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The importance of Bill of Material in product development and manufacturing hardly can be undervalued. BOM is a cornerstone of almost all processes and activities – from early requirement and design and to manufacturing, services and support. Therefore, efficient BOM management is an absolutely important element of product development processes. PLM vendors are coming with different solutions to manage BOMs. Together with vendors’ solutions, manufacturing companies are developing practices (and sometimes a complete solutions) how to manage Bill of Materials.

I’ve been discussing the idea of “single BOM” for the last few years as a possible way to simplify BOM management. My earlier post – Severn Rules towards Single BOM is almost five years back (2009) raised very interesting debates. All of them are still relevant in my view. I wanted to highlight one very insightful post by Jim Brown here. Jim speaks about different aspects and advantages of single BOM management. As part of this conversation Jim introduced a concept he called – associated BOMs. Here is the passage I specially liked:

Companies have spent a lot of time and effort making logical connections between different BOMs, and developing tools to help develop and synchronize different BOMs. For example, PLM, MPM, and Digital Manufacturing software helps companies translate an engineering BOM into a manufacturing BOM and then further into a BOP. In fact, they have gone further upstream to match conceptual BOMs and requirement structures downstream to BOMs. Maybe you would call these “workarounds” to the real answer of a single BOM. But I would propose a different view based on history and my observations. Perhaps engineers have done what we do best – addressed the problem in the most practical way as opposed to the most elegant way to solve a problem.

I think, Jim’s post is absolutely relevant today. After few years of discussions on this topic, one of my hypothesizes is that companies are not ready for single BOM solution… yet. At the same time, I do believe companies can take realistic steps into single BOM management already today. The variety of ways companies are managing bill of materials can surprise even people with lot of experience in manufacturing and PLM. After many years, I’m always surprised to find “yet another way” to manage bills, configurations and associated manufacturing and production information.

My attention was caught by Teamcenter PLM blog few weeks ago – Bill of Materials concept.  Author, posted a very good summary about different types of BOMs. Together with eBOM, mBOM, sBOM and few others, it outlines the idea of Master BOM as a centerpiece of BOM Management capable to provide “single source of truth” about BOM. The following passage explains the idea:

To overcome this challenge, the concept of Master BOM has come.  Master Bill of Material can be defined as single source of BOM having all aspect of information for various configuration and discipline. Hence Master BOM by definition is single source of truth for all BOM. Industry is still struggling to find the exact solution in term of defining and managing Master BOM. Also it become more complex due to the facts that different BOM types are managed in different systems. PLM vendors including Siemens PLM has come various solution and tools, but still required to show the success and maturity of managing Master BOM as a single source of truth across various BOM lifecycle and discipline.

This post and exchange of comments made me think about potential two challenges in BOM management – technology and process. The way and technology to support and implement the idea of “master BOM” is quite complicated as well as PLM implementation attempts to integrated product data under the umbrella of “single point of truth”. At the same time, the idea of “master” or “single” BOM management faces multiple political challenges including discussions about internal and external company processes. In my view, modern data management technologies (especially coming from web and open source) can introduce some advantages in BOM management. It can be related to scalability of data management solutions as well as improved collaboration features. Would it be enough to overcome process challenges? This is a good question to ask these days.

What is my conclusion? After decades of development in PDM, PLM and ERP, companies are still struggling with BOM management. The topic is quite complicated and introduce many technological and process challenges for companies. Future pressure around competition, customization and cost can bring BOM management challenges back. It will be interesting to see what (technology or processes) improvement will allow to unblock future of BOM management? No specific conclusion. Just thoughts today…

Best, Oleg



Let me start today from asking you a question. How do you run your company? Regardless on size, scale and nature, the answer is simple in my view – processes and projects. It won’t surprise you if I say sometimes projects go out of schedule, and processes are stuck. Every company requires a solution to manage processes and projects these days. Do you think you can solve these problems by emails and spreadsheets? The project or process management solution are needed. I was reading Steve Bedder post – Is that a bottleneck in my process? Steve brings an example of how process and project management capabilities are integrated in PLM 360 – new cloud PLM product from Autodesk. Here is an interesting passage:

The Project Management app provides you with a live view of where all the individual tasks\items within the project are up to, as they are moved along their process by the people managing that part of the project, the top level project automatically updates accordingly. You can also quickly and easily link through to view any of the data that is being tracked and managed within each of the project tasks (assuming you have the permissions to do so).

The key aspect in this functionality to me is the ability to integrate process and project tasks with relevant “data”. FPLM project management integration tradeoffs. There are many independent process and project tools that can be used in the company. How important to have integrated project and processes tools?

Frankly, Autodesk PLM 360 is not a unique tool introduces integrated project and processes with PDM/PLM. Almost all major PLM providers have “project management” module – TeamCenter Project Portfolio Management, Enovia Program Central, Windchill Project link, Aras Program Management.

