Why is Change Process Speed Important?

Picture 38Have you ever thought how important is speed of the process? Thinking about a potential implications of change process speed-up, I got to the conclusion that this can be a very good idea. I will try to explain why. Think about typical change you are making in the product you currently designing and/manufacturing. I’ll try to simulate questions you need to ask yourself and your colleagues to brainstorm and discover to unlock potential of process speed-up.

1. How fast/slow is “the typical change process” in your organization?–> About 20 days
2. How many hours you need to really proceed with this change? –> Abut 4-5 hours
3. How fast process should be in your view? –> 2-3 days
4. What your organization is doing during 18 day left? –> Queue….

This is sounds like obvious, right? However, let’s continue with additional questions that will help you understand what happens in your organization during 18 queuing days.

1. Your suppliers are doing work that probably needs to be returned, reworked or scrapped
2. Your manufacturing facility is making product that needs to be reworked or scrapped
3. Your assembly and test facility is doing unnecessarily tests
4. Your production line down or potentially down for extra 18 days
5. Your organization is shipping product that potentially needs to be fixed or factory returned
6. Your customer is probably waiting extra 18 days.

Now try to calculate worth of all this topic I just mentioned for your organization. I’m sure you got  a very good number to justify your tomorrow’s thinking about why your PLM system is still not managing the overall change process in you organization.

So, what is the conclusion? You need to speed up processes. Period.This is the main role of PLM system that connects organizational dots and makes life blood of your organization to move faster. I’d be very interested to hear about your (or your customer’s) experience.

Best, Oleg



Share This Post

  • I think you are spot-on, Oleg. If PLM isn’t enabling companies to speed-up change, aren’t companies missing a big part of the value? I am interested in a tangential set of questions. Why isn’t PLM helping companies speed-up change? I think there are some possibilities worth pondering (and these play well back into your original point):

    1) We’ll make mistakes if we hurry too much, we need time to “ponder” the change
    2) If everyone was available immediately to review a change together, that would mean that all decision-makers sit around all day waiting for change requests – very inefficient
    3) We have to talk as a group, perhaps multiple times, to make sure that we all have the same understanding of the change (because the data does not always present itself clearly)

    Is PLM helping to address these questions? In some cases, yes, but it is not always clear how PLM is doing this. I think this is one of the large remaining challenges to how PLM can help speed-up the process.

  • Manuel Joseph

    “You need to speed up processes. Period.This is the main role of PLM system that connects organizational dots and makes life blood of your organization to move faster”

    My comments?
    I agree that companies leveraging PLM, do see their daily processes speed up in good %. But how well these PLM tools do their job in connecting the company to suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and finally customers. Not really. PLM works very well within a company, but once its out, its broken, thus breaking communications and leveraging PLM.
    My thoughts are instead of counting on plm to help company, the company define PLM, the way it needs to act.
    Manuel Joseph

  • Jonathan, Thanks for commenting. I will try to ask your questions.

    1. Mistakes are part of our life. Because we harry too much or any other reason. We need to have way to discover them. How? information about decision need to be tracked back to the point and context we took it.
    2. Don’t need to wait. However, I like to say – people shouldn’t be linked to their desks to make a decision or sign for change. Our life is pretty dynamic. Mobile access, multiple devices etc. should allow to people to manage decision process in the most effective way.
    3. I like this one. Collaboration tools need to be improved. Also those that allows to speak together (like Cisco Conference) as well as asynchronous ones (I’m experimenting with Google Wave these days and I see it very promising).

    Yes, I think we need to challenge PLM – also systems and also vendors 🙂 to speed up.
    Best, Oleg

  • Manuel, Good insight. I like to see PLM as something vendors and customers define together. My vision of PLM system as something very flexible – adapting and applied differently to different companies. Best, Oleg

  • Manuel Joseph


    I am no expert and am asking you. Why there is no Standard for PLM?
    e.g. w3C for www.
    e.g. RFC for Int.protocol

    Why not something for PLM? If no standard, we are gonna see Parallel systems with no Intersection.

  • Isn’t the real goal to be right first time and therefore have no change at the end? Is PLM really about processing change or innovation and hitting the target the first time?

  • Manuel – there are no values to be created for the PLM OEM if they adopt and drive standards. Standards mean they cannot differentiate.

  • Brian

    Chris – “Isn’t the real goal to be right first time and therefore have no change at the end? Is PLM really about processing change or innovation and hitting the target the first time?”

    The goal is as you stated it, however, a product with a long lifecycle and long usage life will inevitably change due to simple issues like technology drift and subsequent obsolesence of components.

    In addition the design process is and should be an itterative one. As such you could expect to have draft documents which are initially accepted as OK then later revised to reflect an improved understanding of the overall requirements (not just design but business drivers). This all needs a good change process and the faster and less intrusive it can be the better.

    You will also find that the “best” design will drift once the product is out with consumers through feedback and failure analysis. This all has to go through the change process.

    One of the goals of any Change Management Process should be to ensure that you can “Change Faster and Document Better”.

    In short change is inevitable so come up with a process and tools that allow you to change well.


