23 Replies Latest reply on Jun 2, 2016 12:03 PM by Tim Webb

    EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?

    Lawrence Kiefer

      We have been using EPDM for a good 2+ years now. We have planned since the beginning to utilize the digital approval process, where the file would be submitted for approval, email notifications would go out to the people that review and sign documents, then they could open up the drawing, review and then approve or reject the drawing.


      So, what I am faced with now, is people are saying that it is too hard to review or check drawings on their computer screen so they want full size printouts of all drawings. From there they are saying since we need the full size printouts, they might as well just sign them instead of going back to the computer to approve them through EPDM. In addition to this, the cost per license comes into play as we would need to purchase more licenses for all of the people that check and approve documents and these people would only utilize it for this purpose.


      This is what I a faced with, being close to throwing in the towel on the whole digital approvals. First I would like to hear what others are doing. Are most epdm users utilizing the digital approval process? Is it in fact a wast of time, money and resources? All companies are different, however It would still be helpful to hear what the rest of the world does. What are the pros and cons of using digital approvals...

        • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
          Tera Hansen

          We've just finished implementing ours and haven't really had a chance to find the bugs yet.  But this is what we do.


          Short hand version - after a change is made, the engineer changes the status to pending approval, this sends out an e-mail to the various departments.  With in this e-mail is a link to the network folder containing PDF's of the drawings in question.  (We also have a task set up that automatically creates these PDF's and saves them in this folder.)  The approver looks at the PDF of the drawing and a PDF of the ECO (avoiding EPDM all together).  Then going back to the notification e-mail we have 3 links that will send out e-mails, one for approved, one for denied, and one for pending approval (in case of inventory issues or something).  Its somewhere in the middle between fully automated and paper.  I could go over more details with you if you wanted.

            • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
              Lawrence Kiefer



              Thanks for the information. I have my workflow set up almost exactly the same as yours. Engineer submits drawings for approval, EPDM then sends out notification emails with links to the drawing files etc...



              1. how did you get your EPDM notification email to point the link to the folder outside of EPDM that contains the PDF versions? This is a great idea since it would not require a license to view the PDF files.
              2. Once they review the PDF of the drawing, do they then have to log into EPDM to digitally approve the file?
              3. Has there been any negative feedback regarding print checking on the computer screen as opposed to having the full size drawing printed out? (This is one of the biggest things I am faces with here, they feel that its a pain to check drawings on the screen).
                • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                  Tera Hansen

                  1. I'm not entirely sure how it works, but our marketing guru considers html code his second language so he was able to edit the e-mail template to include it.  I'm assuming it's just a standard line of code linking the folder outside of EPDM.  I've attached the pdf that talks about how to edit the e-mail template.


                  2.  For approvals, once I have received e-mails from everyone saying they approve the changes, I go back into EPDM and change the status to approved.  This doesn't necessarily use up a license because I'm already in EPDM 90% of the day anyways.


                  3.  As far as viewing the prints on the computer, I haven't heard anyone complain thus far.  But if they did have a problem with viewing them on the computer, they can just print them off themselves.  The time savings of doing it electronically, vs. having to print everything off and walk around the drawings/ECO is dumb.  And honestly if it were me, I'd go to a higher level than those complaining with your proposal showing them exactly what it takes to handle paper ECO's, and how much time you could save doing things electronically.  Nothing convinces upper management faster than telling them you could save them money by making this easy change.

                    • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                      Lawrence Kiefer



                      Your feedback is very much appreciated. I thought you may have altered the email template code. I am familiar with this so if we implement digital approvals I will follow suite.


                      If I am understanding you correctly, then the people at your company that approve drawings view your PDF, then simply email you saying its approved and then you go into EPDM to move it to an approved state. Is this correct?


                      Because this is an Aerospace company that is heavily regulated by quality, I don't have that as an option. The people here that approve documents absolutely have to be the ones that either sign them the old fashioned way, or click the approve button n EPDM.

                        • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                          Tera Hansen

                          Yes that is how it works.  We have links within the notification e-mail itself that will pull up a new e-mail message so all the approver has to do is click send.  It's been a while since I've worked for a company with stricter quality policies, but for our ISO standards, this e-mail approval is accepted.


                          This is the notification e-mail everyone gets.


                          This is the e-mail that opens when clicking on the changes approved link.  Denied is similar but says, "I am denying the changes for ECO.... for the following reasons:"


                  • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                    Jim Stone

                    We've been using EPDM for seven or eight years. We don't manage ECOs through EPDM, just the drawings and related files. Not sure if you're doing ECO's or just SW files?


