Single BOM (Bill of Materials) journey

Single BOM (Bill of Materials) journey


Single BOM is such of these topics that usually drives lot of debates. You can catch up on my very earlier article about “Single BOM” topic – Seven rules towards single Bill of Materials and Single BOM in six steps. I’ve learned a lot from manufacturing companies about how they use BOM and one of my early conclusions was that companies are not ready for single BOM. However, the demand for better organization of Bill of Materials is high. Earlier this year I shared some ideas about how to develop single BOM framework. Check here for my presentation about BOM at PI Congress in Munich.

Lionel Grealou wrote a very interesting post –  Single Enterprise BOM: Utopia vs Dystopia. It speaks about the complexity to have single BOM in the organization. Here is my favorite passage:

In the manufacturing sector, BOMs are characterised by complex data structures, pre-defined technical systems that are customised and integrated across PLM, ERP, CRM, MES and others systems. Aligning and sharing associative information across functional and technical silos is mother of all challenges while designing and managing BOM data.

I like the conclusion Lionel made in his article – single BOM is not about  part numbering rules, workflows, processes, data simplification, visibility to all, etc. It is about complete data representation. And that’s why it is hard for organization. To agree single data representation is one of these “mission impossible” tasks nobody wants to take on. Because who wants to ask people in different organizations to agree and trust each other. A traditional model of “multi-view” BOM looks like the one I pictured below.


One of the ideas I shared in my PI Congress presentation is a framework that can gradually take the organization from siloed approach to a single BOM. There are three steps in my Single BOM maturity model: 1/ Share: access and edit the same Bill of Materials; 2/ Reference: connect multiple elements of product information (BOMs); 3/ Query: retrieve on-demand BOM information from diverse systems and data sources.


What is my conclusion? Organizational data is usually messy and it applies to bill of materials and related information. You cannot organize the data in a single step. It is a multi-staged process. Therefore, single BOM is a not a product that can be automatically applied. It is a journey. Single BOM is a set of products and technologies that can help to rationalize the date and help people to follow the process or sharing BOM across the organization and eliminating massive data synchronization. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks.

picture credit MCADCafe article


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