BOM 101: Preliminary Product Structures and Part Numbers

BOM 101: Preliminary Product Structures and Part Numbers

I want to continue my BOM 101 thoughts and speak about working with Bill of Materials during early stages of product development. Engineers are using multiple sources of information to create an initial Bill of Materials. The initial BOM structure can come from CAD system, other BOMs developed earlier and also created from scratch. One of the important steps during this process is to assign Part Numbers as early as possible.

Part Numbers (PN) and development lifecycle process

Initial PN allocation plays a key role in overall product development process. From the moment we assign Part Numbers, the status of product development can be tracked by the Item Lifecycle mechanism. Newly created PN are obviously getting “development” status. However, measurement of time lapsed since PN assignment until Item actually entered into BOM and later until specification document becomes available will allow you to follow process of development on the very early stage.

Par Number and PLM/ERP integration

Part Number assignment requires some degree of system integration. The easiest way to get things done is to manage PN in your PLM systems. However, a reality is different. Very often, item master is managed by ERP system or another data management system. It can be also home grown database that historically keeps record of Item masters and allocate Part numbers. So, to integrate these systems will be extremely important to manage Items lifecycle in the company.

What is my conclusion? It is very important to have item lifecycle started at the very early stage of product development. Unfortunately, very often companies are postponing this step because of the integration complexity. PLM/ERP integration project is starting on the late phase of PDM/PLM implementation. Internal company politics are adding an additional level of complexity  to this decision. It takes weeks or even monts to decide where to manage Item Masters. A significant portion of product cost is defined during early stage of the development. To have early BOM/PN visibility can optimize the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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