Engineering Change Orders 101

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An engineering change order (ECO) does a lot of things—it describes a change, identifies the impact of the change and ensures that the right people have reviewed and approved the change.

To avoid potential design, manufacturing and inventory errors or miscommunications with your teammates and suppliers, your ECOs need to exist in a clear, organized format that translates across departmental lines.

When it comes to ECO management, you have two main options. You can choose to use a paper-based system typically involving multiple spreadsheets and manila folders or you can use an automated product lifecycle management (PLM) system. Choose wisely, because your decision will have a direct impact on your cycle times, signature processes and how you resolve issues and format data.

Check out the table below to help you weigh the pros and cons of these two options.

Creating an engineering change order: paper vs. electronics

Managing ECOs with a paper-based process

Managing ECOs with an electronic system

Generally reviewed one person at a time. If multiple copies are distributed, edits must be consolidated and reviewed again.

Many people can review at the same time and all edits are made to a single version, so no consolidation is needed.

Early approvers aren't aware of later edits, so several rounds of review are required.

All approvers sign off on the same set of documentation.

Individuals need to be tracked down to respond to new issues.

Comments are easy to view and share, and hold-ups are resolved quickly.

Someone needs to print and manage a large paper file of documents and drawings.

The ECO is easy to create and access because it's managed in the same system as underlying product information.

If you’re already using an automated system, find out if your solution enables change management. Arena BOMControl is focused around BOM and change management and offers a transparent, flexible engineering change process. If you decide to manage your ECOs with a paper system (which, if you couldn’t tell, we don’t recommend), here are some free ECO templates and examples for download to get you started. 

To learn more, you can try out BOMControl for free for 30 days. I encourage you to see for yourself how it can improve the way you manage your product.

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About the Author

Alyssa Sittig
Alyssa played an instrumental role in the development of the Arena Blog and social media channels from 2011 to 2012. Joining the team with a background in public policy, Alyssa ... Read More 

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