For those of you who are unfamiliar with Roima Aton, here’s a quick recap of its change management functionality: The change management process in Roima Aton is based on three main features: (1) Change Object, (2) Workflow, and (3) Impact Analysis tool. The first two create the basis for the first level of change management and are also available in earlier versions of Aton. The third one, Impact Analysis tool, is a new functionality in Aton 7.1. It complements the first two, raising change management to a whole new level.
- Change ObjectChange Objects are configurable and dynamic Business Objects which can be tailored to support the specific change management process of each company. These Change Objects could be, e.g., Feedback, Engineering Change Requests (ECR), Engineering Change Orders (ECO), and Engineering Change Notifications (ECN). Change Objects enable users to collect, identify, and organize changes and the related data throughout every phase of the change process. Each Change Object will have a dedicated form in Roima Aton to fill in the required information. In the early phase of the change process, feedback or change requests can be described quite freely, such as by writing a free-form description or by using pre-defined classifications. Later in the process, in the ECO or ECN phase, the required information is often more accurate and precise. Change Objects can be linked to other relevant product data, such as items, documents, and products, allowing transparency and traceability for the entire change process.
- WorkflowWorkflows are typically used to review and approve documents and items as well as their revised versions. Together with the Change Objects in Roima Aton, Workflows can be used to standardize and automate the whole product change management process. It ensures that all the change proposals and actual changes are managed in a pre-defined order and through defined steps by defined users. It’s possible to automate certain actions in relation to workflow statuses to reduce manual work and avoid human errors.
- Impact analysisThe new Roima Aton Impact Analysis tool raises change management to the next level by offering new tools to analyze, collect, implement, document, and communicate product changes in great detail. The Impact Analysis tool highlights the effects of proposed and implemented changes to items and documents (and other business objects).
To better understand the process, below is one example of a possible change management process framework in Roima Aton. It is based on the CM2 standard, a global enterprise standard for change and configuration management.
In this example, we will use the following four Aton Change Objects: (1) Feedback, (2) Engineering Change Request ECR, (3) Engineering Change Order ECO; and (4) Engineering Change Notification ECN.
The change management process in this example starts from a quite freely defined Feedback, which could be either a development idea, or an improvement proposal provided, for instance, by a customer, production or service personnel, or a subcontractor. This feedback is received and documented through Roima Aton’s feedback form.
Feedback is analyzed and reviewed, typically by a product expert. If the suggested changes seem like a good idea, an Engineering Change Request (ECR) is created in the system based on the feedback.
In step 2, the ECR is analyzed in more detail to determine the potential costs and impacts of its implementation. Defining and analyzing all the impacts typically requires cooperation across the entire supply chain, including different areas of product engineering (mechanical, electrical and software, depending on the nature of the product), purchasing, warehouse, production, subcontractors, and even sales or marketing.
If after this impact analysis phase all parties still agree that the change is indeed relevant, an Engineering Change Order (ECO) is created.
The creation of the ECO initiates and schedules the actual change implementation process. This involves at least the engineering function but may also require some preparations and planning across the entire supply chain.
Typically, to create a new product or module version, several changes are collected and done as a package instead of just making a single change.
Once the engineering work is completed, all the parties are informed of the changes through an Engineering Change Notification (ECN).
ECN is a detailed report about all the changes done in this specific product or module version.
So as concluded above, Change Objects together with proper Workflows create the core of the change management process, available even in earlier versions of Roima Aton. The new Roima Aton version 7.1 complements this core process through a brand-new Impact Analysis (IA) tool, raising your change management process to a whole new level. With the IA tool, you can do all the following:
- Analyze, collect, and define changes in great detail
In Roima Aton 7.1, all changes are collected to a new Impact Analysis table or “change list”. The change list could also be seen as a receipt of the changes that either should be done or have already been done, depending on the phase of the change process. This Impact Analysis table is always connected to a single Change Object.
- Implement changes
With the IA tool, the defined changes (in versioning of items and documents) can be automatically implemented directly to the Aton database. To speed up the process, this can be easily done in batches through the tool’s mass operation.
