This week, I was in Bruxelles conducting a Engineering Express training for ENOVIA SmarTeam resellers. The feedback I got from the participants during the training made me again more aware from the culture change needed or dreamed about in the small and medium manufacturing enterprises.

As I wrote before in PLM and ERP – the culture change , there is for sure a conservative vision in the small and medium enterprises to stay with their major IT systems they invested in, usually ERP and (3D) CAD.

From the bigger enterprises and reading all the analyst reports, many of us project that the small and medium enterprises also need PLM in the same way as the bigger enterprises, but then in a more packaged, ready to use manner, instead of a custom implementation guided by PLM experts like the bigger enterprises did.

So ENOVIA SmarTeam Engineering Express is a prepackaged solution bringing PLM closer to the mid-market. However during the training many of the questions were not around the capabilities of the Engineering Express, but more about why do we(customers) need to use the same approach as bigger enterprises, why do we have the same needs?

Where big companies focus on defining and implementing processes in order to have a predictable outcome, I noticed in talking with SMB companies, they are proud of explaining they exist without these processes enforced, but work in a more flexible, human task oriented manner.

If we look to a classical ECR/ECO process, we see in bigger companies there are several steps to be identified to react on a outside request (the ECR) and to implement it (ECO).

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An Engineering Change Request (ECR) process

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An Engineering Change Order (ECO) process

In smaller companies the ECR process is already embedded in one singe ECO process. Sometimes a formal (email) based activity takes place before a change is requested and implemented. One of the participants in the course – a manufacturing company – mentioned that they had the notice of a CCB in their company but all engineering change requests were sent to the CCB by email and as the CCB was meeting on a weekly base, this was the process to filter engineering change requests.

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So here is the question: Big enterprises need processes to remain manageable – like a big tanker needs a predefined methodology to navigate through a harbor. Small and medium enterprises are more relying on their flexibility and they need a reliable and sustainable way to react – like a small ship in a harbor – as it can react quickly there is no need for the anticipation, still the capability to change direction is needed.

So are small and medium enterprises that behave like small ships in the harbor ?

If yes, they need to remain open for change as going straight ahead at the end will lead to a collision – and the challenge remains to make the (culture) change.

Or if no, how can you provide small and medium enterprises with means that enforce change without creating the overhead that compromises the flexibility ?

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I am looking forward to comments and thought on this question – please post them.

However my first priority tonight is to survive in Milan where the match Italy-France will decide who continues to the next round in the European Soccer Championship. Worst case in parallel the Netherlands looses from Romania, in that case both Italy and France are gone and this might be my last post:)

Hoping to write my next post at the end of this week.  ciao – adieu

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