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3 Challenges that Bill of Materials Software Can Help Resolve


A bill of materials (BOM) is crucial for ensuring a complete and accurate view of product parts and for protecting and analyzing the use of resources throughout the life cycle of a product. Any revision to a product’s design must be updated in the BOM, accurately identifying and listing what is required to produce the product.

This applies whether addressing:

  • Engineering bill of materials (EBOM), which reflects the product as designed by engineering.
  • Manufacturing bill of materials (MBOM), which comprises all the items needed to manufacture the shippable end product.

Because it extends to engineering, purchasing, manufacturing and quality departments, BOM management often results in a number of common challenges for manufacturing companies.

Challenge 1: Parts Specifications

The BOM contains information necessary to a variety of groups, and disconnects between these groups often occur because one department will be unaware of another department’s changes to a BOM until remediation is too late. Departmental disconnects often result in the production of out-of-specification product items. When parts specifications – and associated revisions and changes – aren't centralized and accessible by all relevant departments, large costs are almost always incurred.

How Bill of Materials Software Can Help

To help manufacturers produce accurate items, bill of materials software will:

  • Centralize BOM files and all BOM versions so every stakeholder (including suppliers and contract manufacturers) has ready access to the latest BOM information, no matter their location.
  • Allow departments to collaborate on BOM revisions, track all revisions and automatically notify all participating departments when the revisions occur.

Challenge 2: Configuration Management

BOM management and associated processes are essential to the effective configuration management process, but they are often challenging in practice. For example, configuration disconnects can greatly deter service and maintenance processes. Or, if repairs and changes are needed when a product is recalled, these changes are often difficult to identify when the correct product configuration information can't be accessed via its respective BOM.

How Bill of Materials Software Can Help

To help streamline configuration management in service and maintenance or product recalls, bill of materials software will:

  • Effectively track every BOM version throughout the product’s life cycle and make BOM data easy to find.
  • Enable service and maintenance personnel to immediately access all BOM versions or configuration records associated with any given product.
  • Integrate with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that connects batch histories with BOM versions.

Challenge 3: Up-to-Date Information

In the BOM management process, using outdated or incomplete information often results in problems, including costly rework or scrap. Meanwhile, waiting for new document-revision information can cause delays. Additional change management issues include BOM revisions that have been communicated but ultimately overlooked, leaving various groups and departments blaming each other for BOM mismanagement. For these and other reasons, it is critical that companies consistently maintain up-to-date information.

How Bill of Materials Software Can Help

BOM software will allow departments to not only update information quickly, but also:

  • Make the updated information immediately available to all other stakeholders as soon as the proper approvals have been received and applied.
  • Allow authorized people to collaborate easily and know which changes are underway, with “accountability checks” for those changes that have been communicated and approved.


Bill of materials software can help companies simplify and standardize their BOM management across departments. A robust BOM solution like MasterControl’s automated BOM system will control all BOM iterations generated during the design process and enable users to exchange BOM data with suppliers. Documents defining components can be easily viewed from the BOM, ensuring that the right documents and revisions are used during the manufacturing process.


David Butcher has covered business and technology trends in life sciences and industrial manufacturing for more than 15 years. Currently a content marketing specialist at MasterControl, he previously served as editor of Thomas Publishing’s Industry Market Trends and as assistant editor for Technology Marketing Corp.’s Customer Interaction Solutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the State University of New York, Purchase.

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