Using PLM

Implementing PLM is the biggest challenge of acquiring any system, whether it be on-premise or on-cloud, experts say. Companies must fully understand the benefits the software can bring but also be fully committed and patient during the absorption process as it won’t happen overnight. Firms should also avoid the “big-bang” or rushed implementation of a PLM system as it could backfire. Instead, they should implement it in small steps while management should understand the systems’ key benefits before attempting to enroll employees.

PLM implementation – purchase phase

Incorporating PLM into a clothing company’s business requires change management and a high dose of patience, says Daniella Ambrogi, vice president of marketing at vendor Lectra, adding that a PLM implementation is not for the faint of heart. “PLM is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight,” she notes.

PLM implementation challenges – do your homework

While PLM can save time and money, its implementation must go smoothly or apparel manufacturers can face big losses from conversion delays and employee frustration. Unfortunately, executing PLM is hardly ever easy. Experts advise apparel makers, brands and retailers to conduct extensive vendor screening and choose an industry specialist or multi-sector provider with the latest Application Programming Interface or (API) technology to avoid “big-bang” approaches that can cost millions.

PLM implementation – avoid the “big bang”

Some experts say companies should not rush to implement a “big-bang PLM” where they endeavour to pursue a huge software shift that could backfire. Rather, they should implement PLM in small steps to better adapt to technological changes and give employees enough room to cope with the new system.

Preparing your IT systems to merge with PLM

Preparing your organisation for PLM requires the latest enterprise software, a desire to carry out often thorny change management and – just as crucially – buying a really good server, some vendors say. “You need to have a really strong database server with enough capacity for hundreds of users working in different countries with perhaps not the best internet connection,” says one PLM software executive. “In configuring the server, there are so many different components to look at including upload and download speeds, response times, data security shields, etc. You also need to assess whether you need one or several servers that can back each other in case of delays or failures.”

How to migrate legacy data to your PLM?

Computer legacy systems refer to outdated computer systems, programming languages or application software that firms must replace to modernise their enterprises. In the fast-moving fashion industry, replacing first-generation PLM or Product Development Management (PDM) systems is becoming increasingly crucial for apparel makers. Just like merging ERP or other enterprise software with PLM, replacing legacy systems “can be a touchy subject,” says Charles Benoualid, vice president of R&D at vendor Visual Next. He adds businesses must carefully choose the key data sets they want to migrate to a new PLM before embarking on the transfer process.

How to motivate employees to use PLM?

Motivating employees to use PLM is not easy – especially if the often cumbersome transition process goes awry, exhausting staff who will likely resist future vendor changes. Companies must carry out a high-level review of the organisational processes they want to change with PLM before getting lower management and staff involved in the implementation, stresses Charles Benoualid, vice president of R&D at vendor Visual Next.

Why do PLM projects fail?

PLM failures stem from apparel and textile firms’ inability to conduct proper due diligence on the systems they need to streamline their businesses and the poor customer service of some vendors, experts say. “They may have a bad implementation because the system they are using is not user friendly or its vendor consultants are not equipped with enough apparel expertise,” says German Elizondo, who oversees Latin America for Centric Software, echoing views that a firm must have a prior process definition or review of how PLM can drive business change before approaching potential vendors.

PLM and Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is allowing machines to communicate directly with others through sensor-based technologies or the cloud. And the phenomenon is fuelling the advent of Industry 4.0, enabling a bigger chunk of the textiles and apparel circuit to become automated and exchange valuable data on a real-time basis. The trend is bolstering supply chain efficiencies and retailers’ bottom lines, say observers.

The future of PLM

So what is future of PLM? “It’s going to go completely mobile,” says Craig Crawford, founder of consultancy Crawford IT. “There is going to be more open collaboration. PLM will enhance opportunities for brands to go direct to consumers and determine what they make.” As the gaming, cinema and fashion technology industries converge, there will be rising opportunities to sell products by testing them from a digital 3D simulation perspective. “We will be able to test what people want before we go to market,” Crawford notes.

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PLM Directory

The landscape of what it looks like when a consumer buys clothing is moving rapidly towards small quantities and mass customization. Learn how Tukatech is helping.