Change management (sometimes called configuration management) is a vital part of Product Lifecycle Management. It's how companies manage the many changes that happen during ideation, design, manufacturing, service and beyond. Effective change management involves product revisions and redlines, document versions, impact analysis, change orders, and workflow approval processes. Change management isn't just for engineering and manufacturing - the same principles of collaborating and communicating is just as vital for marketing, sales channels and partners.
- Product revisions: companies need to track different revisions for their items and assemblies. Graphical redlines can help make it easier to visually see what's changed. Revisions can be managed for product attributes like description, manufacturer parts, BOM hierarchies, sales attributes like pricing, and more. BOM comparisons or revision comparisons make it easier to see what's changed from one revision to another.
- Document versions: just like items, documents need to be managed for changes as well. Documents like marketing assets may go through their own separate versioning or revisioning process, whereas different versions of engineering files may be tied to specific product revisions. Integration to external document repositories like CAD vaults, Google Drive, Sharepoint and Dropbox may also be required.
- Change orders: in order to go through a revision change, companies use change orders like Engineering Change Requests (ECRs) and Engineering Change Orders (ECOs). This will allow all relevant stakeholders to weigh in on a proposed change. Since the formality or complexity of change order processes varies from company to company, it's critical to have a very flexible change order system that can be configured to each company.
- Impact analysis: during the change order process, companies need to do an impact analysis of the change. Often times, an impact analysis may be unnecessary, but as a product gets closer to launch, change impact analysis should consider factors like inventory, market timing, customer commitments, production changes and more.
- Workflow approval processes: change orders should go through a configurable approval process, where changes get routed to the appropriate people. Advanced workflow and approval processes allow for companies to use criteria like product line, geography, impact or change type to get approvals from the right stakeholders.
Benefits of Change Management
Companies who have a strong change management can expect the following benefits:
- Faster time to market
- Increased revenue
- Higher productivity
- Less rework
- Higher product quality
Find out more about PLM
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