Today’s manufacturing landscape is filled with competitive challenges. Executives are under more pressure than ever to reduce costs, hit development milestones on time, and deliver high-quality products. Engineering transformation (EX) initiatives can aid these outcomes and improve competitiveness, but organizations must be prepared to manage the competing dynamics EX introduces.
EX Delivers Improvement and Risks Disruption
EX is a subset of digital transformation (DX) initiatives designed to improve product design and engineering. Very often, it does exactly that. Lifecycle Insights’ research has repeatedly shown that, when it comes to making meaningful improvements in those areas, EX is well worth the effort. EX initiatives can help organizations increase revenues, shorten design cycles, and reduce costs across the product lifecycle.
But the path to these outcomes is often filled with disruption. EX commonly involves the adoption of new technologies, process and methodology changes, and reconfigured organizational roles and responsibilities. Unsurprisingly, introducing such significant, widespread changes creates the potential for problems. Missed deadlines can pile up. Engineer workloads can become unsustainable. Product quality can suffer. These issues, however, can be minimized or altogether eliminated when companies invest in and align around changes to their technologies, people, and processes. This approach allows them to minimize disruption without sacrificing their engineering improvement goals.
This post explores the competing dynamics of EX and provides guidance on maximizing the value of EX by avoiding disruptive outcomes.
Improvement Without Disruption Is Possible
It would be reasonable to assume that the success of a company’s EX efforts depends in large part on the types of initiatives they pursue or the level to which their executives support the transformation process. But according to Lifecycle Insights’ 2023 Engineering Transformation Study, EX tends to help companies achieve engineering improvement goals irrespective of those factors. Study respondents were asked to rate the degree to which their company had achieved its engineering improvement goals, and the average rating was 8.1 on a 10-point scale. This level of achievement was consistent across respondent groups no matter how they were sorted.
But while respondents achieved their engineering improvement goals at similar rates, some companies were able to do so while enduring much lower rates of disruption. On average, this group of top performers rated disruption from EX initiatives at 3.2 on a 10-point scale. However, other respondents reported an average disruption level of 8.1 out of 10. In other words, these respondents usually experienced significant improvements from their EX efforts, but also typically experienced much higher degrees of disruption than their top-performing peers.
These figures indicate that some companies have found successful approaches for managing the competing dynamics of EX. The question is, what did these companies do differently than their highly disrupted peers?
Synergistic Alignment Is Key to Realizing Value From EX
The organizational changes inherent to EX don’t happen in a vacuum. New technologies come with learning curves and will likely conflict with existing processes. Changes to processes will naturally expose gaps in the responsibilities assigned to certain roles. If an organization fails to account for these ripple effects, they are far more likely to suffer high levels of disruption.
But when organizations align these changes to account for their impact on other areas of operation, they benefit from the synergy their EX initiatives create. Through this synergistic alignment, companies support technological changes by adjusting internal processes and methodologies. Employee roles and responsibilities are tailored to account for these technological and process changes. Then every stakeholder understands where their focus should be and how their performance contributes to improving product design and engineering. By investing in these kinds of technological, process, and organizational changes, companies create synergy that amplifies the overall impact of individual adjustments. This pushes them toward their goals while minimizing disruption.
Ultimately, the synergistic alignment of changes in support of EX initiatives is the single greatest differentiating factor between companies that derive value from EX and those that encounter as much disruption as they do improvement.
As executives strive to keep pace in the ever-evolving, increasingly competitive world of manufacturing, pursuing EX may seem like a no-brainer. After all, improving product quality, lowering costs, and driving higher revenues are all crucial to companies’ continued growth and success. But the path to those improvements is beset on all sides by the threat of engineering disruption. If companies fail to make process and organizational changes in alignment with the new technologies they implement, they can endure costly delays, create unsustainable workloads, and hinder product quality.
But when companies pursue synergistic changes, they can more effectively address the competing dynamics inherent in EX initiatives. These companies can therefore reach their engineering improvement goals while minimizing or even eliminating disruption. As a result, they gain crucial advantages that make them more competitive in the marketplace and pave the way for future gains.
To learn more about EX and what it could mean for your organization, check out Lifecycle Insights’ report, Engineering Transformation: Realizing Value, Avoiding Disruption.