The Ugly Truth of Multi-BOM Management

The Ugly Truth of Multi-BOM Management


Bill of Material (BOM) management is always fascinating topic. It sparks so many debates and introduce a large set of diverse opinions. I can even say that I have a special passion to speak about BOM on my blog. If you want to catch up on my recent posts about BOM, you can try these few links – Will PLM manage enterprise BOM? and Will SaaS and Open API solve BOM management problems? My special passion is “single BOM”. I started this conversation few years ago. Here is my last writeup about single BOM- Single BOM in 6 steps.

Few days ago, my attention was caught by PLM dojo article about pros and cons is Multiple BOM management – Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) use Multiple BOMs. I highly recommend you to have a read the article including comments (the number is growing). It brings an interesting set of strategies relasted to BOM management. From my side, I can clearly see advantages of both approaches. And I can generally say it depends on many factors – industry, product, organization, processes and… (what is not less important) people. Here is my favorite passage:

Sometimes it makes sense for the CAD user to organize the design differently than how ERP organizes the data. For example, it might make sense to group a large assembly model into sub-assemblies that don’t represent any actual part, but make it easier to divide up work on the overall structure. A related reason is that having the part BOM separate from the CAD BOM isolates the part BOM from the inevitable messiness of the CAD files.

While there is nothing wrong in division and separation of CAD design and Part structures, I still believe there is a trick here. Thinking about that, took me back to the post I wrote few years ago – The Ugly Truth About PLM-ERP Monkey Volleyball  The controlling of data is one of the fundamental enterprise software behavior and strategy. One of the “negative” aspects of single BOM strategies is the need (and complexity) to share responsibilities and control over the shared “single BOM”. It can create lots of organizational constraints, especially if departments and/or divisions are using multiple systems.

At the same time, Single BOM containing multiple dimensions of product information can become a place to share data among organization and optimize processes. However, in order to make it happen organization will have to agree how to manage “shared space”, and shared responsibilities. People management becomes a critical function to make it successful.

What is my conclusion? Technology is easy part, but people are really hard.  This is one of my favorite quotes. The ugly truth of BOM management is the fact it requires people management and agreement across organization. Multiple BOM can be done using separation and data island controlling. Very often you can hear about technological challenges of single BOM organization. Much rare situation is when organization is moving to people and organizational constraints. People’s ego and organizational issues are often playing a key role in decision to go with one of BOM management strategies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Nikolai Nyrkov

    Oleg, thank you for the interesting post, I agree that the main issue is the organization issue.

    BTW. As for me, technically, according my humble experience, I recommend to use multiple BOMs (the best solution is providing the different views / filters on BOM). Single BOM (single view on BOM) is a compromise which generates contradictions (excluding very simple products and small companies).

    From the organizational side, why don’t we use the “Pull” methodology, eg. for this simple “reverse” chain:
    Fulfillment of Sales Orders <– Material Requirements Planning (MRP) <– Providing Manufacturing BOM and MBOM changes <– Providing Engineering BOM and BOM changes.
    Let's ask “Who in my company is responsible for the each step and for the right initial data for the each step?”. And next just demand the right initial data from "those guys". Would it be a solution? Why not?

  • beyondplm

    Nikolai, thanks for your insight and ideas! I don’t single BOM as a compromise. Actually, opposite, I see “single BOM” as a comprehensive structure representing multiple dimensions of product information (BOM). Does it make sense? Oleg

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  • Nikolai Nyrkov

    Yes, I agree, thank you again.

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