Thoughts about BOM ownership

Thoughts about BOM ownership


The publication about PLM taking ownership of MBOM ignited a few discussions online about the Bill of Materials, BOM Management, and the co-existence of multiple enterprise systems. My first thought was that all of them will have to rethink the way BOM is synchronized between systems. This is not a new problem. Any implementation of enterprise PLM is facing this challenge. Pumping BOM between PLM, ERP and other systems is costly and complex. But the reality – this is the only practical way to do so.

I went back to my old writing to find some recommendations on how to make it easier. My old blog post from five years ago, speaks about Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Materials. To me, all recommendations are still very relevant. Following them can make your “BOM synchronization” problem less painful. Almost at the same time, Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity also shared his thoughts about single BOM: Single Bill of Material – Holy Grail or Pipe Dream? I liked Jim’s thoughts about Single BOM vs. Associated BOM. Here is a passage I 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.

At the same time, single BOM or Associated BOM is hard. It requires many points of synchronization between departments and processes. Therefore, I still keep my opinion that most companies today are still Not Ready for a Single Bill of Materials.

So, what to do? How to make an improvement? Do you think fighting for MBOM as mentioned in the article is the only way? I tried to visualize the picture of different BOMs and present it with how PLM and ERP ownership is distributed. Take a look at the picture below.


There are places where each system claims its benefits. At the same time, there are places where ownership of bills of materials and related product information can be different. The touch point is manufacturing BOM. I still believe this is the next cool thing in PLM – how to manage MBOM.

What is my conclusion? I think both ERP and PLM vendors need to take a step back. Data ownership was a fundamental part of any enterprise business strategy for the last 20 years. Maybe, this is a time to change the data ownership approach. Maybe it is time to think about better data synchronization and transparency. How can we help people to collaborate alongside the product development process from design to management and to support and services? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: mrxstitch via photopin cc

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a global digital thread platform providing PDM, PLM, and ERP capabilities and new experience to manage product data and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networksMy opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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