The Perfect Engineering Change and Concessions Management System

L

LK-UK

#1
calling all happy Change Engineers!
I'm looking for an electronic system to manage Engineering changes & concessions (must do both) at a huge multi-site Automotive company.
Could you please share your experience with what you've been using (if you state any pros/cons I'd be really grateful).
much appreciated
a frustrated Engineer tired of constantly having to remember where the blinking piece of paperwork went to:frust:
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
calling all happy Change Engineers!
I'm looking for an electronic system to manage Engineering changes & concessions (must do both) at a huge multi-site Automotive company.
Could you please share your experience with what you've been using (if you state any pros/cons I'd be really grateful).
much appreciated
a frustrated Engineer tired of constantly having to remember where the blinking piece of paperwork went to:frust:
What will help you most is knowing the process you are contemplating is most commonly called "Configuration Management" (CM) and a google search of "configuration management software" will turn up many proprietary and open source candidates to fit any budget or computer platform.

I've written about CM often over the years here in the Cove. The biggest hurdle you will face is converting all your legacy documents to searchable, retrievable form. You may need some expert consultants to help. It would probably be cost-effective for an organization your size to consider an overall electronic document management system to cover ALL documents in the enterprise.

It won't be cheap, brother, but choosing to do so will pay for itself many times over if done correctly - no "shortcuts!" The most expensive part is not the software, itself, but the labor in converting documents and training users.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#3
calling all happy Change Engineers!
I'm looking for an electronic system to manage Engineering changes & concessions (must do both) at a huge multi-site Automotive company.
Could you please share your experience with what you've been using (if you state any pros/cons I'd be really grateful).
much appreciated
a frustrated Engineer tired of constantly having to remember where the blinking piece of paperwork went to:frust:
One large multi-site company I worked for, the name of which I won't mention except to say it was Harley-Davidson :tg:, used Teamcenter which has since been acquired by Siemens. A very comprehensive and no doubt proportionately expensive thing, but it worked very well.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Document management (both manual and electronic) has been a particular specialty of mine for for 40+ years. I try to keep abreast, but I can practically guarantee that any brand name recommendation I might give today might be obsoleted by a competitor's new development tomorrow, so I never publish a brand name recommendation.

I do, however, provide a set of guidelines which might help folks looking to adopt an electronic system. I first wrote this ten years ago. One small addition a year or so ago has made it [almost] current for today's use:
Quote:
Make sure you know and understand the difference between "document sharing" and "document management."

Here's a brief summary to start you off:

Document Management Software

Background:
An organization wants to improve efficiency of document management by “grafting” a program over current legacy files and all newly-created files which will provide the following minimum benefits:

a) Ease of Search & Retrieval (on different fields/characteristics)


b) Ensure only the most recent revision is available on standard Search menu

c) Automate the procedure of notifying pertinent parties a document is ready for redlining

d) Maintain an audit trail for the status of documents (released or waiting for checking/approval [and by whom])

e) Allow “full preview” of documents without opening native programs – i.e. AutoCAD documents can be viewed without latest revision of AutoCAD being resident on user’s computer.

f) Permit “group printing” of documents, regardless of native file format.

g) Maintain up to 30 security levels on any document, determining whether user has authority to create, modify, redline, view, print, copy, etc.

How do they work?
The primary feature of Document Control Software is a relational database which manipulates very small files called “metatags”, which relate to certain attributes of documents. Basic attributes are file name, revision level, author, topic, key words, type of file format, etc. which are used for field headings in the database.

By querying the database, a user retrieves a “menu” of documents which meet the search criteria. Self-contained viewing software permits a user to view and print documents, regardless of the native file format. The views can be scrolled, zoomed, and cropped (i.e. user can print an enlarged detail of a document.)

Users who have redline authority can markup documents without invoking the native file program (the redlines are saved as “overlays” in separate files without changing the original document.)

Users who have checking/approval/redline authority can be automatically notified via email when a document is ready for their review. The program will track when and whether the review is completed and maintain an audit trail for “real time” status reports on any or all documents in the review process.


