Without too much fanfare, Cadence has introduced a tool to help automate ECO creation: Cadence Encounter Conformal ECO Designer Improves Logic Designers' Productivity. At least I didn't see too much fanfare in the engineering press. However, it was mentioned in Cadence's recent earnings conference call:
... Cadence's Encounter Conformal ECO Designer, a unique and automated capability to address the extreme pressure customers face to deliver on schedule while still achieving targets for product cost and quality. ECO stands for Engineering Change Order and unfortunately for designers these are all too common.
If you've been in the industry a few years, you'll recall that Synopsys had introduced a tool, ECO Compiler, for the same purpose. It never seemed to gain much traction, and Synopsys eventually abandoned it. I never had the chance to use ECO Compiler and I don't know why it didn't succeed. I heard some mention that it's a hard problem to solve, and that the market may have been limited. It's the type of tool that when you need it, you really need it. But you don't need to buy dozens of licenses.
It will be interesting to see how Conformal ECO Designer does -- whether it's better technology, and whether Cadence is able to make the business equation work.