- Communicate changes
As all changes are documented in detail in the database, the information can effortlessly be used to create a detailed Engineering Change Notification (ECN) to communicate the changes to all relevant parties.
Let’s now look at this same process through a somewhat more practical example.
- STARTING POINT
- STEP #1 - Original configuration
- STEP #2 - Impact analysis
- STEP #3 - Impact Analysis Change List
- STEP #4 - Implement changes
- STEP #5 - Finalize configuration
- STEP #6 - Communicate Changes
As a starting point for this example, let’s assume that we have already accepted and frozen a product configuration with Item A, version 0 (A.0).
As seen in the picture above, Item A has just two parts in its structure, namely Item B, version 0 (B.0) and Item C (C). Item A also has one related document: D1, revision 0 (D1.0).
The change process begins when we receive a feedback notice describing that there is something to fix in the original configuration relating to product A and its part B. In many cases, the feedback at this stage might not be very detailed yet.
At first, a feedback entry concerning this proposal is documented by, e.g., any user, after which the feedback is analyzed by a product expert. If the feedback is agreed to have potential for further consideration, the product expert will create an Engineering Change Request (ECR) for it.
In the Engineering Change Request (ECR) phase, the impacts of the change are analyzed. The main question is this: If we would set out to fix the problem defined in the feedback, what should actually be changed and what would the potential impacts be?
For instance, if we change Item A and its bill of materials (BOM) and the related document, are those possibly used by some other products or configurations and should those, too, be changed as a consequence? And if we changed those, what would the impacts of those changes be? And so on.
All this is analyzed, and the needed changes are listed using the Impact Analysis tool. In many cases, even a minor change might have major impacts on other items and documents. In this example, the result and needed changes are simple: only three changes are needed.
The results of the impact analysis are documented in the Impact Analysis table / change list. It is a detailed description of what needs to be changed.
In this example, the IA Change List would look like this:
- Create a new version of Item A (A.0 → A.1).
- Create a new version of Item B (B.0 → B.1).
In the BOM structure of Item A’s new version 1 (A.1), replace Item B’s version 0 (B.0) with new version 1 (B.1).
- Create new document revision (D1.0 → D1.1) and connect it to the Item A’s new version 1 (A.1).
The IA change list can be used as a task list for the engineering personnel, defining the changes that should be done. Alternatively, the steps could be executed using the Impact Analysis function’s mass implementation tool.
In this phase of the process, the other parties of the supply chain can also start their preparation and planning work using the IA change list, as detailed change information is now documented and available in the system.
Next, in the Engineering Change (ECO) phase, it is time to implement the changes. In the mass implementation tool, the user first selects the desired changes from the list and defines their correct implementation order: for example, new item versions should be created first before they can be used to replace old item versions in the structures.
After this, the system analyzes the selected changes and presents the user with a report of the results. This report determines, for example, whether the changes are possible to implement or if some information is missing or if any other conflicts arise.
After the user has reviewed and acknowledged that everything seems to be ok, the changes are implemented in the database. In practice, this means the creation of new item versions and new document revisions, as well as structural changes like the replacement of items in BOM.
After this operation, the status of each change row in the IA change list is updated accordingly.
After the new versions and revisions of items, structures and documents have been created, the engineers can start the actual engineering work to finalize the configuration by, for instance, updating and modifying CAD assemblies and drawings.
At this stage, engineers no longer need to do any versioning of items or documents.
Once the changes have been implemented and are completed, the detailed IA change list is used to communicate the changes made to this specific version through an Engineering Change Notification (ECN) to all relevant parties of the supply chain.
The IA change list also serves as the documentation of the made changes and is available for future development of the product.
This is, in a nutshell, how the change management process works in Aton 7.1. With the new Impact Analysis tool, you can analyze, collect, and define changes in great detail, implement them efficiently, as well as effortlessly and reliably communicate and document them for future needs and applications.
All in all, the Impact Analysis tool and the entire change management functionality in Aton makes change management easy and helps you boost your supply chain. With Roima Aton, you can rapidly react to market changes, such as new trends in consumer demand or bottlenecks in material availability, allowing you to bring better products to the market fast while striving for efficiency and competitiveness.