07 Jun
Demystifying Engineering Change Control in the Medical Devices

Change is an inevitable part of the medical device manufacturing industry. In order to stay compliant with regulations, improve product quality, and respond to market demands, companies must effectively manage change control and engineering change order processes. This blog aims to provide insights into change control, engineering change control, and the role of Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) in the change management process. Additionally, we will explore the challenges faced by companies in managing these changes and the importance of simplifying the process using Lean documents and lean configuration.

Understanding Change Control

Change control is a systematic approach to managing changes in a controlled and efficient manner. It encompasses identifying, documenting, evaluating, approving, and implementing changes to products, processes, or documents. Change control ensures that changes are properly assessed for their impact, risks, and benefits, and that they are implemented in a controlled and traceable manner.

Keys to Effective Change Control Management in Medical Device Manufacturing

Managing change control effectively is crucial for medical device manufacturers. Here are some key principles to consider:

  • Clearly defined change control procedures and policies.
  • Cross-functional collaboration and involvement of all stakeholders.
  • Robust change impact assessment and risk analysis.
  • Documented change control forms and templates.
  • Timely and efficient review and approval processes.
  • Thorough documentation and traceability of changes.
  • Regular monitoring and review of change control processes for continuous improvement.

The Relationship Between Change Control and Engineering Change Control

Engineering change control is a subset of change control that specifically focuses on changes related to product design, development, and manufacturing processes. It is a structured approach to managing changes in engineering documentation, product specifications, drawings, and other technical aspects. Engineering change control ensures that any changes made to the product or process are properly evaluated, approved, and implemented while maintaining compliance and product quality.

Engineering Change Order (ECO) and Its Role in the Change Management Process

An Engineering Change Order (ECO) is a formal document used to describe and initiate a proposed change in a medical device or its manufacturing process. The ECO serves as a communication tool, notifying stakeholders about the proposed change and seeking their approval. It includes detailed information about the affected parts, assemblies, documentation, and processes. The ECO goes through a review and approval process involving relevant stakeholders before the change is authorized and implemented.

Challenges in Managing Change Control and Engineering Change Order

Many companies struggle to effectively manage change control and engineering change orders due to various challenges:

  • Lack of visibility into change impact and affected documents.
  • Lengthy approval cycles and delays in decision-making.
  • Inefficient document control and change management systems.
  • Manual and error-prone processes leading to inconsistency and mistakes.
  • Difficulty in maintaining traceability and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Triggering Events for Engineering Change Order (ECO)

Discover the diverse range of events that can activate an Engineering Change Order (ECO) in the dynamic landscape of medical device manufacturing. These events primarily fall into three key categories, driving the need for change control:

Product Changes: As a medical device manufacturer, adapting your device is inevitable. During the design and development phase, it often becomes evident that modifications to components or materials are necessary. Moreover, existing products may require updates or improvements, prompted by CAPA investigations or other factors. When product revisions are essential, they serve as triggers for initiating an ECO.

Regulatory Changes: The regulations and standards governing product design, development, and manufacturing are subject to periodic changes throughout the product lifecycle. Keeping pace with evolving regulatory requirements is crucial. If new or updated regulations demand alterations to your product or processes, an ECO is required to ensure compliance and maintain quality standards.

Document Changes: Controlled documents play a vital role in ensuring regulatory compliance and adherence to industry best practices. Modifications and revisions to essential documents, such as templates, forms, or work instructions, can also trigger an ECO at any stage of the product lifecycle. These changes guarantee that all job functions involved in the processes fulfill their duties accurately.

Steps in the Engineering Change Order (ECO) Process

The systematic and structured ECO process consists of seven essential steps, enabling all relevant stakeholders to review and approve proposed changes effectively:

Identification and Scope: Begin by identifying the issue necessitating the change. Accurately understanding the problem's scope and its potential impact is crucial in this initial step.

Engineering Change Request (ECR): The Engineering Change Request is a crucial document that outlines the proposed change and its justification. It helps assess the risks, benefits, and technical feasibility associated with the change. Generating and reviewing the ECR before creating the ECO facilitates a comprehensive understanding of the change.

ECR Review: Bring the ECR to the relevant stakeholders for review. This step involves their evaluation and decision-making regarding the approval of the proposed change.

ECO Creation: If the change receives approval, proceed with creating the Engineering Change Order (ECO). The ECO provides a comprehensive list of the parts, assemblies, documentation, and processes that will undergo modification. It includes all the essential information required to make informed decisions regarding the change.

ECO Review: This phase entails a formal review by stakeholders of the proposed ECO. If the change impacts multiple aspects of a product or process, it may require the sign-off of numerous stakeholders. Authorization for the change is granted only after all stakeholders have reviewed and approved the ECO.

Notification: In this critical step, all individuals affected by the change must be promptly notified. Effective communication ensures everyone is aware of the change and enables its correct implementation.

Implementation: After a rigorous process, the final step is the implementation of the change. The ECR and ECO documents serve as valuable guides, ensuring that the proposed change is successfully executed by the appropriate personnel.

Simplifying Change Control Using Lean Documents and Lean Configuration

To overcome the challenges in change control and engineering change orders, adopting a Lean approach can be highly beneficial. Lean documents and lean configuration focus on eliminating waste, improving efficiency, and streamlining processes. Key strategies include:

  1. Implementing a purpose-built solution, such as the Medical Device Success Platform (MDSP), for efficient change management.
  2. Utilizing digital tools to enhance visibility into change impact and document control.
  3. Establishing standardized templates and forms to simplify the change control process.
  4. Streamlining review and approval processes through automation and data-driven decision-making.
  5. Implementing closed-loop traceability of all quality system data and activities.
  6. Ensuring training and awareness of Lean principles among employees involved in change control


In the ever-evolving world of medical device manufacturing, mastering effective change control and engineering change order management is no longer a choice - it's a game-changer. With the right systematic and Lean approach, companies have the power to revolutionize their processes, achieve remarkable efficiency, maintain compliance, and elevate product quality to new heights.

The secret to success lies in embracing the digital revolution. By harnessing the potential of cutting-edge tools and technologies, medical device manufacturers can unleash the true power of change control. Real-time visibility, seamless workflows, and data-driven decision-making become the norm, driving the industry forward.

But that's not all—lean documents and lean configuration take change control to another level. By adopting these principles, companies can rid themselves of unnecessary complexities and unlock a streamlined process. No longer bound by red tape, they can swiftly adapt to new requirements and stay one step ahead in a rapidly changing landscape.

Simplifying change control is not just a choice; it's a necessity.