Why use ECO's?

  • An ECO system ensures that changes to design documents are made deliberately rather than casually.
  • An ECO system typically incorporates a review process by other members of technical staff. This helps catch mistakes prior to making the new specifications "public."
  • The process builds a Revision History which tracks design changes over the life of a product. This can be useful for technical, business or legal issues which may arise in the future.
  • Controlling and documenting changes to a product is usually necessary to comply with certifying and listing agency requirements (ISO-900x, FDA, FM, UL, TUV, CSA, etc.). Document Control that includes an ECO system generally satisfies this requirement.

What is an ECO (Engineering Change Order)?

The ECO is not the software. The ECO system is an agreement among people; a cooperative activity that provides a review process and traceability to changes in products' design and specifications.

Briefly, the ECO Process:

  1. A new ECO is created that states (in general terms) the reason for the changes and the scope of what the changes will affect. It also defines (in specific and detailed terms) the changes to be made to each item and what the dispositions of remaining old-revision items are to be. After being submitted, and a cognizant engineer confirms that everything is appropriately stated, the ECO is Issued.
  2. The (issued) ECO is distributed to all relevant departments in the organization. When all departments have signed off (have acknowledged being informed of the proposed changes) the ECO is marked Approved.
  3. The (approved) ECO is then sent to "Drafting" for drawing, document and database changes and/or the creation of new documents and drawings. Upon completing the changes, Drafting marks the ECO as Completed.
  4. The (completed) ECO is checked by an engineer who examines all documents in the scope of the ECO to confirm that the changes are accurate per the ECO instructions, and then marks the ECO as Checked.
  5. The (checked) ECO is Released, making all the changes effective and the new data available to all other users of the information.
ECO master data tab. This displays reasons for the ECO and how far along it is in the process.
The ECO controls enforce the sequence.

What about ECO Numbers?

To enforce sequential and chronological record-keeping of changes, ECOs are automatically numbered by the program.
Upon creating the first ECO, the program will prompt for a starting number. Subsequent ECOs will be numbered from the highest existing + 1.

An ECO can contain change instructions that span a variety of items. The items on any particular ECO may or may not be related, since the changes ordered may apply to more than one project or product.

Because of this, it is inappropriate for the ECO identifier to carry other information. There are plenty of places where it is desirable for an identifier to carry and convey additional information.  This is not one of them.

ECO Line Items

Each line item on an ECO carries information about that item:
Sequential line number assigned by the program as items are added to the ECO
The P/N of the item being revised or newly created
ECO Action dialog describes each item's purpose for inclusion.
What is happening to the item
Technically accurate description of what is to happen to the item specification
The Disposition dropdowns show what is to be done with old items upon release of the new revision of item.
What to do with left-over old-revision items in various physical areas
May be entered by department signoff users
Existing Revision code for the item
Next Revision code for the item
Existing Status code of the item
Next Status code for the item
The accumulation of ECO line items for a particular P/N builds a Revision History of that item.
A screencapture of a "Zoomed" Instructions field.
Screen showing simple instructions for what is to happen to an item "on ECO."

ECO Configuration Options

Scope of ECO control:
  • Enforce ECO control only for items whose Status = Released, or Status=Obsolete
  • Disable ECO control in this data file.
Parent Revision:
  • It is conventional, when revising an item, to advance the Revision code for entities that the item is used on. If your own ECO protocol is to do this, then the program can be set to automatically add those assembly P/Ns to the ECO.
  • Similarly, Parent P/Ns and MadeFrom items can be set to be automatically added to an ECO when their dependent items are added.
Old Revision Archive:
  • Parts&Vendors can be set to archive old revisions of items upon releasing an ECO. These archives are in the form of PDF (portable document format) files, readable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. (The Adobe Acrobat Reader is free from Adobe. A link to the Adobe download is on the Links page.)

ECO Setup Utility

ECO features can be installed into a new, empty data file or into an existing P&V data file.
The setup utility is a wizard-style dialog that directs you through the sequential process of identifying the file to modify, plus selecting what features are to be installed. 


Once you determine what Departments in your organization are to be included in the signoff protocol, they can be set with this utility.
Drag and drop user names onto their signoff Department.
ECO Departments tab. Create/Delete departments and assign users to each Department.

You will find more details about the ECO Edition, plus more screen images, in the program Help file. Download the DEMO and take a look.


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