Engineering Change Order: Approval Process

 

Introduction

An engineer that begins to work on a change in product design before it’s fully approved could cost a company time and money. It is essential to obtain permission from critical stakeholders in all departments before implementing an Engineering Change Order (ECO). An effective approval process for an ECO follows a strict routine that obtains all necessary signatures, begins with lower-level support, and works its way to upper management. Here are some tips to keep in mind for an optimal ECO approval process that will reduce change order cycle times in a low-cost manner.

 
 

People around a table having a meeting

Simple vs Complex

Approval processes for ECOs vary in degrees of complexity. For instance, if an ECO will not create a great deal of impact on a budget or timeline, it does not require as many sign offs as a more impactful change.

Order

Approval processes for ECOs vary in degrees of complexity. For instance, if an ECO will not create a great deal of impact on a budget or timeline, it does not require as many sign offs as a more impactful change.In the beginning stage of an ECO approval process, the order of signatures is not important. It makes no difference whether a project or design manager approves first. What's essential is that project management meets the minimum number of signatures needed for an ECO to pass to senior leadership.

Hierarchy

Arguably, the most important thing to remember for an ECO approval process is that it must start at the bottom. Get approval from lower-level management before involving senior leadership. When presenting an ECO to upper management, it should already have all the necessary signatures, and the modification plus its impact should be well defined. Senior leadership should be able to be caught up to speed with the product change with clear and concise bullet points.

 
 

Conclusion

Having a comprehensive process for obtaining ECO approvals eliminates ambiguity when communicating product changes throughout a company. If lower-level management does not approve of a specific change in product design, it does not make sense to go to senior leadership with the same request. Also, receiving complete support from designated stakeholders before implementing an ECO will cut costs and save company time.