Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) specialist Centric Software has added new digital touch-screen boards to its Centric Visual Innovation Platform (Centric VIP) to improve collaboration between designers, merchandisers and buyers – and help change the way decisions are made.

Developed in partnership with leading brands and retailers, Digital Concept Boards and Digital Buying Boards "re-define design ideation and buying," the company says, "by fully transforming the ways teams collaborate, share ideas and make decisions."

The Centric VIP digital collection of collaborative boards for touch-based devices such as iPad, iPhone and touch-screen televisions are fully connected with Centric PLM.

The boards bring together live information from multiple sources across the entire organisation, aligning teams and internal knowledge for faster time to market and product innovation.

The new Digital Concept Board enables teams across all departments including design, merchandising and production/sourcing to engage in creative-play and what-iffing within a business context. This work typically takes place offline or with ad-hoc tools.

The teams can freely drag and drop inspiration images from sources like mood boards, websites and existing PLM product libraries to digitally capture creative concepts, elaborate design intent and create product briefs. Merchandising and production/sourcing teams contribute additional knowledge and, as concepts mature, they are quickly pushed to PLM for further development, samples, sourcing and market launch.

All information is digital, resulting in full visibility into collection status, zero data loss/re-entry or error and a massive boost in execution speed, Centric says. Analog tools such as foam core boards, paper printouts and sticky notes are eliminated.

In addition, the new Digital Buying Board streamlines buying sessions for retail, wholesale and e-commerce by aligning product and category teams, merchants, internal buyers and sales on a single, highly-visual platform.

Buyers choose products from global, core or special collections and build assortments by channel (retailer and/or e-commerce), store type or even by individual store, with roll-ups of buy commitments for multiple channels and other analytics calculated automatically.

Roll-ups are used to forecast aggregate quantities for production planning and minimum order quantity (MOQ) checks; while analytics validate buying choices by giving insights such as quantities by colour, material, style, price point, delivery date, region and channel.

Linking product, merchandising, buying and sales teams for real-time collaboration when holding buying sessions and creating regional assortments "dramatically streamlines communications, empowers regional decision-makers with up-to-date, transparent information and gives product teams visibility into what is being brought to market. Execution time is vastly accelerated," Centric explains.