ECO Management: What Matters?

ECO Management: What Matters?

Engineering Change is probably one of the most important and complicated disciplines. I had a chance to meet people that told me – all what you are doing is about ECO management. You can see many examples of ECO management solutions. Almost every software vendor in the field of engineering and enterprise software will propose you kind of the solution. Here is the definition, I grab from Wikipedia about Engineering Change Order:

In a typical system development cycle, the specification or the implementation is likely to change during engineeringdevelopment or during integration of the system elements. These last-minute design changes are commonly referred to as engineering change orders (ECOs) and affect the functionality of a design after it has been wholly or partially completed. ECOs can compensate for design errors found during debug or changes that are made to the design specification to compensate for design problems in other areas of the system design.

However, product development process is very diversified when it comes to real manufacturing companies.  To find a system that can answer on the user’s requirements for ECO is not a simple task. In addition to that, the diversity of available solutions raises multiple questions about what is the most appropriate system for every case.

Engineering Change: Do It Yourself (DIY)?

Last year I posted – How to Manage ECO without paying $1’500 per seat? The point I wanted to make was about how reuse some of the modern technologies to simplify the overall ECO management in the organization. My conclusion was that different organizations can manage ECO differently depends on specific characteristics of product, company environment and organization, which can make DIY approach quite complicated. It made me think and analyze different packages implementing ECO solutions.

Arena Change Management

Take a look on this following video from Arena Solution. I found it very educational. The power of Arena on demand was clear to me in this example. The ability to have seamless access via cloud-based services (or how Arena called it in the beginning “on demand”) can keep all participants in sync regardless on location and time.

Aras Workflow Management

What happens if your company has a high level of change processes complexity? The following video fragment is presenting Aras Innovator Workflow solution. It enables you to realize a comprehensive change process as a workflow. The workflow can be adapted to a specific customer needs. The openness and adaptability is an ultimate advantage of this system.

Kubotek ECO Manager

Few weeks ago, I learned about the new tool released by Kubotek. The interesting aspect I discovered in this tool is how it focuses on geometrical aspects of product and changes. It is clear not something you need in every industry. However, for the type of manufacturers in automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment and many other industries requiring 3D and geometry, Kubotec ECO manager can provide a significant value in the way to handle changes.

What is my conclusion? ECO is a an important, but very complicated process. It involves many people from organizational departments to work on this and following ECO related activities from inside and outside organization. To have an appropriate tool is important. When you choose a tool, take into the consideration what are specific characteristics of your organization from the standpoint of mobility, complexity, need for visual and 3D before you make a right choice. In parallel, the simplicity of a tool is another important thing. To have a simpler can be a much bigger problem for manufacturers in coming years.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

Freebie.

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  • Dnoordhoorn

    Oleg,

    I do not agree at all that ECR (Engineering Change request) and ECO (Engineering Change Order) are complicated. On the contrary, they are simple in nature: ECR is about documenting and initiating a requested change, investigating if it is worthwile or necessary and finally about deciding whether or not to do it. ECO is about issueing a work order to implement an agreed change or agreed changes in the product documentation, tracking the execution and finally releasing the implemented changes.

    That’s all about it. You can make it very complicated by defining elaborate workflows with obscure rules, you can keep it simple by defining a very simple workflow and assigning a coordination role to a key person in the workflow.

    And.. a tool will help, but only when you have clearly defined your process steps, otherwise it will be a matter of “a fool with a tool is still a fool”

    Douglas

  • http://kiniajit.wordpress.com Ajit Kini

    Oleg/Douglas,

    I believe ECO complication increases when you have a grouping of ECOs(or Mod Stacks) and ECO prerequisites/dependencies, subsequent applicability etc. As such the ECO creation is an easy job but the approval workflows can become complicated if its not implemented properly. Also,ECO implementation differs across industries.

    Thanks,
    -Ajit

  • http://twitter.com/paatwil Patrick Willemsen

    Douglas,

    ” investigating if it is worthwile or necessary ” – the investigation or defining the impact is exactly what makes it complicated. Today an ECR/ECO does not stick to engineering alone anymore – as concluded by Oleg as well -, but will in many cases have an impact on other areas of the business; manufacturing, planning, field services, …

    Therefore, I like Enterprise Change Order or Enterprise Change Notification (ECN) as used by ICM better.

    – Patrick

  • beyondplm

    Douglas, Thanks for your insight! I’d pick the following sentence from your comment — “…Only when you have clearly defined your process steps, otherwise it will be a matter of “a fool with a tool is still a fool”. From my experience, the conversation around this topic takes months in many companies. And this is going down to what Patrick mentioned – the analyses of impact become very critical. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Patric, thanks for your comment. I agree, the investigation of impact and analysis – this is what takes a lot of time and effort in organizations. The biggest problem is information availability. Just my opinion, of course… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Ajit, thanks for your comment! I agree, the approval process gets complicated. And it is different not only across industry, but also between different companies in the same industry. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • rory

    In my past life, we developed an “enterprise change orders” module. Since most plants produce different products or packages for products, have local suppliers, different equipment, often legacy MRP/ERP solutions and varying degrees of plant automation; a master enterprise change order coordinates the engineering change order and multiple plant level ECOs.
    Since stuff happens at each plant or vendor issues arise, visibility into the each ECO and risk mitigation processes were critical. If you were launching an promotion or ad campaign, stock outages resulted in competitive sales.
    During a new product introduction process review, ECO reared its ugly head. While a few company can effectively manage a new product introduction; few can manage shorter lead time changes like supplier viability or rising commodity cost driven line extensions. Since these are viewed as major changes, few companies are staffed for the long tail of change management. Even if the product standard of identity does not change, a change in density can trigger a number of events. To support the onslaught of reformations, we are being asked to extend their Enterprise Change Orders to support sales/marketing and outbound activities. When the pilot plant signs off, we start a dynamic publishing process to create major customer and product line specific technical data sheets, we start collaborative processes to create SBU specific FG data and pricing, we manage packaging process and BOM releases, manage the update of their CRM tables and create rules for their multiple warehouses and supply chain planning products. For each plant level ERP variant, we map to the local formats and capture any additional data.
    For food service or sample/to order businesses, most PLM products lack key data. Even for companies with PLM, the cost and time to reconfigure and retrain is too expensive.
    Integration of Enterprise Change Order Process is likely to become a standard requirement.
    rory

  • beyondplm

    Rory, thanks for your comment and insight! Enterprise Change Order (I never heard this name before) make sense. However, I’m not sure usage of the same name (ECO) will not confuse people. Just my thoughts. Best, Oleg