                    When an engineer/designer is done with a drawing, they send it via workflow to another engineer/designer for a technical check. They can reject it or send it forward (but can't check out and edit it). If they approve it, it comes to Doc Control for a standards/clerical check. If it's a production drawing, it's also held there until the authorizing ECO is approved, then we release it. A PDF is generated, which gets ported over to our ERP system and attached to the material master.


                    Once we got things set up, we've had virtually no problems with it. I do agree that sometimes paper is better but I've never gotten any feedback that people can't check drawings electronically. In a separate process, our ECOs go out electronically, too. Sometimes, it's just a cultural issue, or what people are used to.

                    • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                      Jim Sculley

                      It sounds like your checkers/approvers are trying to push as much of the work on to someone else as possible:


                      • If they can't check a drawing on their screen, rather than print it themselves they expect someone else to print it for them up front.
                      • They would like to hand sign a printed copy which would then have to be copied (or scanned) by someone else back into digital form for archival purposes.
                      • If going 'back to the computer' to digitally approve the drawing is such a hassle, they probably also want someone else to come pick up the drawings from them after they have been signed.  Walking them to another desk can't be more efficient than swiveling around in the desk chair from the stack of drawings to the keyboard.


                      Change bad.  Me no like change.


                      On the licensing side, if you aren't using a PSL, you might want to consider it.  You can install EPDM on 1000 machines but only the number specified by the PSL can be logged in.  We have 35 users and a 25 seat PSL.  The number of people logged in has never hit the maximum.


                      I have the framework in place here for digital approvals but have not pulled the trigger because our QA manual requires hand signatures at the moment.  The plan is to allow digital approvals in the next revision of the QA manual. 


                      There are some people here who really prefer the old red ink on paper approach to drawing markups.  One idea I've been thinking about (but haven't implemented yet) is to allow marked up copies (E-Drawing files or scanned from hardcopy) to be pasted as references by checkers/approvers to a drawing submitted for approval.  The mark ups would go along with the drawing file if/when it is rejected so that the originator can make the necessary changes per the markups.  When resubmitted, the mark ups could be compared to the new submittal and if everything looks good, the drawing is approved and attached mark up files could be removed and deleted or archived.


                      Having suffered writer's cramp after having to hand sign 150 drawings for the second time because of a small typographical error, I would encourage you to fight the good fight by trying to come up with ways to improve the process for all users, not just the squeaky wheels.


                      Jim S.

                        • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                          Lawrence Kiefer



                          Thank you, your post made me laugh.....Here, the "change is bad" comment is absolutely correct.


                          "Why change the way we do it, we've been doing it this way for 60 years"

                          Where I usually reply, yes and 60 years ago your wife had to hand clean your clothes by the river with a washboard....does she still do that or do you both share the laundry task using your brand new Maytag washer and dryer, that results in cleaner clothes faster???

                          • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                            Jeff Hamilton

                            We went away from red-ink hand markups and went to a pdf markup. It's at least a step in the right direction. We use Bluebeam instead of Adobe for the markups. It's very user friendly and cheaper.

                            As far as I know we'll still allow them as part of the approval package, but I would like to minimize it as much as possible. Make it the exception rather than the rule.

                          • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                            Jason Capriotti

                            How big are their monitors and how many do they have? Everyone here has at least two, usually both 24".....maybe some 22".


                            We have been doing electronic ECOs in ePDM for a couple of years now. Drawings (PDFs) are marked in for ECOs in ePDM with a PDF editing tool. The ECO and related documents are submitted, emails go out, people review them, its gets processed then released. There may be some that print them out but that's on them to do. They still have to approve in PDM. This is supported by engineering management so they don't have much choice. Some complained at first, we made improvements, now we don't hear much.

                            • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                              Lee CS Young

                              I'd look at getting a large touch screen monitor with a stylus. The savings in ink toner would pay for it. You'd probably get past the "I don't like change guys" with the "cool factor".


                              Just a thought.

                              • Re: EPDM Digital approvals: How are others handeling this?
                                Chris B.

                                Good question Lawrence.  Another one, if I can add to this post - what drives the approvers to actually approve a drawing, when done electronically through EPDM notifications?  Currently their motivation is to get the paper drawings I've left them off of their desk.  But if it's just an email, it could be easily be ignored, deleted or forgotten.  And if there are multiple people who are able to approve a drawing, they all might think someone else will do it. 


                                Does anybody have any thoughts or experience around this?