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

Stefan Langer, Anja Maier, J. Wilberg, T.J. Münch, U. Lindemann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

19 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


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 publicationDS 70
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of DESIGN 2012, the 12th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2012
Event12th International DESIGN Conference DESIGN2012 - Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 21 May 201224 May 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of DESIGN Conference
PublisherThe Design Society
ISSN (Print)1847-9073


Conference12th International DESIGN Conference DESIGN2012


  • engineering change management
  • change management
  • engineering change
  • design change
  • change cause
  • change effect


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