How OpenBOM Solves the Concerns of Collaborating with Suppliers

Jared Haw
Jared Haw
3 March, 2023 | 4 min for reading
How OpenBOM Solves the Concerns of Collaborating with Suppliers

We all understand the importance of collaborating with other teams and contractors in order to accelerate speed to market. In order to get to market quicker, you partner or contract work to those who have more knowledge and expertise in a specific area. During design for manufacturing (DFM) the most popular company you outsource to support this is your contract manufacturer (CM) or supplier. 

However, if you have developed a product with your CM then you know there are multiple risks associated with this. These risks vary from IP infringements all the way to language barriers. 

One of the goals of OpenBOM is to enable collaboration with your supplier. In this post, we will go over the three main concerns of working with a CM and how OpenBOM can help to eliminate some of these risks. 

Collaboration Risks Debunked by OpenBOM

First, OpenBOM will not magically turn an underperforming supplier into a worlds leading supplier. However, what OpenBOM will do is enable collaboration between you and your supplier. By enabling collaboration, you will be able to improve your overall output and manufacturing efficiency. 

However, some manufacturers are skeptical of collaborating with suppliers because of the risks associated with it. Here are some of the top risks manufacturers have identified in working with suppliers and how OpenBOM can eliminate some of these risks. 

Time Zone Issues

A concern manufacturers have working with suppliers, especially those overseas is not being in a similar time zone. The risks these manufacturers see with this are not necessarily the time zone but it’s not being able to access their data when they want to. Therefore, they need to wait hours or days in order to get what they need.

For example, if you want the most recent BOM cost for a previous PO then you don’t want to wait for your supplier to provide that if you don’t have it. You would like direct access to this. 

OpenBOM solves this risk by providing a single source of truth and offering instant access to all product, manufacturing, design, and engineering data. You no longer need to wait for the most recent CAD version or BOM revision. You have it instantly. 

In addition, all revisions are imputable so you are able to track the history of all revisions and see when they were made and by who. 

Usually, having instant access to your data resolves the risks of your suppliers being in a different time zone. 

Not Transparent

Suppliers tend to be blamed for their lack of transparency or perceived lack of transparency. Your supplier not being transparent can mean anything. Such as not having the proper cost breakdown, not providing lead times for parts, not following the shipping schedule, making unapproved changes, and more. 

The good news is that usually suppliers have all of this information. They just fail to communicate and share this with you. Or they have sent this to you but it’s lost in a cluster of emails and spreadsheets. 

The way OpenBOM helps to eliminate this risk is by offering a single source of truth that connects you with the suppliers. Using spreadsheets was great and served its purpose. However, they contribute to creating data silos. These data silos are not visible to everyone and you must rely on emails back and forth to connect everything together. 

OpenBOM is set up as a flexible data model that allows manufacturers to customize the BOM that’s the best fit for themselves. Your supplier is also able to create specific columns, such as lead time, so you can accurately prepare the correct time to place a purchase order (PO). 

Making Changes that were not Approved

Another complaint I have heard from manufacturers is their supplier made changes without letting them know. Sometimes these changes are made with good intentions but are not communicated well enough while other times they were made to increase their profits. 

Whatever the reason is, by not having a proper ECO workflow, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to changes that were never approved. If these changes are not caught then you will have financial, quality, and reputation issues that can follow you for years. 

OpenBOM completely eliminates this risk by setting up a workflow to approve all change requests. Therefore, no changes can be made without certain members of your team approving the change requests. 

What can you do Today?

If you have concerns about collaborating with your suppliers then you just need a tool that helps to enable collaboration. This is the value of OpenBOM. 

OpenBOM is a cloud-based PDM & PLM platform to manage your engineering and manufacturing data. Companies from startups to Fortune 500’s use OpenBOM to create a centralized database to bring in, store, and manage their manufacturing data. With this infrastructure, users also use OpenBOM to streamline both their change management and PO processes.

If you need to improve the way you manage your data and processes, contact us today for a free consultation. 


Jared Haw

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