What Does PLM Stands For?
All businesses want to save as much time and money as they can, in the process of delivering products or service to consumers. The fashion industry is no different. But given the rather complicated nature of the fashion business with its many moving parts and variety of actors, time and cost efficiency often seems like an unattainable dream. Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue, in the form of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. While not exactly new (it’s been used in various other sectors), the benefit of PLM to the fashion industry is increasingly being recognized.
What is PLM?
The clue is in the name, but who better to define PLM than industry experts who should know? According to TechTarget, PLM is “a systematic approach to managing the series of changes a product goes through, from its design and development to its ultimate retirement or disposal.” In other words, PLM software facilitate collaboration and communication between product professionals, enabling them to effectively manage information throughout the lifecycle of a product. Beginning from idea generation, to design and manufacture of a product, and right on to distribution and disposal, PLM allows professionals to stay on the same page and follow a common schedule. Developers, designers, and manufacturers can work together on the same web-based platform and interact in real time.
Say a team of fashion professionals wants to create a leather jacket for instance. With PLM, everyone involved from designing to manufacturing can communicate and work together without necessarily being in the same location. They can easily access the jacket’s specifications (tech pack), determine what stage of the project is next, who is doing what, and when.
So what does PLM bring to the table?
A lot, actually. PLM makes planning easier. It allows the product development team to work on the same page and calendar, stay updated on the most recent version of a product and find out if the product is dropped from the line. Since everyone can work at the same time, less paperwork is required and more time is saved, especially when compared to sequential processes. PLM software releases specific details, including which product is on the agenda and if any changes were made to the product. This ability to manage multiple aspects at the same time greatly reduces the possibility of mishaps, resulting in an error-free, quality product that is ready for review in less time than traditional methods of product management. Other benefits of PLM include:
With PLM software, manufacturers can rapidly and effortlessly view a product’s specifications for drafting, estimate costs and deliver a sample of the product to the retailer. Once the retailer assesses the product sample, revisions are entered into the PLM software system and the manufacturer can generate the final product sample.
Compare that with undertaking the process without the help of PLM software; lots of documents and spreadsheets would need to go back and forth, retail would have to wait for product details and samples from the manufacturer, and each aspect of the garment production would have to wait for the preceding. This time-consuming process only increases the risk of errors, and of course, the cost of doing business.
Time Saving & Cost Reduction
Considering that PLM provides total visibility of product data throughout a project, it helps to limit inefficiencies at all stages, ensuring that things are done more quickly, and unnecessary steps are avoided. As a result, PLM software reduce the average product’s lifecycle management in half. Since time is money to most businesses, the benefit of this is obvious – businesses can meet consumer demand for products while decreasing costs. A recent study by Kalypso shows that the average PLM integration improves revenue by 13.4%, grow margins by 13.2% and increase new product revenue by 15.8%.
Adopting PLM has been a highly beneficial move for several players in the fashion industry. Some of the biggest fashion, apparel and footwear companies are using it to improve business agility, positioning themselves to respond quickly to rapid demand changes and complex global supply chains. The whole product visibility that PLM provides means that businesses can reduce inefficiencies, make products with higher adoption rates, which usually sell at higher prices and ultimately higher profitability. They can quickly add best-selling apparel and remove garments that are not selling well from the supply chain. This lowers inventory losses and increases sales. Additionally, the quality of the product improves and errors decrease during development.
PLM improves the ease of merchandise planning, helps apparel businesses decide the types of products that should be made, retail price, and distribution. Designers also have a clearer vision on how to manage their time on the product, and using PLM software, modern fashion businesses and retailers are better placed to avoid losing profits from markdowns, by ensuring that the right products are what get to the shops.
PLM platforms offer excellent advantage for the fashion industry on four key fronts:
- Strategy: The strategy aspect focuses on managing and mapping the project development process. Specific software tools can be used to manage ideas efficiently and give clarity to all stakeholders about the roadmap to project implementation.
- Design: The design capability of PLM focuses on uniting product requirements with consumers’ needs. Designers have to pay attention to rising trends and utilize collaboration tools which helps make product design quick and simple.
- Product Data: Holding and making product data available is the primary and most important role of PLM. Product information is placed within a single location. Data includes costs, materials, and design sketches. Updated information can be added at any time.
- Supply Chain Management: The supply chain aspect can help modern fashion businesses safely and efficiently communicate with vendors in real time. The product can be sent to the marketplace faster with PLM solutions.
Selecting the Right PLM Software
It can be daunting to choose which PLM software program is right to use. A modern fashion business may have difficulty determining which PLM software is right for it, but there are certain considerations that can make decision easier:
PLM software has to be compatible with business requirements. The software should be implementable within existing infrastructure (i.e., operating systems, servers) based on the size and complexity of the business.
A software vendor should be capable of providing the required training to businesses, whether online or face-to-face training. Such training must of course, keep in mind the tech-savviness of users, as some developers and manufacturers may have experience using PLM software while others may have never heard of it. Without training, the new software won’t be very useful.
Before investing in any PLM software product, it is necessary to learn more about the vendor. The company should be reputable, financially stable and of a good size, because it’s important that the company is large enough to handle the size of your business. The company should also have experience working and collaborating with fashion businesses and should have good references. Visual Next ticks all of these boxes. As industry insiders who have been working in this field for the last 20 years we are recognized as a leading software provider for the apparel and fashion industry.
In today’s complicated world of cross-discipline product development, fashion businesses need to make concerted efforts to stay profitable. PLM makes this possible in view of the increasing complexity of apparel product lifecycle.
Discover a PLM Software Tailored to Fashion Businesses of all size and talk to a specialist: Visual PLM