By keying on the attribute “Revision level”, the program can ensure only the most recent, authorized revision is available to most users, reserving authority to view “superseded” documents to special categories of users.

An important consideration in grafting legacy documents into the new system is choosing fields pertinent to the organization. Many documents, like autocad and word documents have features which provide automatic tags (create date, author, department, etc.) [click on "properties" under File in a Word document to get an idea of already available fields.]

The problem is most users write documents which still show "valued customer" as the author because they have never explored the Properties feature.

An expense to consider is going back into each legacy document and adding the meta tags which allow for sorting and retrieval.

I hope this helps - there are many consultants like me who would come in and give your organization background on choosing the best brand for your organization. Caution is "Are they truly independent or do they have bias toward one brand?"


I didn't add in that post that most software programs have web versions, too. In point of fact, the documents "could" be located either on one server or scattered among hundreds or even thousands of hard drives or servers as long as they were connected or accessible via password over a network, a virtual private network, or the internet.

[<SNIP>

Back to today
Google "electronic document management" to see some other thoughts on this topic. I hesitate to recommend ANY product by brand name, because the competitive nature of the business is that one company can be hopelessly obsolete in a month or two and another can have a great breakthrough in the same period. Regulatory laws change quickly - a user's current and projected situation in that regard are important factors. Current quantity of documents and projected number of authors and changes are a major factor. Collaboration with suppliers and customers is another big factor. __________________
I can add that, back in the mid 90s, my organization spent over $200,000 creating an electronic data and document management program from scratch. It was unique and wonderful for its time, but hopelessly obsolete and simplistic today (everything was written in COBOL.) Today, a sharp shopper can get a pretty good program for less than $500 per seat (a computer and its operator which have author rights.) Many programs, especially web-based ones, have no extra charge for folks who can only read or print documents, not implement any changes. This is very handy for allowing customers and suppliers access to see documents pertinent only to them.

Do you have a time table for your implementation? Will you be adopting a large number of legacy documents into the system? How many new documents would you generate from your people in a week? a month? a year? How many changes (revisions) to existing documents in those same time frames? Do you have a budget range for accomplishing this? How sophisticated (computer-savvy) are your folks? Will they need mild training or intensive training? Are you budgeting the time and expense for that training? Do you envision collaboration with folks in different geographic locations (customers? suppliers? consultants?)

If anything, let me caution you that this decision on software is one which should take some intensive research and analysis. Often, trying to save a few dollars on the initial capital expenditure is penny wise and pound foolish because of the extra time and effort required by users to implement or "work around" bare bones systems compared with feature-rich ones.
 
L

LK-UK

#5
Thanks for the suggestion Jim, what would you say the pros and cons of Teamcentre are in a nutshell?
much appreciated!
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
Thanks for the suggestion Jim, what would you say the pros and cons of Teamcentre are in a nutshell?
much appreciated!
I would think initial expense would be one of the main considerations, although the system is somewhat modular. H-D went from a rather clunky Lotus Notes setup to the full-blown Teamcenter implementation and the transition took a while (a year or so) but once it was running it was great.
 
L

LK-UK

#7
Jim, does Teamcentre do both ECR's and concessions? What's it like to upkeep (do you reckon a dedicated Admin on each site is required)? Where does it stand on user-friendliness?

Other Quality people - are you still running around with bits of paperwork??? I don't believe that for a minute! So don't be shy and brag about the fantastic (or horrific) system you've got at work.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#8
Jim, does Teamcentre do both ECR's and concessions? What's it like to upkeep (do you reckon a dedicated Admin on each site is required)? Where does it stand on user-friendliness?

Other Quality people - are you still running around with bits of paperwork??? I don't believe that for a minute! So don't be shy and brag about the fantastic (or horrific) system you've got at work.
Teamcenter can handle any kind of documentation you have. At H-D it was used for everything from drawings to ECNs to deviations (concessions) and QMS documentation including review and approval. If it's run on a central server there probably wouldn't need to be a dedicated administrator at each site, but the site IT people would need to be familiar with the system.
 
L

LK-UK

#9
As you say Jim: 'providing the IT people on the site have understanding'. That's one of my roadblocks here:(
 
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