I am a PLM sales person…and the title of this blog entry may imply that I am whining about my job. While I am not immune to the occasional emotional episode / mild tantrum, the title of this blog entry has a purpose. I assure you that this purpose has nothing to do with my emotional state.
Companies that contact InFlow are generally not looking to buy a PLM solution. Rather, they are looking to solve complex issues in their organization. Often times, the connection between the issue and the definition of PLM is somewhat cloudy. Therefore, my goal in this series is to discuss some of these challenges that InFlow has addressed with PLM and some of the measurable success that our customers have achieved.
“Change, for lack of a better word, is good”
Excuse the cheap Gordon Gecko rip-off…but who else would you expect a sales guy to quote? Change in any organization can be viewed as a good thing. That is, unless you are the poor sap that has to deal with all of this change.
ECRs, or Engineering Change Requests, are the way that many companies request product and design changes within the product development group. ECRs are product development’s answer to the corporate suggestion box: They allow anyone from any department to recommend a product change in a formal manner.
ECRs are encouraged. Many companies believe that their people should have as much input into product line improvements as market research studies and customer demand.
One of InFlow’s customers encourages this type of input from its employees…they posted sheets outside of the VP of Engineering’s office that were filled out and dropped in his mailbox. This encouragement was not ignored…the VP processed an average of 15 ECRs per week. The unfortunate part of this story is the process by which these ECRs were…well, processed. The VP had to complete 50 manual steps before beginning the approval of an ECR. These tasks included attaching documentation to support the change, reviewing inventory levels in the ERP system, filling out his form that mirrored the employees’ request, and determining the approval route.
Recently, this InFlow customer implemented PDMWorks Enterprise, a Data Management solution developed by Solidworks Corporation. Working with the InFlow team, the customer formalized the ECR process, created submittal and approval forms inside the system, and has created an automated notification system that routes the forms to the proper approvers. This was completed in a little less than 3 weeks, and the results have been fantastic: All 50 manual steps have been eliminated from the ECR process. Furthermore, the submittal process happens online and is much easier for employees to access and complete. The result: The customer is completing 3 times as many ECRs. However, their backlog of active ECRs has decreased by over 50%. The company is generating more ECRs and processing them faster and more efficiently.
Gordon Gecko also said, “Lunch is for wimps.” Be that as it may, our VP of Engineering certainly now has more time to take a well deserved lunch. Enjoy.