I am CM2 certified! Now What?


Brandy Taylor, IpX Vice President of Services

I am CM2 certified! Now What?

When I originally took my CM2-C certification, I was intending to learn the tidbits that would help me tactically improve the insufficient change management process at the company I worked for. Even with a master’s in engineering from a reputable university, the real-life foundational concepts that CM2 preaches were not mentioned in any of my theoretical classes. This critical function of a business is not often taught in school curricula. Ultimately, many of us learn our lessons on how to manage product configurations and datasets throughout their lifecycle with our first job experience. Per usual, effective learning is through things gone wrong, so many organizations live in a constant “normal” state of corrective action, i.e. unplanned/reactionary work. But when firefighting is constant, how do you know what to fix and be confident that the solution is moving you in the right direction? Am I spending my time on the minutia, or am I working towards the quick wins and step changes that we desperately need?

I reminisce…

As I sat through 12 days of CM2 boot camp discussion in Washington D.C. back in 2018 with the oracle, Mr. Ray Wozny, I became quickly fulfilled and overwhelmed with a vision of a utopian state. However, where the current change process was optimistically 10% of where I wanted to be. I was sitting with an enormous number of potential options on what I could choose to implement. A plentiful amount of low hanging fruit dangled in front of me. Fortunately, I was empowered to accomplish some improvements within my span of control with permission to fix what I broke. But where does one start?

CM2-C Certification

At IpX, we train over hundreds of people every year on CM2 principles and these hungry individuals gain an immense understanding of what a more ideal state can look like: The Vision of True North. I wonder what they will do when they go back to their day jobs. Will they, overwhelmed and bogged down with the daily firefighting, never get to implement a few CM2 tidbits and see quantitative improvements? Or will they be fortunate enough to be empowered to go back to their day job and put this knowledge to practice? Sometimes we are fortunate on the services side of our business to be able to help alongside key individuals who are empowered to make measurable improvements. This is where we get to see the good stuff happen, but the others get lost back into the abyss of the day-to-day world. 

What is CM2, anyways?

One of the biggest tasks we have working at IpX is a clear, concise, and valid description of what CM2 is and why organizations should follow it. Initially, I was suspicious of what schtick this consultant group was trying to sell me. Once I achieved my certification, my biggest takeaway was this stuff isn’t a schtick nor rocket science, it consists of logical tried and true best practices. In my words, it simply makes good sense. This methodology follows good project management principles and is organized in a way that I can work digestible tidbits into the day-to-day ways of working and seamlessly not disrupt the day to day. In addition, these fit for purpose tidbits could be measured over time, i.e. ROI, waste reduction, quality improvement – BINGO!

CM2 can be so many things, it can be difficult for people to understand without some deeper exploration. In a nutshell, CM2 means processes first, tools follow. We must work on our ways of working before we go to automate our steps. Modern tools such as PLM are amazing, and the integrators are excellent at what they do. But -– their job is to automate your ways of working. Integrators can automate a good process as well as your cruddy processes.

Process First, Tools Follow

Nobody wants to get bad data faster. In order to get good outputs from our tools, we must improve our ways of working (our processes) to develop good data, data we can trust. Then, document those business best practices into formal procedures so that the knowledge and lessons learned by our experienced subject matter experts (SMEs) can be infused into less experienced team members. Tools are amazing and very helpful; however, robust, repeatable, and measurable processes are crucial.

Everyone wants to find the quick fix and often assumes the right tool will solve all our problems. It is rare that individuals want to roll up their sleeves and dive deep into the harder part, the ways of working, the industry standard best practices taught in CM2. CM2 is what I call the “softer side” of tools such as PLM. It is the secret sauce, the recipe for ensuring your tools provide you with the ROI that you were told you were going to get when you signed the contract.

First, you need to develop a robust digital thread through robust processes, then you can configure modern tools to automate and digitize, and only then you can begin to enable a roadmap for true continual improvement.

An automated workflow is great, but what are individuals doing at each of those steps? Is it consistent and repeatable? What work must be done to drive repeatable results? What criteria must be met in order to drive robust decisions? Who needs to be engaged at every step along the way to ensure the right SMEs are given the right information at the right time, so we don’t have rework, recycle, change on change? Do you just have an “engineering release process”? What are your standards for product structure? Do you have consistency in how you handle indirect materials?Bom image Do you have a common methodology for naming and numbering? Do you have sources of truth defined for all data? What if we treated our upstairs processes in the same way as our downstairs operational processes, with FTY, scrap, rework, lost time, money, and resources? What if your resources came in every day and worked on planned intentional work? What if you decided to stop encouraging firefighting and instead incentivized doing things right the first time instead? 

A tool doesn’t drive efficiency and effectiveness in your ways of working, your process and people do. Your tool can be configured to help guide and automate, but the step changes in efficiency and effectiveness that you are searching for come from robust processes including proper governance.

Measurable step changes can be accomplished through process definition alone. Furthermore, process definition is the first step of requirements gathering/definition for accurate quoting of a tool implementation/improvement project.

I am now certified, where do I start?

Now, to reach a utopian state we all dream of, we need to figure out how to take that first step. Analysis by paralysis is a true thing. The best advice I can give is to just get started.

1. Align with influential leaders or key stakeholders in your organization.
2. Define crisp problem statements. If the path is not clear, you haven’t yet broken your problem statement down sufficiently.
3. Focus on your 2-3 highest priority problem statements and accomplish those.
4. Focus on quick wins and ensure you celebrate and communicate the ROI benefits you bring to the business along the way.
5. Define and monitor KPIs/metrics to demonstrate continual benefit to the business.
6. Then reassess, rank, and prioritize.
7. Rinse and repeat.

Need help with a roadmap or with rolling up your sleeves and achieving quick wins?

IpX can help. 

Hear more about implementing CM2 in this mini-podcast from Brandy


Brandy Taylor is the VP of Services at IpX with over 20 years of experience in engineering and project management within the aerospace, civil, military and automotive industries. Brandy holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a CM2-Professional certification. Connect on LinkedIn


IpX logoIpX believes organizational sustainability, scalability and transformation are born from the continual evolution of people, processes, systems and data. Through our leading workforce development platform known as the IDEA Academy, our CM2 standard and certification courses, True North professional services, and digital solution advisement,we enable your organization to always evolve based on a functional blueprint for the ecosystem of tomorrow. Drive innovation, create a better customer experience, and enable your workforce as an organization built for change, speed, quality and resiliency. www.ipxhq.com

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