Mountain View, CA February 18, 2002 Can one application make product development less chaotic? bom.com thinks so.
The company provides a Web-based solution for collaborative product development centered on a bill-of-materials (BOM) framework and recently rolled out new functionality for managing changing data during design and production.
"Collaboration is not optional for companies that wish to be competitive it's imperative," said Michael Topolovac, CEO and co-founder of bom.com. "Increasingly, this requires effective communication around changes to product data throughout development."
Topolovac points to two challenges to achieving greater collaboration: communicating with a complex supply chain that may be scattered around the world, and structuring that communication according to the requirements of each phase of development. For these reasons, Topolovac argued, a solution for managing changes has to go beyond simply allowing collaboration to enhancing the change process.
The bom.com approach focuses on establishing a central, Web-based BOM that all parties in a design process can access, allowing partners to share the latest data throughout the development process. The centralized product data eliminate information duplication and ensures that all users are working with the same up-to-date information, according to bom.com.
Other features that the solution provider pointed to include the ability to establish a degree of control over product data that is appropriate to each stage in the development process, automated systems for change notification and approvals that route information to the right people at the right time and visibility into, and metrics about, a product's full evolution from concept to production.
The new functionality that bom.com rolled out this month included version control. An item in bom.com can now have multiple versions: a non-editable, "effective" version that represents the latest snapshot, or locked-down set of data; an editable, "working" version to which users make revisions; and "superseded" versions, previous effective versions that accumulate as a historical record of an item's development from the earliest stages of design. To ensure proper workflow during development, only authorized users have privileges to release changes or make new versions effective.
A second new feature, the lifecycle system, mirrors the process flow for developing a product. Users move items through a sequence of stages from preliminary to design to production, with phases within each stage to identify active and inactive items. A lifecycle diagram within the application shows a view of an item's status. User-access roles offer multiple levels of permissions for releasing versions during design and production, during design only or not at all.
The new version control functionality is offered as part of the bom.com application and is available immediately at no additional cost to bom.com customers. The add-on change management module will be priced as a separate license and will be available in Q2 2002.
bom.com is available for an annual prepaid subscription of $1000 per user, with no set-up or installation fees.