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PLM Essentials - 6. Engineering Change Management (ECM)



Engineering Change Management (ECM) is critical to successful programme outcomes and the mitigation of development risks. The sixth instalment of our 'PLM Essentials' series covers the motivation behind ECM, the activity and objectives involved and what goes into the creation of a robust system to track changes and approvals.

You may also be interested in the areas we have covered previously: Part 1 – Part Numbering SystemsPart 2 – AttributesPart 3 – Part NomenclaturePart 4 - BoM Setup and Part 5 – Engineering Structures.


What is Engineering Change Management? 

Engineering programmes in advanced industries are often incredibly complex. With so many different stakeholders and competing objectives, tracking and approving any and all design changes is essential. Engineering Change Management (ECM) is a process used to manage changes to physical parts, systems and associated documents. It is used to support the business case for a design change, providing insight to all stakeholders and informing their decisions on whether or not a change should be implemented.

Once a design change is understood, agreed, documented and released, then the ECM process is complete and the Change Control process handles the workstreams and change implementation. ECM encompasses:

Configuration Management

Change Control

Change Register

Software Change Management


Developing the right ECM

The type of ECM required by an organisation varies greatly between industries, projects and programmes, but each is a trade-off between speed, workload and quality. The overall cost of the ECM must be well understood, including the resource draw on all relevant business areas. The more regulated the industry (e.g. aerospace), the more stringent the processes and approvals will be.

It is important to recognise that a well-functioning ECM will involve all areas of the business, including:







Research & development





Engineering Change Management in action

The overview below explains the purpose and processes of ECM, highlighting risks and important factors in successful implementation. This has been demonstrated using a customer case study – a small but notable electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. 

Read on to learn about Engineering Change Management and its vital role within PLM, reducing the risk of design conflict and the successful delivery of commercial outcomes.

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