Engineering Change Management in a manufacturing environment requires significant attention to detail. How many times are change approvals and processes put into a binder stored on the production line floor? Can you easily pull information for a report to upper management? Can adjustments to existing processes be effectively communicated with all employees? This is where paper, email, and spreadsheets begin to break down, and some form of tracking software becomes more necessary.
What are the benefits of using software to track your change management, change control, and process management within a software system, rather than some other mechanism? Let’s talk about the top three.
- Better Communication
It’s no secret that in any business, the number one complaint employees have is the lack of communication from upper management, between departments, or amongst themselves. When confronted, everyone strives to do better, but before long, old ways creep in, and you soon find yourself right back where you were before - wondering what’s going on.
With software, all those involved with the project will get status updates, either through email, or through being able to view the project within the software itself. Open visibility within a software package allows for all the stakeholders to be aware of when changes are implemented, and what steps are involved with the change.
If you have employees in more than one location, or working multiple shifts, the ability to communicate across times zones or shifts is much easier when everything is documented into a single tracked issue that’s accessible globally.
- Increased Productivity
Have you ever started to dive into a project, only to realize that someone else has done some of the preliminary work. Or worse, you spend days or weeks working on it, then find out someone else has done the same thing. No one can get that time back. You’ve lost hours in productivity, and money in man-hours. You can reduce your overall costs if your employees aren’t tripping over one another, duplicating work.
If multiple people need to be involved in a project, it helps if everyone is clear on what part of the project they’re responsible for to avoid unnecessary and duplicated work. A good software package allows your processes to be documented, so that there’s no confusion over which tasks should happen in which order. It also helps productivity if the software lets people know when their portion of the project is ready to be completed. That way, there’s no wasted time with people looking to see whether it’s time for them to do their part.
Who approved that change? When did they approve it? Did they have all the relevant information necessary to make the correct approval? In a manufacturing environment, in addition to change controls, there is preventative maintenance that needs to be undertaken. Do you capture that information to know if perhaps some routine maintenance caused a problem? Was a wrong part installed during a repair process? Who actually did the work?
All of these questions would be easily answered with a tracking software. Any change control processes could be documented within a software package, including all relevant approvals, any supporting documentation, and detailed notes of how changes were implemented.
Additionally, being able to store not only your existing change control issues, but preventative maintenance issues in the same software package gives you opportunities for trend analysis on any issues related to routine maintenance. It also allows you to have a history on the various pieces of equipment, so that if certain pieces fail frequently, you have a record of it.
Additional Value Included
Within each of these main benefits, smaller benefits can be realized, depending on your business needs. It could be cost improvements, better reporting and trend analysis, or just the peace of mind knowing that you were operating at peak efficiency.
Where do your change control processes fall short, and could software help you fill in the gaps?