Ok, I know...too much slang? But I couldn't pass up the alliteration or the homonym.
I’ve been thinking about the BOM (bill of materials) a lot lately. There is practically a religious war going on about the BOM, and it’s been going on for a long time, most notably, when PLM really started to take off. The question on the minds of most CIOs is “Should the BOM be owned by PLM or ERP?” After all, they likely spent significant time and resources deploying ERP….and then came PLM to muck it all up.
There are many types of BOMs; the engineering BOM (eBOM), manufacturing BOM (mBOM), and service BOM (sBOM), just to name a few. My colleague, Tom Shoemaker, wrote about this in a recently posted article in Time Compression. Best practices suggest that the best way to create these BOMs is through an associative transformation. Transforming the eBOM into the mBOM and the eBOM into the sBOM, while maintaining an associative link, ensures that changes made in one can be incorporated into the other. Note that BOMs may be generated in many different ways, depending on the type of products your company creates, for example configure-to-order, build-to-order, or engineered-to-order. Jos Voskuil does a nice job talking about this in his blog.
When you consider the BOM, it is so clear that it is jam-packed with valuable information and relationships. I don’t simply mean just the mechanical CAD content and electrical CAD content. But also engineering calculations, manufacturing information, service information, associated documentation, and analytics information about the product like chemical makeup, cost, weight, reliability, etc. More importantly, the relationships between and among the content is extremely valuable, informing why certain versions are being used or have been changed (as indicated by the associated engineering-change-order (ECO)). There is even greater value to be had by digging into the metadata, or “the data about the data,” that is naturally tracked in the BOM by PLM.
Who worked on what, when, and why did they do what they did? The PLM-managed BOM answers this important question. That’s one of the main reasons companies originally explored PLM in the first place. Now imagine using the BOM to find people who can help you answer your questions, innovate with you, and make recommendations. The BOM could actually recommend the right people to talk with based on their history with the BOM.
The point: there is much more value to be derived from the PLM-managed BOM than was ever conceived of initially. And social computing technology is the key to unlocking it. Marrying social computing to the BOM leverages the inherent relationships and is a core capability of social product development. It's what sets it apart from general social computing and Enterprise 2.0. It's the special sauce.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject!