Changes on the Horizon: Is Resistance Futile?


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For printed circuit engineers, especially those of us who have been in the industry for some time now, change is inevitable. From customer requirements that lead to design changes and deadlines being pulled in, to decreasing budgets and resource reallocations, change is one area where we must be adaptable if we want to survive and be successful in today’s industry. 

Engineering change orders (ECOs), schematic/drawing redlines, component placement adjustments, and mechanical features modifications are among the changes that most of us usually deal with at one point or another during a project’s design cycle.

In my experience working for both small engineering firms and large OEMs, change typically translates into more time, which translates into more money. The big questions: Is the change billable or not? Who pays for this, or eats the cost of this change?

It all depends on how a contract was written, and how the purchase order (PO) was awarded. Potential changes are risk factors that are added into each quote, with a caveat that each change will be evaluated. This evaluation leads to a potential “out of scope” response to this change, adding an additional cost to the already agreed-upon PO, extension to the project schedule, or reset to the original project task duration. Every company handles purchase orders differently.

As I mentioned, change is inevitable in PCB design, and designers have become accustomed to it. But what about those other changes that may come at some point in our careers? Perhaps you’ve experienced a change in EDA tools, or a change in company culture, or both.

If so, you may have a special understanding of the famous motto of “The Collective” in Star Trek: Generations. “Resistance is futile.”

I feel your pain. Usually, this sort of change happens if you switch jobs, your company is acquired by another company, or your department is reorganized. It happens, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it probably will, if you remain in the industry long enough.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the February 2022 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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