Engineering change management refers to the transformation of business systems.
It’s not easy, but it is straightforward.
For change managers and change leaders – aspiring or existing – understanding these 6 steps is crucial to success.
A 30-Second Overview of Engineering Change Management
First things first.
Let’s provide an “executive summary” of the process, and then we can get into the nitty gritty details.
What is engineering change management?
Engineering change management is often abbreviated as ECM.
It’s a systematic approach that provides an orderly, structured process for making changes within an organization.
Why is it important?
Having an established change process allows a business to do several things:
- Track the status of change requests
- Prioritize requests
- Process changes efficiently
- Document changes as they are completed
Many change management processes utilize change management tools and software to speed up the process.
The Building Blocks of a Change Management Procedure
Naturally, the exact number of steps implemented will vary from organization to organization.
Also, note that different guidelines utilize different acronyms.
Oftentimes, these will refer to the same essential process – systems change management.
Regardless of the acronyms being used, all engineering change management procedures share the same goals: control, document, and enable efficient changes.
The 10 steps outlined here will give you a good starting point for understanding the process.
Once you understand how it works, you can create a process of your own.
1. Identify the issue that needs to be changed.
The very first step to initiating a change request is to identify the process to be changed.
Depending on the context of your change process, this could be related to a product, a business system, technology, and so forth.
2. Create an engineering change request.
An engineering change request (ECR) is the term used for the official request.
The person initiating the request will coordinate the change request throughout its life cycle. He or she will also include participants, or supporters.
As much as possible, they should be consulted throughout the process.
This will help ensure the change is made effectively, efficiently, and successfully.
3. Build a “case” inside the change request.
To maximize the chances of approval and success, build a “case” inside the request.
- Expected outcomes
- Reasons for the change
- Expected costs
- Potential obstacles
And anything else that can help you create a case for the request.
4. Discuss with peers, tweak, and seek approval.
Seek feedback from those you expect to participate in the change request. They can help you refine it and make it more likely to be accepted.
The better the case you make for the change request, the more likely it is to be accepted.
It is also helpful to seek input in order to create the best outcome possible – a change request without input may end up falling short of its potential.
It is possible that change orders may be accepted only in part. In instances where certain aspects are rejected, you may need to refine the change order.
5. Upon approval, the request is transformed into an engineering change order.
Once authorities approve the change request, it is transformed into an engineering change order (ECO).
The order is no longer a request – now it is an actual order that is in the change process pipeline.
Enlist the help of participants, but remember that you will continue to coordinate the change efforts throughout.
6. The change order’s status is switched to open, and you can begin implementation.
Until this point, the change order can be considered pending – or as a “draft,” depending on the guidelines you are using.
At this point, you begin preparing changes and implementing them.
Laying the groundwork and preparing changes for implementation can take extensive efforts. They can also be rolled out in stages, over a long period of time.
7. Release changes.
Release changes in stages.
To ensure maximum success, work with relevant departments and teams. These could range from HR to IT to organizational development, depending on the nature of the change request.
8. Document and communicate status updates throughout.
One of the core purposes of engineering change management is documentation.
This documentation allows traceability for changes, “track-ability” for problems or issues, and enables more effective change implementations.
It is critical that you document status updates constantly, in whatever change management tool you are using.
9. Close the change order.
Upon completion, the engineering change order is closed.
It cannot be changed further.
Should you require any other changes, even if they are related to the original order, these should be reopened with a new request.
10. Document the results.
Finally, document the changes, its results, and communicate these results to relevant parties.
Conclusion: Documentation Ensures Efficiency
Corporations frequently use engineering change management systems, for the reasons mentioned here.
Such systems reduce error rates, maximize the success rates for change requests, and keep issues to a minimum.
When it comes to organizational change, change management, and business transformation, there are a variety of digital tools that can increase productivity. Some focus on the human element, while the process mentioned here revolves around documentation, processes, and procedures.
Whether your business is undergoing digital transformation, or you need to manage IT services, examine the nature of the change carefully.
Then you can choose a change management system that fits your needs.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.