At the same time, I can see many innovative and independent tools primarily focusing on project, process and task management – starting from traditional well known Microsoft Project and going to cloud-based Basecamp, Zoho, Clarizen and many others. While project management is not a new discipline, I can see many companies are trying to come with interesting user experience, available on many devices working in a different way. One of my favorites for the last time was claiming so-called “social project management”

What is my conclusion? Integrated vs. best in class. The dilemma isn’t new. I have an integrated GPS in my car. At the same I found myself many times using my iPhone to find a place and then enter the address into GPS system. To get right information to drive project management tool is an important function. At the same time, interaction with people usability and experience will matter as well. The car with Google’s maps in dash is probably a right solution. Integrated best-in-class class solutions – sounds like a good idea :) . Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


1 comment

From PDM to PLM: Unify or Integrate?

by Oleg on October 31, 2011 · 14 comments

Earlier, this year, I post a blog called – Integrated PDM and PLM: Wrong Question? In the beginning, this blog post was inspired by Jonathan Scott’s presentation on SolidWorks World 2011. Aras EPLM announcement last week, made me think a bit more about PDM / PLM trends. The idea of integrating PDM with PLM isn’t new and already had a chance to discuss it before. In some of my previous blogs, I discussed that PDM overall maturity was growing for the last 10 years as well as facts that confirming CAD /PDM software vendors will be searching how to boost their future activities based on existing PDM products. Navigate to the following blog – CAD, PDM and PLM diversity, CAD Data and PLM, Autodesk Vault: Enterprise PDM or PLM? A growing amount of conversations around PDM vs. PLM topics made me think about to possible trends in a future PDM to PLM conversation:

Unify PDM and PLM

This is a path that was taken by large CAD/PLM vendors. You can hear “unification talks” from all mindshare PLM companies – TeamCenter, Enovia V6,Windchill. The arguments used by these vendors are quite simple – let’s reduce the amount of systems, unify and centralize information and “life will be good”. These messages are certainly convincing. In the following video, you can listen to how TeamCenter chief – Steve Baschada is talking about PDM to PLM transition.

Keep PDM and Integrate PLM

This is an opposite approach. For many companies, PDM is a successful project. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Autodesk Vault, SolidEdge /TeamCenter Velocity. These are examples of successful PDM systems with proven records of deployments. What if we can take PDM “as is” and integrate PLM products on top of them. Aras presented a case with Aras EPLM. I believe Agile PLM, SAP PLM and some other vendors can think about such an approach. I can see “cloud products” can be proposed on top of existing “on premise” offerings. I remember, Arena Solution tried in the past to have such a type of “integrated offering”.

What is my conclusion? I think, these two trends are going to compete in a very near future. Unification as an old school of PLM will be mostly in a defense mode. Their expansion is limited by a significant cost of transition from existing (PDM) systems to unified new platforms. An alternative can be interesting, in my view. Aras is a first example. More to come. The opportunity here is to keep TCO lower. However, the danger of complex integration between PDM and PLM can make this “trick-or-treating” dangerous. Will Aras and followers are going to get more Halloween candies? I don’t know. Just my thougths… Next time I’m going to talk about PDM to PLM integration challenges.

Best, Oleg



PDM in 2010s: Commodity or Competitive Advantage?

September 5, 2011

Product Data Management is not a new term. The first appearance of PDM software goes back in early 1990s (I believe veterans of the industry will come with some even earlier examples). Nevertheless, 20+ years should be enough to put all dots on “i” in PDM applications, systems, etc. I was thinking almost the same. […]

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PLM and New Openness

July 21, 2011

The topic of openness in PLM software isn’t new. In the past decade, I’ve been hearing lots of good and bad things about PLM and openness. Last year, I shared my thoughts with regards to PLM and openness in my post - Closed Thoughts About PLM Openness. Few days ago, I had a chance to read […]

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PLM and SharePoint Scalability

March 14, 2011

Since Microsoft first released MOSS 2007, I can see an increased amount of manufacturing companies are investigating a potential move to SharePoint. Microsoft used brilliant freemium strategy and decided to give away a basic version of SharePoint (WSS – Windows SharePoint Services) bundled to Windows Server license. It created a significant flow of SharePoint viral […]

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PLM Platforms and PLM Automotive Future

March 7, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I posted PLM Platform Wars: Who is Right or Who is Left? The following short article in Dasssault 3D Perspective struck me to think more about the future PLM technologies and innovation. Watch the video and make your opinion. Kate is asking: “Can the automotive industry build cars of the […]

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CAD, PLM and Pragmatic Cloud: Do Less

December 15, 2010

The conversations about future CAD and PLM solutions is not a new thing these days. I decided to re-read some of my previous writing about cloud and find it interesting in today’s context: Where is PLM shortcut to the cloud? You can read one more blog post – Putting your design on the cloud. Earlier […]

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iPad: PLM and non-PLM User Experience

July 16, 2010

I think, we are going to see more iPad applications in coming year. Will PLM and other enterprise software vendors adopt new Apple tablet? This is a very good question. On the surface, I can see multiple trials to introduce various iPad applications. Below you can see few examples of iPad application from PLM (Siemens PLM), […]

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