I have worked with several client regarding the principles of change management. What I found was, all in different forms follow CMII principles however the DYNAMICS in which change is implemented into the product and the management process differ. They all operate the specific objects to record change, and also the ‘back-office’ organizations, such as the Change Control Board and some operate also a dedicated Change Introduction Board.

What do I mean with this ‘dynamics’. The change dynamics is the business rational how change introduction ripples through into the product and specifically aspects surrounding product sustainment i.e. sustainment being the process to maintain a product and secure save operation from an engineering perspective. There is a name for it emerging: Sustainment Lifecycle Management.

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Working with a company in the past we discussed how PLM could support the capture of knowledge. We did a brief analysis and realized that in the specific company situation it basically was to do with the with the lack of complete product definition. Although operating a ‘PDM’ system for some years it still lacked a holistic approach i.e. explicit knowledge stored at an all accessible place. The core of our recommendation was to address the issue of completeness and to also apply CMII principles about baselining.

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Many high tech products these days cannot work without software that controls specific (user) functions of the product. Take your car; engine functions that were traditionally mechanically controlled have now been replaced by devices and capabilities that are managed by software. Also when you travel to your vacation destination by air the very plane you are flying in is loaded with software to control for example the avionics or the (glass) cockpit instrument panel. Recently I was asked to consult for a client that had configuration management issues regarding software installed in their product. They had challenges to manage the appropriate version of the software in relation to the hardware configuration and also assuring that certification results were correctly captured. A further challenge was the collaboration with partners that actually does the software development and the maintenance. Our recommendation consisted of the following set of improvement initiatives and functions.

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So basically the schedule is the structure of events that need to take place.. you could call it a work breakdown structure (WBS). So for different product categories there are different ‘project’ schedules and WBS’s. In principle you would have schedules for new product development and its introduction, change schedules initiated by ‘change introduction boards’ as well as ‘product sustainment’ schedules.

What they all have in common are these ‘organic’ processes, for argument sake let’s call these verification and release processes and surprise….; these are the processes that are usually regulated per industry or defined as best practices for example your internal procedures as defined by regulators or derived from ISO standards or better CMII.

In highly regulated environments you may see these implemented even as ‘V-models’. The WBS, going down on the V,  determines the full design process by the different disciplines i.e. the product system breakdown from low to high fidelity. Going up the V the verification and the release processes.

As stated earlier there will be different WBS’s for different purposes. Probably defining the first set of WBS’s are a challenge but the reward will be huge. As it becomes a standard approach for doing specific things, it would then form the basis to gradually apply Kaizen and the 5S’s campaign you would apply to Gemba i.e. the (work) place where it all happens. As companies get smarter defining and optimizing these processes the cost and schedule outcome would also be better predicable and it would provide an opportunity to ‘front load’ such WBS structures with all product related system engineering templates and required documents. Lastly these WBS’s would also form the basis of your project management with or without your management approaches such as earned value management.