Exploring differences between average and critical engineering changes: Survey results from Denmark

Publication: Research - peer-reviewArticle in proceedings – Annual report year: 2012

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Change or modification has always been a fundamental part of engineering design. Changes to a
design are the rule and not the exception [Clark & Fujimoto 1991]. Engineering changes (ECs), as
Jarratt et al. [2005] describe, are alterations made to parts, drawings or software that have already been
released during the design process. Over the past decades, engineering change management has gained
prominence in engineering design and product development literature, with a number of in-depth case
studies (e.g. [Clarkson et al. 2004; Fricke et al. 2000; Giffin et al. 2009; Jarratt et al. 2010; Lindemann
& Reichwald 1998; Loch & Terwiesch 1999; Vianello & Ahmed-Kristensen 2011]), industry surveys
(e.g. [Deubzer et al. 2005; Huang & Mak 1999; Huang et al. 2003]), and reviews (e.g. [Ahmad et al.
2011; Jarratt et al. 2010; Wright 1997]).
Researchers describe and analyse a number of aspects of changes, such as characterisations of
changes, causes, initiators, objectives, effects, and potential strategies, and software support to
anticipate and handle changes. Studying characterisations of changes, some investigate late
engineering changes (e.g. [Coughlan 1992]), others describe strategies to detect avoidable and to cope
with unavoidable changes [Fricke et al. 2000], yet others characterise initiated design changes and the
associated emergent modifications according to their development over time and potential effects on
implementation within the allotted amount of time forming ripple, blossom, or avalanche patterns
[Eckert et al. 2004].
Whilst differing in terms of focus and research design what all studies have in common is
differentiating between engineering changes for better understanding of patterns of change, ultimately
better to manage engineering changes. In this paper, we aim to continue this line of investigation and
- examine differences between average and critical changes according to results from a survey
with industry participants, and thereby
- explore as to what makes changes critical.
In this paper, we focus our description on results from an industry survey. With this in mind, the
remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 describes in brief what motivated criticality
of engineering changes as the research focus of this paper and outlines the data acquisition and
analysis procedure. We present results of this study in Section 3. Section 4 summarises contributions
and concludes with suggestions for further work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign 2012
PublisherDesign Society
Publication date2012
StatePublished - 2012
Event12th International design conference - Dubrovnik, Croatia


Conference12th International design conference
LocationHotel Croatia
Internet address


  • Engineering change management, Change management, Engineering change, Design change, Change cause, Change effect
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