Dealing with change is a known challenge for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Whether it’s a new design requirement, engineering change order, or last-minute customer request, changes disrupt tight schedules, causing delays and cost overruns. But not everybody falls behind when confronted with the unexpected. In fact, some companies distinguish themselves with how they handle change.
Assembly and test rig from IMA Engineering, a company that uses direct modeling to manage unexpected changes without slipping schedules.
Best-in-Class Plan and Learn from Change
The Aberdeen Research paper “Engineering Change Management: Avoiding Bottlenecks for Competitive Advantage” states that best-in-class companies share common values and traits when it comes to managing change
Predictable and standardized processes. The best-in-class are 70% more likely than others to create a formal plan to implement engineering changes.
Readily available information related to the change. The best-in-class are 73% more likely than others to include supporting product data when creating a change order.
Infrastructure to oversee the entire change process. The best-in-class are 81% more likely than others to formally review and approve changes.
Performance measurement to plan, execute, and evaluate. The best-in-class are 79% more likely than others to have a formal audit of the change management process.
In short, successful companies know to expect change, and they plan and learn from it.
How Best-in-Class Use Technology
Aberdeen’s research also consistently shows that technology is the catalyst for the best-in-class to achieve product development goals. Two of the most important tools for managing change are product data management (PDM) and flexible modeling:
PDM technology. Systems like PTC Windchill PDM Essentials make it easier to manage important product data. Including CAD files, BOMs, analysis files, and related information with a change request means that teams can use correctly and efficiently complete the change. With powerful workflow options, they can also establish a change management workflow.
Direct modeling technology. Integrated tools, like PTC Creo Flexible Modeling Extension (FMX), help teams directly change parametric feature-based models and record and preserve the changes without worrying about design intent. Companies of all sizes and in many different industries are adding flexible modeling capabilities to their parametric solutions. They are seeing the advantages of handling late-stage or unexpected design changes more effectively than before.
Take IMA Engineering, a firm that works with a variety of high-profile companies, like Philips Lighting. The IMA team regularly encounters incompatible CAD files they didn’t create, legacy data and sources, and late-stage design changes.
The right direct modeling tool keeps them on track. “Implementing PTC Creo FMX has reduced late-stage design changes by 15%,” says Bart Aerens, Managing Director at IMA. The video below is an excellent introduction to flexible modeling and how it works.
Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC. She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years, working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.