2.1 THE CHANGE PROCESS
In most companies, the change process starts with the submission of a proposal to a change-control board (Phillips, 1987), sometimes called an engineering-control board. This board is usually composed of representatives from all major divisions within a company, including marketing, manufacturing, product engineering, and reliability engineering. Any division within the company can propose a change to the board.
Upon receipt of the change request, the board first classifies the change as either major or minor. This classification involves deciding whether the form, fit, or function of the part, as defined by company policies, would be affected by the change. The scope of parts affected, severity of the change, risks involved, and any applicable contractual agreements are also considered. After classification, the board then assesses the associated risks and benefits. Part characterization and reliability stress-testing results are reviewed. If the board determines that the benefits outweigh the risks, the change is approved. However, a change is generally approved only when a convincing business reason for the change exists. If the change is a major change, a notification is sent out to customers. For minor changes, the change is usually implemented without customer notification. For customers that manufacture safety-critical systems, notification for any type of change may be required.