What is PLM?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) allows all parties in a garment's design and development cycle to work on a single, real-time platform to achieve economies of scale. This chapter outlines how the software works to increase enterprise collaboration to boost speed-to-market and profitability through both on-premise, cloud, and mobile systems.

What is PLM?

“I see PLM becoming the central nervous system of a company,” enthuses Charles Benoualid, vice president of R&D at vendor Visual Next, adding that the software saw its genesis as an aeronautics industry solution and has since evolved to become a top enabler in the fast-moving global fashion industry.

How does PLM work?

PLM works as a web-based interface and is typically installed “on-premise” or on a company’s server. However, it can now increasingly be operated on cloud computing or mobile devices. For the system to function properly, a company must assess which of the three operating options best meets its strategic needs and goals.

What key enterprise activities is PLM best suited for?

Broadly speaking, companies use PLM to increase productivity and collaboration, improve quality, bolster creativity, and shorten time to market for a product. It is used across various industries, helping integrate data and documents, business systems, and people involved in the product creation process. At the same time, it allows those involved to systematically track all the changes a product goes through during its development. In the fashion industry, PLM enables an apparel company to more quickly and efficiently develop a fashion collection, mainly through enhanced supply chain visibility, experts say, adding that key processes such as pattern making or styling are sharply improved, helping boost speed to market and cutting inventory losses.

How do I know I need PLM?

“Today’s challenge is gaining speed to market while increasing margins and reducing inventory. You have to have a unique source of truth and eliminate isolated solutions instead of generating Excel sheets everywhere.” This is how German Elizondo, who oversees Latin America for fashion-focused vendor Centric Software, describes how PLM can benefit large and small global apparel manufacturers, retailers or brands looking to boost their game. Using its system, companies can track an entire product’s lifecycle through its web-based portal in which the production, marketing, buying, sourcing and other key teams can see progress on a real-time basis, saving precious time and gaining speed to market.

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