PLM, Multiple BOMs and Cross-Functional Teams

by Oleg on April 26, 2012 · 4 comments

The ability to develop virtual conversation accorss continents and timezones is one of the most exciting parts of my blogging hobby. Earlier last week, I had a very interesting discussion about multiple Bill of Materials. It started from the discussion about BOM management and PLM 360 with John Evans here. Furthermore, it ended in almost one-hour conversation with additional twitter conversation.

The conversation about multiple bill of materials and different ways to implement it drove me to get back to one of my favorite books – Engineering Documentation Control Handbook by Frank Watts. This book is a bible. It is “a must-read book” for every CM in manufacturing company, and every product manager involved into software development for PDM/PLM. Here is the link from Amazon.

Cross-Functional Teams

The organization of cross-functional teams is one of the most important things in a modern product-development process organization. Things can go very easy if you are sort of “garage level company”. Everybody speaks to everybody in this company and there is no problem in coordination and collaboration. However, as soon as a company is growing, it faces the problem of collaboration, communication and terminology. Things can go in a quite disconnected way when people from design and manufacturing are collaborating with manufacturing or production people. The following picture below (picture credit to EDC Handbook) presents the idea of cross-functional teams very nicely.

Multiple Bill of Materials

BOM plays a fundamental role to establish communication and collaboration between teams. I see Bill of Material as a universal media in cross-functional teams. Different people contribute to this Bill of Material with a diverse set of information. You can see a picture that can illustrate this process (picture credit to EDC Handbook). The ability of software involved into product development (PDM, PLM, ERP, SCM, etc.) is to provide this level of media to collaboration across the teams.

What becomes clear to me that notion of a single BOM, constantly shrinking and growing is the one I envision as the one of the most efficient ways to maintain Bill of Material in manufacturing organization. Few years ago, I had a chance to share the idea of a single BOM in my post – Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Material.

What is my conclusion? To manage Bill of Material is one of the most complicated tasks in product development. For the last 10 years, multiple ideas and strategies were introduced in the field of BOM management. Synchronization of multiple BOM views and representations is a painful and complicated task. If future PLM software will be able to eliminate the need of synchronization of BOM across multiple systems and teams, it will be a huge pain relief to product development. To think about cross-functional teams in that context is probably a good starting point. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PS. I will continue with my “single BOM investigation” in future posts. Stay tuned…

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