5 Key Considerations When Selecting the Right BOM Management Software

Written by: Carlos Melgarejo

Read Time: 4 min

What Is BOM Management?

The core of product information is contained in the BOM, which is used to define the product and the parts needed to build it. Yet companies increasingly need to manage more than they used to in the BOM. They need to manage a complete product definition - all the relevant information across a broad spectrum of disciplines - including everything related to the electronic, mechanical, and software aspects of a product. In most cases, all this information is managed in disparate, disconnected systems across enterprise teams, resulting in data silos.

It is key for manufacturers to break down these silos and manage product data in one single up-to-date system.  That’s where BOM management comes in. BOM management is the managing of all data associated to a product throughout its entire lifecycle. Effective BOM management is crucial to your manufacturing organization’s success, whether your product consists of a hundred parts or a hundred thousand parts. The solution you choose to help manage your BOM needs to enable complete, out-of-the-box product parts management that delivers full digital associativity across diverse enterprise teams.

Why Is BOM Management Important?

The right BOM management solution serves as the single source of truth for your digital product definition. It enables manufacturers to capture, configure, and manage product data across enterprise teams (i.e., engineering, manufacturing, quality, service & the supply chain).  By reducing complexity in data, processes, and systems, BOM management enables organizations to release high-quality, innovative products to the market faster and more efficiently.

A robust cutting-edge BOM management solution enables an organization to collaborate around a product’s BOM, fostering alignment between product development and strategic enterprise objectives. Optimizing the use of the BOM in a way that enables a manufacturer to achieve a complete digital product definition is critical to eliminate errors throughout the product lifecycle. 

5 Key Benefits of Having a BOM Management Solution

There are many ways a manufacturer can benefit from having an effective BOM management solution. For the purposes of this blog, we are exploring these five:

1. Deliver product data early in the process

There are several stakeholders involved with getting a product to market. For instance, the product development process starts in engineering for most manufacturers. And until the designs/drawings are reviewed and released, the manufacturing and supplier teams are forced to wait. This situation creates issues because manufacturing, quality, and regulatory teams can’t progress their tasks until the approved drawing is made available. 

One of the features a complete BOM management solution should offer is simple lifecycle or maturity management access control. With a digital product definition, manufacturers can simply “promote” information to a state suitable for collaboration. As a result, stakeholders can access up-to-date information that is traceable and accurate.

2. Manage diverse BOM structures

Manufacturers can sometimes create BOMs using different sources (i.e. multi-CAD tools, Excel, home grown tools). The BOMs can be structured based on the type of products and sales strategy used to bring the product to market (i.e assemble to stock, assemble to order, and engineer to order). The manufacturer can create BOM variants based on a diverse range of customer needs. All these factors generate different BOM structures that need to be supported and managed.

Effective BOM management should enable a modular, configurable approach that allows a BOMs structure to be tied to logic driven from requirements so the manufacturer can deliver configurable products that can scale to meet a broad range of market & customer needs. This modular design can be leveraged for downstream needs, delivering a common definition for manufacturing planning, service, and supply chain. This reduces the number of late loopbacks, the number of design churns, and the lead time in problem identification. The modular platform and logic is no longer hidden in many spreadsheets. It is managed and available across the enterprise and can be shared with downstream systems such as CPQ or ERP.

3. Comprehensively manage BOM configurations

During the product development process, multiple variations occur. Working with disconnected systems won’t allow you to get a clear picture of the data and adequately understand the needs of all process participants nor distinguish interdependencies. 

An effective BOM management solution provides visibility into how the product matures and it shows what digital product information is available to engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and others. Your team can get detailed product information and collect all relevant data. One key feature is enabling comparison between products structures including differences in parts, BOM, CAD, documents, and the ability to view them in 3D.

4. See products, parts, and data visually

When sharing across the enterprise, having visuals of the product and its parts is key. Stakeholders who are not intimately involved in the product’s design work need to have better visibility and engagement through visuals. Visualization helps with part recognition and makes it possible to use digital models throughout product development, optimizing downstream processes and deliverables. 

For product visualization to deliver the most value across the enterprise, the data represented must be accurate and complete. These visuals can be a game changer for a manufacturer. A comprehensive BOM management solution would let you see product configurations in 3D, perform interference checking, color coded search, visual comparison, and more.

5. Increase part reuse and reduce costs

New parts can be expensive. Reuse should be a priority in helping reduce costs and increase efficiency. Part reuse can help minimize inventory complexity, improve supply chain utilization, and lessen difficulty in aftermarket serviceability. 

Effective BOM management provides the support your organization needs to solve the challenge of part reuse in two ways: 

  • Classification – Extra data is added to the part’s description to make it easy to break parts down by category. These categories could include hardware, electrical, sourced components, and more. Accessing this type of information allows users to easily find existing parts that meet their design needs, which stops the need to create new parts
  • Supplier management – Tracking vendors, manufacturers, and the parts each offer is key. Optimizing product reuse means the enterprise needs to understand which parts can be sourced from which suppliers as a product is being defined. To better understand the product definition, the BOM can show the relationship between the part and the supplier(s).

Explore more ways your organization can benefit from having a BOM management solution by reading this BOM-centric approach white paper.

In closing, taking steps toward realizing a digital product definition can bring immediate benefits. With your BOM at the foundation of the digital thread, you are equipped to support global cross-discipline collaboration, enable concurrent manufacturing in engineering and the factory, and achieve closed-loop quality.


Establish a BOM-Centric Approach

Learn all 10 ways to organize your data and become a digital leader READ THE WHITEPAPER
Tags: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Windchill

About the Author

Carlos Melgarejo Carlos is a Sr. Content Marketing Specialist for PTC’s PLM technology. He comes from a broadcast journalism background where he developed a love for writing and visual storytelling. He is also passionate about developing creative content and communications, having received a Master’s degree in Marketing. He enjoys the outdoors, the beach, exercising, riding his motorcycle and car restoration.