How Onshape Scaled Onboarding From Dozens to Thousands of Customers


Training the Next Generation of CAD Users

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Onshape is a computer-aided design (CAD) software company that was founded in 2012. Used by engineers and designers in more than 170 countries, the company’s industry-leading 3D CAD platform has been used by its customers to log over 5 million hours of projects. Learn more at Onshape.com

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The Challenge

Onshape's leadership team identified the need to upgrade their online learning platform so that it could scale to meet the growing demands from its users in more than 170 countries.

With this challenge, Onshape's project team knew they had to deliver an exceptional user experience their customers would embrace. As David Katzman, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Business Development explains, “One of the challenges of bringing a new product to market after 25 years is that we face a very entrenched market. So, one of the big obstacles we need to address is onboarding, or bringing people up the learning curve as fast as possible so that they can use our software effectively.”

To complicate the scope of this project, the company had years of training content scattered across different platforms, and the team was using multiple databases to log customer information. Collectively, these two scenarios made it impossible for the company to track and maintain a cohesive customer education program.

With much at stake, the Onshape team knew they needed to find a solution that could help them:

  • Quickly and effectively scale their customer onboarding program
  • Provide a learning platform that would foster the customer experience while increasing product adoption
  • Consolidate training assets in a single platform
  • Migrate customer information to a centralized database
  • Track and report customer training behaviors so that the company can develop a stronger, more effective training platform

The Solution

Onshape decided to build a new online learning center using the Thought Industries PlatformOffering a fully white-labeled learning experience, the new platform allows Onshape’s customers to enjoy a consistent and seamless user experience from any device.

In addition to providing a fully customizable brand experience, the Thought Industries Platform offers powerful customer learning features like integrated authoring, third-party integration and performance reporting that will allow Onshape’s leadership team to publish, manage, and report from a single platform.

To ensure the overall success of this project, Thought Industries assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager to manage day-to-day interactions with the Onshape team. As an advocate, trainer, and coach, the CSM is responsible for helping Onshape to get the most out of their platform over the life of the partnership.

Delivering a Customer Experience that Scales and Retains.

“Before we implemented the learning center in Thought Industries, we were only able to serve dozens of customers at a time. Now, we're able to serve thousands.”

David Katzman,
Vice President of Strategic Accounts & Business Development

“Having such a complete and thorough customer training process means more successful customers, which really helps Onshape improve our retention efforts.”

Katie Huffman,
Training & Content Manager


In May 2017, Onshape launched its new learning center, which featured free self-paced online training courses to the delight of thousands of users around the world.

Since deploying the new training ecosystem, the Onshape team has already been able to

  • Scale Customer Onboarding Capabilities: As David Katzman from Onshape explains, "Being able to scale this training to customers all around the world is what we're doing here. Before we implemented the learning center with Thought Industries, we were only able to serve a couple of dozen customers at a time. Now, with the new system, we can serve thousands."

    As a result of Onshape's improved customer onboarding capabilities, the company can attract new customers and help them quickly understand the product and its key differentiators.

  • Strengthen Customer Experience: According to Katie Huffman, Training and Content Manager, the back office reporting features helps her team continually improve the Onshape learning experience.

    "By having all these metrics in one place, we're able to sift through what the people are asking for and provide them the content they want."


 Thought Industries has given us great insight into how our customers become educated and understand Onshape's key differentiators. In turn, they become spokespeople for us just in learning about how awesome Onshape is. 

  • Improve Customer Engagement: While issuing product releases every three weeks, the Onshape team is able to keep their customer community actively engaged and eager to learn new ways to leverage the 3D CAD software. "Thought Industries has been great at adding new functionality to the platform that keeps pace with our own release cycle. This really helps us push our customer engagement and learning initiatives," explains Huffman.

  • Drive Customer Retention and Advocacy: Having a comprehensive customer training process hosted on a single system helps the Onshape team create happy customers. As Katie Huffman elaborates, "Thought Industries has given us a lot of insight into how our customers become educated and understand Onshape's key differentiators. In turn, they become spokespeople for us just in learning about how awesome Onshape is."
The training really helps our customers see the light or the Onshape way, and that has helped our business grow.

Katie Huffman
Training & Content Manager, Onshape

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