Reducing change cycle time in an increasingly mobile world
The introduction of product lifecycle management tools and methods has brought with it drastic improvements in product cycle time through a unified product record and controlled change management. However, an increasingly mobile workforce presents fresh challenges to PLM systems like Agile, and the industry’s innovators have capitalized on these new opportunities to tighten up change cycle time. Mobile applications like PLMXL Approve can bridge these gaps in productivity, and form the primary focus of this article.
Innovation, by its very nature, is driven by change. Companies that thrive on continual innovation in their product development require the ability to structure products, capture knowledge, perform managed change control, and ultimately be able to react optimally to changes in products or needs. Managed change control encourages creative collaboration throughout the product lifecycle, while avoiding unbridled chaos.
It is difficult to overstress the centrality of managing change in the enterprise. Change orders processed through the change control board are of critical importance in an innovation-driven organization, and must therefore produce quick, high-quality decisions to yield maximum effectiveness. In practice, however, waiting for approval cycles from engineering, quality control and management often result in significant lag.
Before PLM solutions became a mainstay in the enterprise, paper-based engineering change implementation or fragmented automated systems suffered from conflicting sources of information. The nature of the change, responses of the change control board, and current status of the proposed changes were related to an inconsistent product record, leaving them susceptible to miscommunication, inefficiency, and error.
PLM solutions such as Agile have made tremendous improvements in the way change management is processed in the enterprise. Confusion caused by multiple versions of change specifications have been replaced with a single source of truth for the product, mapped to the proposed changes that reflect the various revisions of the product record. All involved personnel are automatically notified of any alterations or modifications in the proposed change or its status. Approval processes and workflows are clearly communicated, and everyone is kept in the loop using a RACI-type model.
While Agile PLM and similar product lifecycle solutions have launched the modern enterprise into an entirely new echelon of efficiency, additional opportunities for reducing time-to-market must be availed to maintain a competitive advantage. The change approval process in particular is an area that can yield further improvement.
Members of change control boards are highly mobile individuals. Executives, engineers, quality personnel, change analysts, and other members of an organization spend a considerable amount of time away from their offices — at manufacturing sites, suppliers, partners, or simply in transit. Their level of mobility or preferred work strategies might not permit much time at a workstation.
The increasing ubiquity of mobile technologies and the proliferation of mobile Internet access can allow knowledge workers to remain productive anywhere, unfettered from traditional computers. Now people respond to critical emails, collaborate, and take action from their mobile devices, and the growing popularity of always-online tablets has accelerated this trend even further. The ability to respond to engineering changes using a handheld device would multiply the value and expand the advantages that PLM systems offer.
PLMXL Approve allows you to do just that. With the PLMXL Approve app installed on your Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, or Android handheld, you can securely respond to Agile PLM change orders of any type on the go. It allows users to view change details, including affected items, redline BOMs, manufacturer BOMs, and document attachments. You can search for items, inspect details, and view attachments from your pocket device or tablet. It’s not just a convenience; a cumulative reduction in response time to changes shortens the change cycle, significantly reduces delays and costs, and improves time-to-market.
PLM solutions are now critical drivers of productivity for organizations that thrive on product innovation. It has become increasingly valuable to seek out additional ways of improving PLM process efficiency in an effort to gain a competitive edge. By giving mobile access to change requests and associated data while away from the office, it has become possible to shorten the cumulative cycle times further, leading to cost benefits, reduction in approval errors and shorter product cycle time.