In many cases, a company’s BOM (bill of materials) starts out strong. Unfortunately, though, it rarely stays that way. The BOM your engineers first put together, the one vetted against then-relevant market information (including parts’ health, availability, and safety concerns) and your NPI process, might not be as reliable down the line. 

Every BOM is at risk of becoming aged or outdated when cross-referenced against market shifts, industry pivots, and component updates. The same components you initially banked on could become unavailable or unreliable – or they could become incompatible with changing compliance regulations.

There’s also the factor of updating the BOM to account for additional product lines or variants. All of this makes the original BOM your team compiled further outdated or incomplete in the current day and age.  

The point is, your product lines may have evolved significantly since that first, healthy, and fair BOM. And although you’ve likely cultivated processes to manage these changes and keep your BOM as healthy as possible, there may be one factor you haven’t taken into consideration: the human factor. 

The Role of Bias in BOM Assessments

People must be acknowledged as potential strengths and weaknesses that affect the end result, an element that is sometimes ignored in the product and supply chain management equation. In response to a complex environment, we redefine the issue space, focusing on a subset of inputs to make decisions. 

So, what exactly does this mean for BOM health? The answer is both simple and relatively complex: it’s an issue of bias. Without a system in place that serves as a guardrail against inaccurate or unsubstantiated inputs, BOM health is continuously subjected to the whims of human bias and the “known” experiences of those reviewing it.  

With that BOM or comparable BOMs, we may run some risk assessment or market availability check on a few critical, but troublesome, components in a database. Then we presume the other 80% of the BOM is fine. In our eyes, and based on what we have learned, this process isn’t just efficient. It’s also logical.

We utilize our existing knowledge based on providers and products lines and make a judgment call based on the information we believe is fact. After all, this type of critical thinking and reasoning has long been encouraged in the workplace, being seen as a representation of expertise, education, and effective decision-making skills.

But the problem with this approach is that it fails to account for the unknown or changes in the market. Learned behaviors and processes only remain effective so long as they take the full picture into account.

That’s why we need technological systems in place: to either confirm or correct our biases. Traditional BOM assessment (both in-house and those provided by consulting companies), may help you rectify some issues at the moment the assessment takes place.

But these processes only capture a moment in time; there’s no way to ensure the data and recommendations captured in these sessions will remain relevant or accurate months, weeks, or even days later.

Technological Systems: The Antidote to Poor BOM Health

What if a system was built to help us avoid biases and promote efficiency? Instead of depending on previous BOM and supplier experiences, we see the BOM health—risk, compliance, and component status—in our enterprise system, and we can change the view at any time.

With this kind of resource, the issue of human prejudice is mitigated. Not only does your staff now have the toolkit and support needed to act rationally, but you can view the current BOM health independent of its complexity, historical change, or our own familiarity and bias. Your products will thrive, and you’ll ensure a successful position amongst your competitors.

You can’t predict the future, but you can get the jump on your competition by thinking a few moves ahead. LevaData’s AI-driven advisor explores all relevant sources of information to predict risks, identify savings opportunities and suggest the best course of action. It compares alternate BOMs side-by-side for a real-time view of the price and risk impact of any changes.

Acting as a single source of truth, LevaData integrates with design and PLM systems to break down silos of information. The platform keeps track of BOM health, attributes, and project history throughout the process. Built-in communication tools, task assignments, and project management functionality further allow your teams to collaborate seamlessly, drastically reducing the time it takes to get new products to market.

Find out more by scheduling a demo today.