What Differentiates OpenBOM NPD Solution From Traditional PLM Systems?

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
7 June, 2023 | 6 min for reading
What Differentiates OpenBOM NPD Solution From Traditional PLM Systems?

In today’s rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape, engineering teams, and industrial companies are constantly seeking innovative solutions to streamline their product development processes. Better, faster, and cheaper remains the most important requirements triad for manufacturing business. How to translate it into a connected process that can help product development teams? This is a question we wanted to answer from the early beginning of OpenBOM foundation and development.

For the last 25+ years, the industry built many sophisticated PDM/PLM solutions. While they can solve many problems, most of the problems and processes these solutions remain closed in the engineering environment. CAD data management, change management, and product release are the best examples. The problem is that these processes are all in the “silo” of the engineering department.

New Product Development and Connected Processes

The biggest challenge of many existing PLM solutions is to address processes that go outside of the engineering department, to support the connectivity between engineering and other functions – procurement, inventory management, and supply chain management. New product development (NPD process) cannot be locked in the engineering silo. It requires connectivity with other functions. Unfortunately, the answer for many companies looking for a solution to solve the NPD problem is… Excel (or various forms of spreadsheets). And the problem is amazingly similar for both SMB/SMEs and enterprise companies. At first, you might be surprised, but after some analysis, you can see the reason for that.

Most SMB/SME companies can only afford one system – PDM/PLM or ERP. They cannot afford both and also implementation of both systems is too costly and too complex for them. As a result, you can see many awkward combos of CAD/PDM/ERP solutions integrated using Excel and various point-to-point solutions, scripts, and Excel.

The story of large enterprises is a bit different, but ends up with Excel as well. While enterprises have both PLM and ERP systems implemented, these systems and processes are not built for speed (NPD), they are focusing on continuous high-volume, production level, complex production processes. NPD and prototype development problems cannot be solved using these solutions. Which leaves engineering and prototype development teams (again) with Excel.

At OpenBOM, we decided to re-think the system and built support for the NPD process ground up differently. OpenBOM’s flexible data modeling foundation, collaborative functionality, engineering integrations, and business logic allow it to support connected NPD processes in a very unique way. 

Below, I explore 5 differentiations that set OpenBOM apart from traditional PLM systems. Check them out.

1. Centralized Catalog System for Item Masters, Vendor Sourcing, and Inventory:

One of the primary differentiators of OpenBOM NPD Solution is its centralized catalog system. This feature enables businesses to manage item masters, vendor sourcing, and inventory in a single, cohesive data set. With OpenBOM NPD Solution, teams can easily access and update crucial information, such as part specifications, vendor details, and stock levels (Quantity on Hand), fostering collaboration and ensuring accurate data across the organization. This centralized approach minimizes errors, reduces duplication of effort, and enhances efficiency throughout the engineering and procurement processes. It is a single source of truth about Item Masters stored in OpenBOM catalogs. Everyone can have access to this and edit it simultaneously (thanks to OpenBOM’s patented real-time collaboration capabilities)

2. Unified xBOM Model combining BOM (Derived from CAD) and Order (Planning BOM):

OpenBOM NPD Solution goes beyond traditional PLM systems by offering a unified xBOM model. The foundation of it allows for the management of two Bill of Materials (EBOM and Planning BOM) with eventual sync to support the creation of engineering BOM from the CAD system and management of Order (BOM) as a source of purchasing planning. By integrating these two crucial data sources of the product development process, teams can seamlessly manage design changes, manufacturing requirements, and supply chain considerations in one place. This integration minimizes errors, improves communication between teams, and accelerates the new product development process. Think about it as a unified PLM+ERP solution scaled to support the NDP process. BOM collaboration and real-time data sharing, one-click BOM integration with CAD systems, and EBOM-MBOM sync are part of this process.

3. Ordering and Gap Analysis Based on Batch Production Planning:

Traditional PLM systems lack robust ordering and inventory gap analysis capabilities. Actually, the don’t have it at all. The main reason is simple – the PLM system doesn’t manage inventory. A typical place of inventory is an ERP system and most SMBs/SMEs don’t have one. Large enterprises do have ERP, but they are not focusing on the management of inventory for prototyping and small batch productions. Also, they usually have a hard time supporting engineering-to-order manufacturing processes. OpenBOM NPD Solution fills this gap by providing advanced features for batch production planning. Teams can now generate accurate and optimized orders based on production requirements, ensuring a smoother manufacturing process. Additionally, the system enables gap analysis, highlighting potential shortages or excesses in the supply chain, allowing teams to proactively address issues and have on-time alerts on lack of inventory for production batches.

4. RFQ/PO Processing (Send/Receive)

Efficient Request for Quotation (RFQ) and Purchase Order (PO) processing is vital. After all, making a design fast is not enough. Companies need to order parts, send RFQs for bidding, negotiate the process, and receive PIs. Most of the companies will do it in Excel for small batches and prototype development, which is a foundation of NPD processes. OpenBOM NPD Solution simplifies this process by providing a seamless RFQ/PO management system. Teams can easily create, send, and receive RFQs and POs within the platform, streamlining communication with suppliers and ensuring transparency throughout the procurement process. This feature saves time, eliminates manual errors, and fosters stronger relationships with vendors, ultimately driving cost savings and improving project outcomes.

5. Build Process, Consumption, and Inventory Synchronization:

Maintaining accurate synchronization between the build process, material consumption, and inventory levels is critical for effective product development. OpenBOM NPD Solution excels in this aspect by providing real-time synchronization across these key areas. A “release to production” commands executives a consumption process to decrease stock levels based on a specific production build. As parts are consumed during the build process, the system automatically updates inventory levels, providing up-to-date information for better decision-making. This synchronization eliminates discrepancies, enhances visibility, and enables proactive inventory management.


OpenBOM NPD Solution brings a new level of innovation and efficiency to product development teams. Its differentiated features, including a centralized catalog system, a unified xBOM model, batch production planning, RFQ/PO processing, and build process synchronization, set it apart from traditional PLM systems.

OpenBOM supports many SMBs/SMEs with integrated support of design, engineering, RFQ/PO, and inventory control processes. We also make this solution available for prototyping teams and department focusing on NPD in enterprise companies. Traditionally only covered by two (PLM and ERP) systems, the OpenBOM solution is available via the SaaS model and doesn’t require any special installation and implementation. Out-of-the-box CAD integration, open API, and flexible data model make it easy to use in multiple industries.

By adopting OpenBOM NPD Solution, businesses can unlock enhanced collaboration, streamlined processes, and improved productivity, ultimately leading to accelerated time-to-market and increased competitiveness in today’s dynamic manufacturing landscape.

REGISTER FOR FREE to check how OpenBOM can help you today.

Best, Oleg 

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