Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ready to Trade Your Spreadsheets for Fashion PLM?

Spreadsheets may be a quick and easy way to record the status of apparel and footwear styles as they move through various product development stages, but is there a better way?

Is an apparel or footwear PLM system better than working with multiple copies of spreadsheets? Consider the tradeoffs!
Product lifecycle management software for apparel and footwear firms, also known as fashion PLM software, offers a highly integrated alternative to managing your product development efforts via spreadsheets, but is it right for you?

As they grow, apparel and footwear fashion companies can easily become bogged down in sending and receiving multiple versions of spreadsheets among members of the product development team, raw material suppliers, factories and shippers, to name a few. Everything from tech packs to approvals to line plans and schedules undergoes seemingly endless revisions in the journey to bring a fashion line to market.

5 Things to Consider When Deciding if a Fashion PLM System is Right for You

To help you grapple with the pros and cons of converting your manual spreadsheet-based development process to an integrated PLM-based process, we've outlined 5 key factors to consider when deciding if fashion PLM software is right for your business.

PLM Factor #1: Single Location or Multi-Location?

For very small single-location development teams with their own in-house production facility, spreadsheets may be sufficient, especially if the entire team works in the same building. However, as development and production teams grow and become more geographically dispersed, the task of emailing multiple versions of tech packs back and forth, and of communicating style and line status changes via random emails tends to quickly become unwieldy. Even in a single-location environment, spreadsheet users may experience file access problems when multiple team members try to update the same spreadsheets simultaneously.

PLM Factor #2: Product Line Size and Frequency

Regardless of how geographically limited the development staff may be, challenges multiply when using spreadsheets to manage larger numbers of new styles and lines per season or per year. As the number of new designs increase, the size of the development staff tends to grow accordingly, and with it the number of people adding and updating style and line information. The more your apparel or footwear product lines grow, the greater the benefits of adopting fashion PLM software.

PLM Factor #3: Cost of Mistakes

PLM software helps avoid costly mistakes by eliminating duplicate and conflicting information. Because it uses a central database, multiple copies of spreadsheets and tech packs no longer exist. PLM software that uses threaded messaging also eliminates the chance of missing an important email by replacing emails with a centralized stream of messages linked directly to each style in the new line throughout the development process, all the way to the launch of the line into production. Consider the potential cost of mistakes caused by inaccurate information related to your current spreadsheet-based development process, and the cost of delays to product line launches that often result. Compare that to your average annual PLM cost. Often this is enough to justify a move to fashion PLM software.

PLM Factor #4: ERP Integration & Speed to Market

The best fashion PLM software offers seamless integration to fashion ERP software used to run your business. Once a new style or line has achieved final approval in the product development process, significant time can be saved and greater accuracy achieved by importing PLM style-related information directly into your ERP system, thereby eliminating manual entry and the errors that can accompany it. PLM-to-ERP integration also speeds time to market and reduces overhead costs. If you are considering fashion PLM or ERP software, it is wise to seek a solution that offers full PLM/ERP integration.

PLM Factor #5: Growth Path

Is yours a business with the potential for significant growth? How much more difficult would it be to manage your product development information if your business were to grow 25%, 50%, or 100%? It may be easier to make the transition now rather than when your staff is larger. Also, by making the move to PLM software earlier, you may be able to slow the rate at which you would otherwise need to hire new staff to keep pace with your growing fashion business.

Are You Considering Fashion PLM for Your Business?

If you think the time may be right to make the move from spreadsheets to PLM to better manage your business, please click here to contact Xperia Solutions. We'll be happy to discuss your needs and to arrange a free demo of our fashion PLM and/or ERP software optimized for the apparel and footwear industry. With over 30 years experience in fashion software, we know the industry well and are happy to share our knowledge with you. Our goal is to help make your business as profitable and efficient as possible. Please contact us today.