Welcome to the third "10 questions with...", our series of interviews with leading figures in the PLM world. This time we spoke with Laura McCann-Ramsey of Zweave and asked about the specific advantages of implementing PLM, why Zweave's PLM solution is different and what the future holds.

PLM Hub Q1: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) remains a much-talked about strategic advantage. What do you see as the key benefits for the apparel industry - both in the short- and long-term?

Laura: Most companies today are limited in their ability to manage product data collaboratively let alone in a standardised way. In addition most business processes vary from brand to brand, division to division and product to product - all lacking standardisation. All of these limitations require an organisation to spend more time and money just maintaining their day-to-day business.

With limited or no control, poor or non-existing automation, complex products and quick cycle times, the only way to get things done is sheer brute force. It seems as an industry everyone is very good at that. However, everyone today can benefit from time savings, cost savings, and more control over their people and processes.

PLM urges organisations for the first time to see their business holistically as processes, people and information leverage this understanding across software and solutions in a way that supply chain never did.


PLM Hub Q2: How can PLM improve an organisation's competitive advantage?

Laura: When you have information at your fingertips, shared information internally and externally, and efficiencies in your processes you will have a better business, like it or not.

An organisation who has a competitive advantage around products will be able to manage product development in new ways. One who is great at operations will be able to add new capabilities that make them even more efficient. Smaller companies who need to do more with less resources can now do so as PLM will make them more productive and efficient.


PLM Hub Q3: How can PLM support a company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy?

Laura: CSR means different things to different people.

We believe that PLM can truly make clear that the processes of an organisation are enabled by their partners' collaboration. When everyone is truly treated like a partner and enabled with the right tools and information then this promise is more than a promise and becomes a reality.

The possibilities are endless when the extended supply and development chain are part of the solution and not the problem.


PLM Hub Q4: What are the stand-out features and benefits of your PLM system compared with others on the market?

Laura: Zweave is the only PLM provider who has extended PLM to include other software technologies and features. These include:

  • Open Source software platform
  • Integrated colour and material management
  • Content management
  • Vendor management
  • Client and licensee management
  • Web based PDM capabilities including tech pack, fit and sketch management
  • BOM and BOM costing
  • Grid reporting
  • Advanced portfolio definition and management
  • Option to subscribe (SaaS) or purchase (License)
  • Low cost and quick implementation


PLM Hub Q5: How compatible is your PLM system with others in the marketplace?

Laura: Zweave’s Zdesign is modular and includes 17 studios.

Each studio manages a process in the lifecycle of a product. A Zdesign studio could link to an existing PLM solution to enhance functionality. Integration of Zdesign to PLM, ERP and CAD is possible through connectors or integration.


PLM Hub Q6: What are the basic rules for a PLM project in the apparel industry compared to others?


  • Leadership must be involved
  • Business units must be invested in the outcome
  • Understand your current processes and systems
  • Leave your “As is” process behind especially if it does not leverage technology or best practices
  • Develop a “PLM to be” process that is not your “As is”
  • Bring in experts to help at any stage you require help
  • Not all PLM vendors or software are the same even if their products do similar things. Understand the difference of technology, costs to implement, cost to support and maintain
  • Select and implement a product people will love to use. Make sure your user community is involved in the selection and design


PLM Hub Q7: What would you say to companies who are thinking about deferring a PLM investment because of the current economic crisis?

Laura: Find a lower cost solution that offers a pilot or SaaS subscription model in the short term to start to get the benefit of PLM now. Use this time to try out PLM before committing to a final solution. Work out the kinks in your organisation and leverage this new found knowledge to make a better decision later.


PLM Hub Q8: What are the best PLM practices learned from the apparel segment?


  • PLM must include a flexible portfolio management set up at the brand, division and classification level
  • Multiple brands with multiple product families must be able to be supported in one PLM instance without major customisations (example: clothing and accessories)
  • Seasonality, colour and materials need to be well defined in the data model


PLM Hub Q9: Where next for PLM?

Laura: Where next for PLM will happen once PLM is widely adopted. Today it is still under consideration by many companies.

When PLM is more widely used then the "what’s next" can include collaboration with suppliers, vendors, agents and clients in a truly seamless way.


Our sincere thanks to Laura for taking the time to answer our questions. If you'd like to know more about Zweave's PLM applications please view their entry in the PLM vendor directory.