A global manufacturing company was struggling to manage complex cross-functional processes throughout the organization. In particular, their ECR/ECN (Engineering Change Request/Notification) process was a source of significant inefficiency and manual effort. As the ECR/ECN process had a significant impact on the company’s product data and collateral, issues in the process directly impacted its internal staff, trading partners and customers alike.
- The application in which ECR/ECN items were managed was outdated and inefficiently designed, lacking the capabilities necessary to effectively manage the process.
- The ECR/ECN framework was used to manage numerous processes related to engineering documentation and product data; however, the processes were not well understood by the organization, nor was there any documentation to support them.
- In the absence of effective tools and well-defined processes, the company relied on dedicated ECR/ECN leads to define and manage the required tasks, participants, workflow, status and delivery of the changes, with mixed results.
- The cumbersome nature of the application inadvertently discouraged company employees from using it, resulting in outdated information and limited value.
Our team leveraged a proven approach and leading practices to assess the company’s current environment, develop a future state vision, and implement a solution to clearly address their challenges and generate value for the organization.
- Current State Discovery & Process Mapping — We worked with cross-functional subject matter experts at the company to understand current processes and challenges, the various types of requests being processed, the tasks involved, and roles and responsibilities. Leveraging the data and insights gathered, we mapped current processes to gain alignment with company stakeholders on a clear starting point upon which improvements could be made.
- Future State Process Design & Optimization — Based on our discovery efforts, we identified and prioritized a set of value-creating opportunities and defined guiding objectives upon which the future state solution would be built. We then leveraged leading practices and our process improvement methodology to optimize the processes for each ECR/ECN type and iteratively review with company stakeholders to gain alignment.
- Solution Development & Deployment —With the future state processes defined, we leveraged a leading process automation platform to build corresponding forms and workflows to enable ECR/ECN efforts going forward, including rules and logic to dynamically select tasks required for the requested changes, and routed those tasks to the appropriate individuals to complete. Throughout the process, we defined and executed on a thoughtful communications plan to effectively manage the change for end users, then developed training documentation and job aids to ease the transition to the new process and toolset.
The new ECR/ECN platform immediately resulted in a number of key benefits for the organization that clearly addressed the underlying challenges:
- Automated logic accurately determined required tasks, dependencies and appropriate associates to participate in the process based on the details of the request. This resulted in an immense savings of manual effort and increased quality and consistency of the process.
- Our efforts to define and optimize the processes ensured the right tasks were triggered at the right times, while ancillary “nice-to-have” activities did not hold up more critical tasks. This resulted in increased efficiency and compliance across the organization.
- The workflow platform provided real-time reporting to allow management and associates to quickly understand the status of in-flight ECRs/ECNs and identify bottlenecks.
- The need for an ECN leader role was eliminated, allowing these associates to redeploy their time to more strategic efforts.