Swegon Engineering

How does communication affect the engineering change management process?

Information design

Swegon North America is a market leader providing solutions for sustainable indoor environments. The company needed a clearer picture of its operation to determine the friction points that are a risk to the business. As part of my LEAN Six Sigma training program, I led a project to research whether a lack of communication within a change management process is a high cost to the business.

Imagine this scenario: a product is engineered and is in the middle of production. A few days later, the customer requests a change to the product. What happens next?

When changes occur to an engineered and manufactured product, a domino effect of challenges often happen, causing significant impacts on the business.

Building the case

Preliminary discussions with business stakeholders helped shed light on silos and risks to the engineering and manufacturing process and justified the need for a thorough diagnosis. A business case that outlines the problem, resources needed, and supporting team members was put together, followed by a detailed research plan to kick-start the project.

What are ECOs, and how might we better utilize them? My research started with a basic understanding of Engineering Change Orders (ECO) in the engineering and manufacturing process. An ECO helps administer and control engineering changes to a Bill of Material (BOM), product or component of a product, manufacturing process, procurement process, or customer requirement. ECOs also ensure proper time management of implementing changes and provide the required approvals from key stakeholders.

Who is impacted by this process, and how might we serve them better? A series of workshops with a subject matter expert from each functional area (e.g. Project Management, Engineering, Operations etc.) helped capture a complete picture.

What does the journey look like, and how might we improve them? Working alongside various subject matter experts, I constructed detailed functional deployment maps to visualize the end-to-end journeys.

The Goal

Use the latest technology — Build best-in-class software using the latest technology for reliable integration, scalability and easy maintenance.

Focus on the customer — Design a user-friendly experience that supports customers at every touchpoint of their journey.

Document and Refine — Keep a repository of journey maps and processes for continuous improvement.

Surfacing pain points and identifying opportunities

The flow mapping exercise uncovered a chain of common pain points, which are classified as a 'cause' (a root cause) or an effect (a pain point resulting from a root cause). After the final research synthesis, I provided a list of recommended next steps for improving the engineering change management process in the following areas of the business:

Lessons learned

At the start of the project, it was challenging to understand processes outside of my area of expertise. Nevertheless, it allowed me to approach the project from a different perspective.

When you are unsure of where to start, ask many questions. Eventually, you'll find a direction and identify the right questions to ask later on.

Digesting a mass amount of information is overwhelming. Record and document as much as you can to return to and study at your own pace.

Presenting complex processes is difficult, especially when you have various stakeholders from different backgrounds. Keep it visual, and make complex processes as simple as possible.

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