  • Manuel, I think engineering and manufacturing space is pretty diverse. Companies sees their competitiveness in the way they design, manufacturing and support their product. It is very hard to come with standards that will be working well for everybody. If you add to this competition between vendors situation becomes even worst. If you will find segment of market that is interested in development of standards (i.e. ROSETTANET or STEP), you will see them serving a specific needs. Just my opinion. Best, Oleg

  • Chris, in my view, “change process” is a lifeblood. Especially if you are looking on this from perspective of “continues improvement” as product development. Think about Toyota’s – ‘test, then design process’. Best, Oleg

  • Brian, Thank you for the comment. Very well explained… In my view, fast iteration and support for change will provide an improvement in development and manufacturing process. Best, Oleg

  • The value opportunity is not in processing change faster. If I design somethind buy parts and later realize I need to change say due to desing issues. The speed at which I process this change has little to no return. The cost is derived as a side affect of the change, need to change the tool, need to trash parts in inventory, need to determine a use up strategy etc etc etc. None of this cost is about how fast I process the ECO. At USSC we had a annual scrap budget of $12M and we wanted to reduce this. Scrap was any $ lost due to design problems (Change). So when I tossed 5 parts or 500 parts in the dumpster thier cost hit the budget, along with all the time to process and the implementation cost of the change. The big numbers were not the processing cost. The big numbers were stuff tossed, peoples efforts to come up with use up strategis, tools changes, test, etc… None of this can be reduced by routing the ECO faster. All of this is REMOVED by being right the first time.

  • Oleg the change process is very different then the Toyota process. Change is more about fixing things that you discover are wrong. Meaning the design is released. Toyota is not doing recalls… I do not believe you will find that many VP Engineering guys that are proud about how has they fix their mistakes. You need to differentiate between released cahnge and design evolution. They have nothing in common.

  • Chris,
    “At USSC we had a annual scrap budget of $12M and we wanted to reduce this. Scrap was any $ lost due to design problems (Change).” – it means if you’ll proceed faster with change you will send less parts to scrap… right?

  • Chris, the best joke I heard about ECO, that people asked to rename it to Engineering Mistake Order (:)). So, whatever you call it “change”, “error” or “design evolution” will be ok. The bottom line will be to make it faster. And if you did, you will save some money. This is my assumption. Would you agree? Thanks, Oleg

  • No making changes faster would have no affect on the $12M. That is the point time to process is not where the cost is. The cost is connected to other things. Like the fact that because I made a change I trash things or becasue I make a change I need to buy new tooling. The time to process has nothing to do with the real cost.

  • Chris, I think, if you’ll notify manufacturing about change faster – less stuff will go to scrap. Am I wrong?

  • I honetly would say you are wrong.

  • Chris, Take a look. A little bit old, but impressive historical review on role of time in building competitive advantage.
    Time – The Next Source of Competitive Advantage
    In the end of the day it is all about ability to manage change faster.
    Just my thoughts. YMMV.
    Best, Oleg

  • Brian

    Chris, The $12M scrap would, over the long term, be reduced by having a better & faster change process throughout the entire design/manufacturing cycle. Of course if you have reached high volume manufacturing or have already committed large dollars to tooling then use up Vs scrap will save you money.

    A faster change process will not save much money if you have an inherently flawed design process. If the design process is driven from Clear, Concise and Valid requirements at all stages and all levels of the design then you will end up with less scrap at the later stages. However, in order to keep these requirements up to date you do need a fast change process. Getting it right the first time does not mean that you only have one iteration through the design loop. It should mean that the definition of success is well understood before you start work and you reach something approaching that defined success the first time (ie. at product release to customer). The design process should (must) be iterative and be supported by a fast change process.


  • Brian the original post is about change post design. Certainly during design you want to itterate quickly. But this is not what the post was about. You cannot lump design and post design together.

  • Oleg I agree that opportunity cost is important and time is critical in that measure. But my impression is you were going after hard dollar cost in your post as you never mentioned anything about market opportunity. You cannot lump design, post design, hard dollar and soft dollar together and wave your hands around. If that is this esence of the post you could have stopped at the title and just said “doing things faster is important”.

  • Chris, I’m sorry if I confused you. But how you can completely separate design from other activities? In the organizations I had chance to see, design from scratch is something that rarely happens. On the other side lots of new features introduced for existing product models/configurations or customer-driven changes/configurations happens. So, in this case “change” and everything related to design-to-manufacturing process… Does it make sense? Best, Oleg

  • Chris, If you have market opportunity, but you need 40 days to make a change, you will loose. This is my perspective. Probably, I’m not getting your classification of “hard dollars” vs. “soft dollars”… sorry. Could you explain it, please? Thanks, Oleg

  • Some products evolve, others are discarded and replaced by new products. The discussion around the value of speed of change depends on the type of product you are working with. But I agree there is always value in quicker change. The phrase “time is money” does apply here.
    In fact the more we move to Concurrent Engineering and Production, the more important the speed of processing change matters and becomes an enabler of new ways of doing business.
    Of course, it is not a replacement for striving to get it right the first time. The issue is that “right” is temporal in many industries by the complex nature of some products and the changing market requirements.

  • Conrad, Thank you for your comment. Indeed, 10-15 years ago, when most of manufacturers had no concerns about competition, price and time to market, issue of speed wasn’t so important. Today, it is crucial. Best, Oleg