The ugly truth about digital transformation – first, get rid of spreadsheets

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
24 April, 2019 | 3 min for reading
The ugly truth about digital transformation – first, get rid of spreadsheets

Digital Transformation is one of the fanciest words in a modern lexicon of technologist, strategist and marketing people. Digital is such a sweet word. It makes you feel happy just by saying it. Unfortunately, “digital transformation” marketing gives a false sense of power. It feels like just by saying word digital, companies can transform themselves and push forward in a new trajectory.

My attention was caught by Aras PLM blog – Live from ACE 2019. The following passage was my favorite.

It’s easy to get excited about AI, AR, and the 3D visual experience. However, let’s be real. The first step is to get rid of your spreadsheets and paper documentation – to get an accurate product data baseline. We’re not just talking a digital CAD model, but data that includes access to performance data, as-built parts, and previous maintenance work history for everyone from technicians to product managers.

The passage was resonating with what I can see a brutal reality of many manufacturing teams, contractors and suppliers using OpenBOM. Majority of the companies coming to OpenBOM are using Excel or Spreadsheets. They love the flexibility and use it often. All of them are getting to the point when spreadsheets cannot be used as a reliable source of information and communication.

The story is very much repeating, so you can wake me up in the middle of the night and I can tell it to you. Here is an outline, I’ve heard literally thousands of time.

1- Our company is creating the design and then need to communicate product information between members of the team to finalize Bill of Materials.

2- We pull the information into Excel and send it to team members using email. After some time we’ve got lost and barely can find latest Excel.

3- After we have done, the information is manually imported into ERP system. Mistakes are normal, so information going to ERP is not exactly the one team worked on.

At OpenBOM we created some fundamental technologies helping to automate BOM creations, share BOM between members of the team and across multiple organizations and later to import BOM automatically in ERP systems.

The following 3 videos can give you some examples of these process and how OpenBOM helps companies to overcome communication and data management challenges while helping to escape spreadsheets.

This is an example of how easy OpenBOM can get data from CAD system and create BOM including all information and references to CAD files and PDFs

Next video gives you an idea of what means real-time collaboration and how teams can “stay on the same BOM” while located in different countries and geographies.

Finally, this video shows you how simple to push data from OpenBOM to ERP system (it can be any downstream system).


OpenBOM is simplifying data management for manufacturing teams. Easy import from Excel of CAD tools allows you to bring data and escape Excel data management. Real-time collaboration in OpenBOM allows you to share information easily. Open API and export tools solve the problem of downstream information sharing. All together, OpenBOM helps you to escape the misery of Excel BOM management.

Check OpenBOM today by registering to a FREE user account.

Best, Oleg

P.S. Let’s get to know each other better. If you live in the Greater Boston area, I invite you for a coffee together (coffee is on me). If not nearby, let’s have a virtual coffee session  —  I will figure out how to send you a real coffee.

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my Beyond PLM blog and PLM Book website.

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