One of the great challenges for hardware engineers and designers lies in getting all of their product’s component, part and assembly data into a central repository that will eventually become a Bill of Materials (BOM). As stated in “How to Build a BOM” from Fictiv’s “Hardware Guide”, “An effective BOM doesn’t have to be generated by sophisticated software — it can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet.” This, for the most part, is true. However, any successful engineering product development company eventually arrives at a point where spreadsheets can begin to cause more harm than good.

While spreadsheets offer ease of use, they greatly lack the ability to identify and correct problems, track changes among team members and enforce industry standards. A more robust, centralized system, like a PLM-based bill of materials software package is needed to better manage data and ensure companies don’t face development crises or manufacturing errors and delays. But when do you know when you’re ready to move off spreadsheets? The following is a list of signs that indicate you’re ready to take the leap.

1. You’re starting to release product revisions

The benefits of a spreadsheet-based BOM strategy quickly end…

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