Delivering Significant Business Value

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As Engineering Document Control Manager, you keep information flowing. You make sure everyone is getting accurate documentation when they need it. You ensure that ECOs are signed off and related systems are updated. When all systems operate smoothly, few notice your department. As a result, you risk salary stagnation. Why does this happen?


What are you going to explain? If you could explain that you saved the company, say $3.5 million, in the last year, what would that mean to your next review, your next job offer?

How do you deliver significant dollar value to the bottom line, value that is recognized by upper management? Here is the plan.


Let’s start by targeting a process to improve.


Part 1 of 4, “Introduction and Step 1”

Target a Process

An OEM had a product lifecycle management (PLM) system for about 4 years. The CEO tasked engineering with leveraging their PLM system to find areas to save money. His goal was to find enough money to hire more for product development. The engineering manager, supply chain manager, and engineering document control manager decided to investigate their ECOs. Why were they initiated? How many did they process? Where were the bottlenecks? What would be the impact of improvements? Using PLM, “Helen” the Engineering Document Control Manager looked through the past two years of ECOs submitted, pending, and released. They were looking for a large-value target that could fund the CEO’s goal. They ran reports and read through ECOs of all categories: Supplier Issue, Cost Reduction, New Feature, New Product, etc.

Once taking this closer look, cost reduction ECOs emerged as a large category lurking in backlog. They were always important, yet never urgent, so they were rarely addressed.

Target Process Found: Cost Reduction ECOs

The company in the story had a CEO initiate the investigation, but you don’t have to wait to be told. Take the initiative.  Don’t accept status quo from your systems, find places to add value.  How do you find opportunities for savings or increased revenue in your organization? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Does your organization have a process that was a holdover from the early days? Can it be re-engineered to meet your current company’s needs in its current market?
  • Does your ECO process involve spreadsheets, emails, shared drives, and manual updates to ERP or other systems?
  • How do your suppliers participate in the change process?
  • Can your supplier’s suppliers, the specialists, participate?
  • Are you leveraging manufacturing knowledge early in the design cycle?

Product Data

  • How does your organization manage product data?
  • What are the business functions and processes that need access to product data, including latest released designs and pending changes?
  • Think about purchasing, engineering, testing, manufacturing, tool and die, marketing, technical writers, suppliers, and more. Can they find product data? Access it? Propose changes to it?
  • How quickly do suppliers get the information they need?

Business Changes

  • How has your business or market changed since you first set up your PLM processes?
  • Do you have more temporary employees, contract employees, or outsourced functions?
  • Are you delivering more product lines?
  • Have you acquired another company or have you been acquired?
  • Do your current processes support the corporate strategies?
  • Is the performance of your processes improving or degrading? (Think new product and feature introductions, ECO backlog, scrap/rework rates.)

Question everything to find a target process. This is your first step to making a big impact in your organization. Take some time now to start looking for areas that you can impact to save money or bring in more revenue.

Next week, I’ll offer some ideas to establish metrics that will help explain the value of improving the target process.

Note: These are some best practices I’ve found. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s meant to start a conversation.  Comment with your response, your ideas and your experiences. If you email them to me, I can post them with a pseudonym or no name. Thank you!

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About the Author

Ann McGuire
Ann brings more than 20 years of product lifecycle management (PLM) and Document Management experience to Arena. Her roles have been outbound: pre-sales support, sales, implementation and training. She started ... Read More 

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