, it will be important to stress to your team that no other user will be able to see data that they create until it is shared with the company, a team or individuals. I am here to encourage the use of teams and company sharing as much as possible over individual sharing as it will make permission management much easier. Individual control is then maintained as you add and subtract users from a team rather than hunting through all of the documents they are a part of.
As of today, Onshape documents and folders can be ordered alphabetically, by date last modified, and by the name of the last person to modify it. This has driven the strategy with how I set up my company folders. Since the company is set up to be very project-oriented, I have named my folders starting with the project number and then a description. This way, when I filter my documents alphabetically from Z-A , they appear as seen below.
I also have the personal folders and a ‘to organize’ folder set up with an underscore “_” in the beginning of those folder names so that they filter to the bottom and below my initial line of sight. Again, as an administrator, I also like having an easy life too. I use emojis in this company’s folder naming convention for two reasons; first, they look cool when I show my screen, and second, by having an emoji in the beginning of my common components folder name it filters to the very top. Again, I am doing this with the mindset that I will get the rest of the company on board with filtering by name so that we all have the same view at the top-level.
Administrators or project managers should be the only ones to create top-level folders and then share the appropriate users and teams in. Keeping this practice in place will help keep the top-level company view organized.
When onboarding a new user one of the first things I do is create a personal folder with the proper naming convention to organize it, then add them to the company and individually share them in, then add them to the appropriate teams so that they gain access to the right data. The personal folder will be the only top-level folder they are individually shared into. By being added to the company, they will automatically gain access to the Common Components folder which is shared out with the company, and then they will be added to the proper project based on the team they are a part of.
For an Onshape Professional Company, Teams will be the main unit of organization for sharing permissions and data access. If you plan on working with third-parties and even allowing them to edit data (maybe they have their own paid account or you get them a seat within your company), teams will be extremely important in making sure that they only see the documents and information that you want them to.
Teams are useful for both permission management and organization of Documents. In the left side of your main Documents page, you can see all of the teams you are a part of and filter through the documents shared with that team.
In the example image below, this company works with outside consultants so they do not use the company sharing option. Instead, an “All Company Users” team is created to keep the consultant from seeing any data they shouldn’t that’s shared with the rest of the organization. This does add an extra admin step of making sure the team lists are in order but it is worth the step to ensure that you can work with third parties on your company data when needed. A similar set up can also be made if you are giving customers access to data rather than consultants (Within Enterprise this is handled with the use of Projects and role-based permissions).
It is important to understand how permissions to an individual account work, especially when removing a user from your Onshape organization. Just because you remove a user from an Onshape company does not mean they lose access to their account. They don’t. An Onshape account is tied to an individual user so their account becomes downgraded to a free account. It’s access to your company data that is the important thing here. Our built-in admin control makes this very straightforward and gives you clear options on how to handle removing a user. Read all about it in the 3rd prerequisite.
While we will get into more details around finding things within Onshape later on, now is a good time to think about how you typically search for parts, assemblies, and drawings when you work day to day. Does your company typically reference the part number and that is what you search? Do you typically focus on one project and look under that project folder or tag? Do you tend to reference descriptive names or is there a naming convention for parts? All of these questions and more will help establish which pieces of information are important.
Document names, part names, and part numbers are the three most important pieces of information you can start to take advantage of within Onshape. When migrating data over, it will be important to remind users that the Document name and part names are 2 separate things.
Remember, you are also in a browser. There are a lot of powerful capabilities within a browser that you can take advantage of. One that we have found to be extremely useful is with creating your own search engine for your CAD database.
Keeping the whole view in mind
During this entire process, it’s important to keep thinking about how you will be working as a company, team, and individual. Make sure you are designing your Onshape company structure to fit the needs and means with which you work. Below is a high-level overview of how my company typically works, including how individuals and teams interact with the design and design data. As this series progresses we will get into more detail around all of the interactions within this diagram (hint: right-click and open this image in a new browser tab to zoom in and see more details).
[Link- Part 3: Managing a ‘Common Components’ Folder]