What is a Bill of Materials (BOM)

A Bill of Materials (BOM) is a list of inputs that go into your product. If the sketch sheet was a broad overview of the style itself, the BOM is specific about the materials. Not only is it specific about each input, it is specific per colorway. In other words, if you have three colorways, you will need a BOM for each color. Perhaps you could think of a BOM as a list of ingredients. If it is not on the BOM, it doesn’t go into the product. Here is a sample BOM report (pdf) made using the StyleFile software.

With the BOM (which you need for costing later on), you also need to track the vendor -and testing- of each input. Again, everyone needs to do this (shrinkage etc) but kid’s producers more than anyone (which is why I said that the children’s producers who survive will become the epitome of professional practices in the trade). Off to the side is another worksheet from StyleFile, the BOM editor (different from the pdf above). Clicking on an item in the left row, causes the header information to change (indicated by the arrow). You can see the full size form by clicking on the graphic.

If you’re making up your own form, you will need to track the following items per “ingredient”.

BOM information:

  • Product code (often called a style no. for fabric or input)
  • Product description
  • Vendor
  • Cuttable Width, size (buttons) or length (zippers)
  • Test results (shrinkage, lead etc)
  • Estimated/actual yield (allocation, qty used)
  • Required processing (sponging, dyeing, enzyme bath etc)

To save yourself some grief later on, you might want to add a field that lists whether this is a “common” item meaning it’s used in a variety of your products. That way, if you’re doing testing of any kind, it is shared across your database. If you like, you can also add costing information per item. Most firms split that up because it’s proprietary but if you’re the only one doing all the work, it doesn’t matter. Keep in mind that contractors will need to see your BOM. Contractors often use the BOM as a checklist to make sure they’re received all of your inputs. Don’t forget to include the most common and mundane items. Thread and labels (care, tracking and company) are often omitted.

Note about vendor sources on the BOM: I realize this is proprietary and you may not want your contractor to see this but it can be helpful if they have this information. One, some vendors aren’t the best. If the vendor is known to sell crocked goods, the contractor will be sure to be extra vigilant when spreading. Second, the contractor may know a better source than whoever you’re using. Lastly, if you run short on a given input, contractors often know how good a vendor is about turning an order.

Previous entries:
What is a sketch sheet
CPSIA: Printable labels for August requirements
CPSIA and tracking label requirements

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