How to successfully manage product change

 

The current situation has created a lot of disruptions in the global supply chain network. With a reduction of more than 30% of the global supply chain activity, chances are you will have to find alternatives for your products and integrate them quickly. That is why we put together this guide on how to successfully manage product change.

 

Find alternatives

 

It goes without saying: in order to find the best option for your product, you need to have candidates. If that step is arguably the hardest one, there is still a couple of options available to you.

The first one is to check with your current suppliers. They know your needs, so they often can help source alternatives that can be relevant for you. They also already went through your compliance checks, which helps limit compliance risks associated with the onboarding of new suppliers.

Another option is to look for alternatives online or in manufacturing catalogs, by comparing the different specifications with the engineering requirements to find alternative components which might be suitable for the application. However, this approach can be time-consuming and prone to error as each specification needs to be checked and compared individually. This may work for changing a single component in a small assembly but for a Bill of Materials with hundreds of changes, these manual checks can add up quickly.

Finally, you could use dedicated tools to help you like Octopart, Mouser or Makersite. With the advances of AI and Big Data, these tools can combine thousands of databases to automatically find relevant options for your product,  helping to save time and provide more accurate results. Alternatives are automatically suggested by comparing key performance requirements, cost and compliance considerations to find other components to meet your needs. Some systems even include supplier finder applications to locate alternative suppliers for key products, components or materials in your supply chain.

 

This creates a digital twin of your product and ensures that your team is working with a single version of the truth they can trust to collaborate on solutions.

Find alternatives to replace discontinued or unavailable components

Check your options against your requirements

After gathering suitable alternatives, the next thing to figure out is whether or not the candidates match your requirements. From the design and engineering aspect to the compliance aspects, it is crucial to rely on a thorough due diligence process.

If most companies still rely on manual process to investigate their suppliers, they are time-consuming and often fail to go past Tier 2. In order to avoid unfortunate replacements, you can use tools to automatically check product and suppliers options against multiple criteria, including localization, cost, compliance, and sustainability.

Make more informed decisions: Makersite helps you find relevant suppliers and allows you to compare different components, materials, or processes from a cost, compliance or sustainability perspective

Communicate the change across the organization

It can be hard to maintain effective communication throughout the value chain, especially during product changes. With cross-functional teams working on different products across different portfolios and increased remote working, it becomes even more challenging.

However, it is crucial to keep everyone updated to avoid issues across the supply chain such as missing drawings or outdated specifications which could lead to problems down the line in testing, production, or even with the end customer. Product Data Management tools are especially valuable here since they allow your teams to stay on the same page and collaborate more effectively. Downstream, supplier collaboration tools can help you accelerate due diligence processes and mitigate compliance risks beyond Tier 2.

Access integrated team collaboration tools to help your team stay connected even when working remotely on Makersite

 

Keep on improving

 

Even during this crisis, product changes can be the opportunity to improve your product. Whether you decide to go local for your supply chain, to switch to more sustainable processes or to pick a more efficient alternative for your packaging, there are plenty of ways you could change the way your products impact your business and the environment.

 
If you would like to go further, you can sign up for these simple tutorials that we hope could be helpful for anyone struggling to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on their supply chain.

And, if you would like to know how Makersite can help you and your teams to find out how to successfully manage product changes, you can contact us here.