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Engineering Change Order (ECO) Management 101

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 a manual or paper-based system typically involving spreadsheets, folders, or other point-solutions to share documents 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 PLM is designed to streamline new product development, new product introduction, and speed collaboration with your internal teams and supply chain partners. Still not sure, check out some of Arena’s over 1,300 global customers.