Designing your engineering change workflow

Part 3: Engineering change form template setup

In Part 1 of our discussion, we defined various engineering change forms and how they're used to create a complete engineering change process. Part 2 described how to design an individual engineering change form's workflow. In this final topic, we'll show how to configure PDXpert PLM software to reflect your new engineering change process.

Engineering change notice

Every engineering change process requires an implementing change form, which in PDXpert we call the Engineering Change Notice. We'll review the software's default ECN template.

Open the Change Form template:

  1. In the Collection Explorer, expand the Changes group, and then expand the Change Forms collection.
  2. Double-click the Engineering Change Notice collection member to open the template window.
  3. Unlock the window for editing by pressing the F2 key on your keyboard.

General tab

  • You can modify the Name and Abbreviation values to suit your company's preferences, such as "Engineering Change Order"/"ECO" or, for broader use, "Change Notice"/"CN". Any previously-created change forms based on the current template will be updated to use the new name.
  • It's a good idea to update the Description to ensure your users understand the purpose and application of the current change form within your own engineering change process.
  • In the Identifier sequence, assign the appropriate change numbering member from the Sequences: Identifier collection. You may want to define separate identifiers for each type of engineering change form. However, assigning every new change form using a common identifier sequence (as set in the PDXpert default database) ensures that no one will ever confuse ECR 1234 with ECN 1234.
  • In the Primary discussion text template, you can specify a prompt that will be displayed to the change form's originator. To edit the current text template, or to create a new one, refer to the Text Templates collection. If you do not want any prompt copied to a new change form, select the empty line from the dropdown list.

Attributes tab

  • If you don't manage the effectivity of each affected item separately, it's often useful to indicate a starting point for the change by marking the Display a starting date and/or serial number checkbox. This allows users to target when all of the affected items on the change will become effective.  Don't enable the ending boundary, since the ECN represents a permanent update to the affected items' release/cancel status.
  • The Manage revisions on Affected tab checkbox should be marked. This displays each affected item's revision.
  • The Releases/cancels items on Affected tab checkbox should be marked. Upon approval, we want the affected items' revisions to be updated from Pending to Released or from Released to Canceled. This is the essential difference between an implementing change and other change types.

Participants tab

  • The Reviewing groups list defines the list of departments that must approve changes of the current form. You can add to the list by dragging a department/group from under an Organization member of the Organizations collection in the Collection Explorer. You can modify the review notification order so that one group (say, engineering) is notified of the routed change before another group (say, manufacturing). Setting a department's sequence to 1 ensures that department is the first to review the change. You can assign the same sequence value to any number of departments, and they will all receive notifications at the same time. (The notification order does not enforce a specific review sequence; any department can review the change earlier than specified.) The reviewer list is a starting point that can be modified when the actual change is created. You can ensure that a specific department's participation can't be changed by setting the department to Locked. The final list of reviewers should always be the least number that are essential to review the accuracy and completeness of the ECN.
  • The Observing persons list is where you put everyone who wants to see the progress and outcome of the engineering change workflow, but aren't participating in the actual review. A user will receive an email notification during the change workflow by dragging the user's name from the Persons collection onto the Observers list. You designate when these observers are informed of a change's progress using the lifecycle phases map in the Workflow tab.

Workflow tab

Each lifecycle state has paths that guide the change through the workflow. Each path can be enabled or disabled according to certain built-in rules, and each path can also have certain groups of users notified as the change moves along that path. Perhaps the simplest way to set the workflow is to ask these questions:

  1. Does your organization have a person whose role provides for checking the accuracy and completeness of the Engineering Change Notice after it's been created, and before it's routed for approval? Such a QA role may be a separate group called Document Control or Configuration Management, or an informal role handled by the originator's supervisor. If the role exists, then enable path #02; otherwise enable path #03 (you can let your change originator choose by enabling both paths).
  2. Does your organization have a person whose role provides for checking the accuracy and completeness of the Engineering Change Notice after it's been approved by the reviewers, and before it's released? If the role exists, then enable path #13; otherwise enable path #14. When the final approval is saved, the system will automatically move the ECN's lifecycle state to Accepted (for QA) or Released (for immediate release of all affected items).
  3. If a reviewer disapproves the change, do you want the change to be immediately canceled (#11), rejected (#09), returned for rework (#08) or stopped for further discussion (#10)? We usually recommend that it be stopped (#10) and the next step considered on a case-by-case basis.

Other change forms: Engineering Change Request

Although configuring other change forms, such as the Engineering Change Request, is substantially similar to the Engineering Change Notice, the critical difference is in two checkbox settings on the Attributes tab:

  • The Releases/cancels items on Affected tab checkbox should be cleared. Upon approval, we don't want the affected items' revisions to be released or canceled; that's what the ECN does.
  • The Manage revisions on Affected tab checkbox should be cleared. This displays only the affected items, without any indication of what the revision is now or will become. We don't know what other changes may occur before an ECN is processed for this ECR, so we can't say with certainty what the revision value will be.

Other change forms: Stop Shipment

Although other change forms may use starting and ending boundaries, these values are particularly relevant to temporary change forms, such as a Stop Shipment or Deviation. On the Attributes tab, note that you can enable fields for a starting date and/or serial (or lot code) number, as well as for an ending date, serial number, and/or total permitted quantity.

In the case of a Stop Shipment form, you may want to enable only the ending boundary; the beginning boundary can be enabled if you want it explicitly set, or the implied value is "immediately". Set the label to "Resume shipments on" or a similar indication of when a resolution should be expected.

This application note was relevant to the PDXpert software release that was current at time of publication. Product changes since that time may affect its utility. We'd be happy to assist you in assessing the applicability of this note to your situation.

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