Today’s Product Innovators Need Intelligent BOM Management

The 5 Key Factors to Drive Intelligent BOM Management

Selecting the right solution will enable you to improve your new product introduction process to drive down costs, improve reliability, and improve profit margins. It will also help you scale as demand increases and your company expands. Here are the five key functional areas to consider when creating a more intelligent way to manage your BOMs.

Quick Assessment Does your existing system or set of solutions cover these key requirements?

  • Aggregate electrical, mechanical, software, files, and documentation into a single system and complete BOM
  • Create, change, and track revisions before and after production release
  • Collaborate with partners for design, component sourcing, field services, and/or manufacturing
  • Connect BOM to streamline engineering change, project management, quality, and other product processes
  • Give visibility to product process trends and metrics to make more informed business decisions
  • Integrate with upstream and downstream systems (CAD, ERP, CRM)

1. Centralize Control of the BOM, Product Record, and Change Processes

Because design and manufacturing teams use many different systems unique to their job roles, it’s important to have an agnostic approach to aggregate the entire product record into a single system for simplified collaboration. Having a centralized BOM provides better control while streamlining connections between product information and people to accelerate development processes. And cloud solutions make it easy to access information, no matter where your teams are located.

Centralized control involves more than having a single system to store product information. It creates the necessary backbone for effective product development by helping connect all related product and process information. It helps with change processes (e.g., change requests, change orders, deviations) by linking key product record information. And it eliminates confusion by ensuring teams have a single place to create and change all aspects of the product design. Consider the following requirements when evaluating your needs:


  • Aggregate BOM and product record (e.g., electrical/mechanical/software design, drawings, specifications)
  • Enable easy import/integration from design systems and manufacturing systems
  • Automate review and release for change processes including ECRs, ECOs, and deviations


  • Eliminates multiple systems and duplicate data entry Improves accuracy and reduces errors
  • Ensures every aspect of the product is controlled and documented, in context, to each revision
  • Simplifies and speeds time to resolution when manufacturing mistakes or quality issues arise


  • Review how many systems are used to create, change, and manage product/BOMs
  • Determine if all design teams have early, easy, and continual access to related product designs
  • Understand if speed trumps adequate controls and quality in the race to get products released

2. Provide Secure Access and Accountability for Internal and External Teams

It seems like common sense, but you may be surprised to discover some solution providers have yet to create simple, secure ways to access and share product information between internal and external teams. Many providers continue to rely on outdated methods of collaboration that will not scale with highly dispersed teams. As such, some vendors claim to be “supply chain enabled,” but evaluating their offerings in detail reveals a limited and risky approach to sharing product information with large, complex supply chains.

When evaluating how systems provide access and accountability, determine if the vendor offers only a “one-size-fits-all” license for different types of users. Or, do they provide “right-sized” licensing for internal and external team members based on their unique roles and responsibilities?

Does the solution provide a secure method for external partners to access only the specific components of the BOM they need to source or build? And finally, does the solution provide an audit trail of key actions to eliminate “finger-pointing” and increase accountability between internal and external teams?


  • Provide secure access and user authentication
  • Enable access to BOMs/product based on appropriate licensing and user roles
  • Ensure protection and accountability


  • Requires all users to have specific logins that provide right level of access
  • Ensures IP is not shared unnecessarily and is protected based on user responsibilities/roles
  • Provides accountability for actions via historical tracking of key actions


  • Ask vendors if they have tailored and appropriately priced licensing for different users
  • Determine whether subsets of product information and BOMs can be shared with one or more partners to avoid giving unnecessary access to IP
  • Review the solution’s ability to track key actions and make all teams accountable to perform

3. Deliver Comprehensive BOM Management Capabilities

Intelligent BOM management systems should provide comprehensive capabilities to create, import, change, share, compare, and approve BOMs throughout the entire product lifecycle. Before selecting a BOM management system, you should gather and evaluate the requirements of all your teams to ensure cross-functional collaboration can be achieved. Be careful not to evaluate BOM solutions against only one team’s needs in managing design. It is important that electrical, mechanical, and software design teams have an agnostic approach to aggregate and share their related designs in a single system easily.


Managing Key BOM Descriptors/Attributes

  • Component item numbers, names, categories, lifecycle phases, quantities, reference designators, and other user-definable attributes (e.g., BOM notes)
  • Key component attributes inherited automatically from part/item records
  • Cross-reference links to drawings, documents, specifications, files, and other records
  • Part and assembly thumbnails showing a snapshot of attached files
  • Designation of alternate or substitute parts

Multiple Views of BOMs (Function Specific)

  • Flattened BOM (consolidated view of a multilevel BOM with a single roll-up of each item)
  • Indented BOMs (display unlimited multilevel explosions or views)
  • Sourcing BOMs
  • Costed BOMs with roll-ups
  • Compliance information for BOMs (e.g., RoHS, REACH, WEEE, conflict minerals)

BOM Reports, Search, and Comparisons

  • Easy-to-compare redlines highlighting what changed between revisions
  • Where-used searches or links to traverse up the product structure and show all using assemblies
  • History to determine what changed

Accelerated BOM Change Process

  • Flexibility to subject to revision control OR not (for pre-production releases)
  • Bulk replacement of parts used across multiple assemblies
  • Intelligent verification for reference designators confirming quantities match
  • Capability to package up entire BOM and all associated content in a build package for partners

Accurately Pass Information and Connect Systems

  • Use import/export tools for BOMs
  • Leverage automated integration options for CAD, CRM, and ERP
  • Provide single sign-on (SSO)


  • Speeds the time to introduce new products
  • Eliminates unnecessary errors and costly quality issues
  • Enhances ability of teams to research BOM history
  • Provides insights and visibility (e.g., costing, compliance, sourcing)


  • Ask to review key functionality in product demos for creating, changing (redlining), and releasing BOMs
  • Determine if the BOM functionality is intuitive so that teams will adopt
  • Review options for importing, exporting, integrating, and connecting to other systems to share information with design and manufacturing systems and external partners
  • Ask for references from customers at companies with similar design and manufacturing systems

4. Improve Collaboration With Formal and Informal Communication

Most vendors provide formal, revision-controlled options to collaborate around the product record. However, there are times when less formal and more flexible collaboration methods are needed. The ability to provide input around items, assemblies, BOMs, and other product information outside formal change and product processes enhances product development and ultimately accelerates NPDI processes.


  • Facilitate easy transfer of data between design and manufacturing systems
  • Provide intuitive web-based applications to accommodate less sophisticated partner environments
  • Provide formal and informal methods of collaboration
  • Share controlled build packages with in-context collaboration without accessing live system data
  • Enable licensed access for internal/external teams with formal approval and sign-off capabilities
  • Allow licensed access for internal/external teams with informal collaboration outside formal review process


  • Increases system adoption and removes training obstacles
  • Speeds product development cycles and time to market
  • Reduces time to identify product issues
  • Reduces cost and complexity to share information with multitiered supply chains
  • Removes confusing methods of collaboration via disconnected email, vaults, and other systems


  • Determine if the solution can provide build packages for product data (e.g., BOMs, parts, documents, drawings)
  • Ask the vendor if they support informal ways to collaborate outside the formal change process

5. Perform Proactive Health and Risk Assessments on BOM Components

Complex product companies and their supply chain partners need to eliminate risks for sourcing market-available and compliant components. The ability to identify and source parts that meet environmental compliance is critical to reduce product costs and get products delivered on time and on budget. Providing component lifecycle and compliance information to the right people throughout the supply chain is critical to ensure quality, reduce costs, and avoid unnecessary shipping delays.