Outdoor shoe manufacturer and retailer Keen Inc has invested in a new Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution to help support its rapid growth.

Portland, Oregon-based Keen, which makes shoes, sandals, boots, bags and apparel, sells its products through its own branded retail and online stores as well as via a vast network of global retail partners and distributors.

The company has selected the Centric Software PLM solution to lend structure and improve efficiency during a period of expansion.

"We have grown pretty dramatically since 2003," says Hari Perumal, Keen's vice president, global technical operations.

"Because we manufacture, source and distribute on a global scale, we deal with a lot of complexity. Our design and development teams are spread across multiple regions to be in tune with consumer tastes and expectations in different markets as diverse as Japan, Europe and Canada.

"We have been running the business in the same way since the company was founded, using spreadsheets, word documents, emails and line drawings, and now we need a system to bring all these together."

Perumal continues: "Product developers spend time chasing spreadsheets rather than getting their real, productive work done. Multiply that by the number of countries we are in, and the amount of time lost just explodes.

"The lead time for development is drawn out because we do not have clear visibility into our KPIs. We are at a threshold where we need strong foundation systems to scale the business up and support our aggressive growth plans.

"We are confident that this is the right moment to implement Centric PLM and that it will enable us to grow our business."

Perumal explains the aim is to bring all of the global teams together, "so there are no discrete people working in corners of the world that are invisible to each other.

"We also want to break down separate systems to help people figure out their workload."

The aim is to make all these emails and spreadsheets obsolete, "so that people will come to work, log into Centric and, based on their roles and responsibilities, get a dashboard and an automated workflow that will tell them what the next steps are.

"We're looking forward to having business intelligence reports to tell us what progress is being made and what the pain points are, so that we can address these early on."