Single Bill of Materials in 6 Steps

January 16, 2013

Last week I started the discussion about about modern BOM challenges. That discussion made me think more about the idea of unified and consistent Bill of Materials that can be shared across the company (single BOM). In my view, this is a clear paradigm shift from what we know today as "multiple BOMs". How to move from well-known multiple BOM paradigm to single BOM? If you are PLM manager, IT or implementation service company, you need to be prepared for the discussion that will involve all organizational stakeholders. In the post, I’m trying to identify steps in this discussion. I identified 6 steps – structure, part numbers, extensions, end items, ECO and BOM sharing with some comments.

1. Structure: Phantoms, Modularization, Planning Bills

The "beauty" of multiple BOM strategy is in segmentation. In your silo, you decide how to organize Bill of Material. Historically it gave a lot of advantages. By trying to combine it together, you can face discussions about how to create BOM compartment to fill a particular process and/or organization needs.

2. Part Numbering

One of the fundamental conversation about BOM is related to Part Numbers. In the past, discussion about part numbering schema raised lots of controversy. Many companies historically tied to using so-called intelligent part numbers. Be prepared to switch towards something more easy and straightforward. The process of Part Number assignment is also very important.

3. Specific extensions to the BOM

Each company has their own little secrets about what to add/exclude items to BOM. In most of the companies, this is a place that will be very hard to transform. The discussion about adding "nuts and bolts" as well as some other specific materials to BOMs can be endless. Be prepared.

4. End items

Large amount of end items can make your BOM strategy very cumbersome. The sales and business people need to take a part in this discussion. In most of the cases, you can delete end items and switch to the strategy to use options for the same purpose.

5. How to deal with ECO?

The question of dealing with engineering changes is critical. You need to have an ability to make a change easy without restructuring of BOMs (or, at least, with a very small effort). The ability to find a way to present ECO process will be critical. Another critical process to clear is new product introduction.

6. BOM sharing

The effort to create a single BOM experience is useless if you cannot share BOM holistically in an organization. If people are not accessing the same model, the same data at the same time it will destroy the idea of a single BOM.

What is the conclusion? Depends on the nature of your business, one of these topics can become a key and showstopper for your organization to transform into the single BOM. Some of you will disagree of structures and some you will not have a system to share BOM across the organization. The multi-BOM paradigm evolved during many years as a result of fundamental organization silos. However, these days, the efficiency how organization can resolve the problem of connected cross department processes is a dominant one. BOM is a lifeblood in these cross-department processes. If you switch to a single BOM, you have an opportunity to optimize processes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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