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BMS Blog – Can PLM tools enhance design creativity?


Creativity is the name of the game in fashion and the garment industry. Whether at the design table, the marketing meeting, or in the boardroom, to maintain a competitive edge today’s company must be able to generate great ideas and act on them immediately. In a business driven by the next big thing, and reigned in by the fickle demands of the consumer market, timely implementation of creative ideas is an absolute necessity. Therefore, your company should be willing to use any tool available to enhance creativity and enable creative thinking amongst your staff. After all, you hire the best people with the right skills, so you had better create a working environment that allows them to do whatever necessary to turn today’s great idea into tomorrow’s newest fashion industry success story.

So what can you do to enhance the creative capacities of your staff? Don’t go spiking the water cooler with caffeine just yet! First you should find ways to streamline the creative process, to eliminate frustrating logistical barriers, and to empower your staff with the vital flow of information they need.

Once you have found the right people to run your operations, it is imperative that you remove all possible roadblocks and give them the freedom to originate, refine and innovate in whatever function they perform. Whether they are doing marketing, designing products and ads, building web functions, or building relationships, your staff have creative capacities. That’s why you hired them. To let them do what they do best, you must give them the tools they require, and in today’s competitive manufacturing sector no tool is more handy than accurate, up-to-date information.

We all know what a complex and interconnected process is required to bring fashion and sewn goods products to the marketplace. Depending on your specific line of garments it may take months to go from the design phase to the store shelves, and most likely it will take the interaction and cooperation of many, many people at every step in between. While we are busy with product development, material selection, and ad design, the public is busy changing its tastes and altering its demands. So how do we keep pace with the market? How do we make sure the creative decisions we made last season don’t hold us back on the roll-out runway? Constantly updated and readily available information is definitely a major part of the answer.

One of the most productive things you can do to enhance creativity among your staff is to implement a Product Lifecycle Management system, or PLM. But not all PLMs are the same. Choosing the right PLM may mean the difference between a revenue-building software application, and a cash-burning tech nightmare that becomes a pariah to your creative staff. It is imperative that your company chose a PLM designed specifically for the garment industry, one that offers toolboxes and configurable software applications built with the capricious needs of the fashion industry in mind. One such package – the VerTex system by PLM-pioneers Business Management Systems – has been proven time and again to eliminate the time-wasting communication issues inherent in our line of business.

Your design department will stay updated about the availability of raw materials, and can use that information to inform their design decisions. For instance, if you are working on a line of blouses, and your design team sees that certain fabrics are available, and affordable, they may be inspired to try something that hasn’t been done before. Or, if your designers have a more accurate and reliable idea of the release date of a product, they can tailor their design to incorporate timely themes such as holidays, political or sporting events, or to simply react to quickly-changing public tastes. Likewise, if your design team can predict an upcoming supply shortage, they can avoid wasted time and look for alternative, perhaps novel replacements before committing to a material they won’t actually have access to.

A streamlined production and design system will give your staff more freedom to make inspired changes all the way up to the last minute. When it comes to design, more freedom means more creativity. The fewer practical obstacles in the way, the more likely your designers will be to follow their vision.

Simply put, a properly implemented PLM tool, especially one tailored to the needs of the fashion world, will enhance product innovation. The less time your staff spends filling out paperwork and searching for information, the more time they can spend being creative, which is what you hired them for in the first place!

Similarly, your marketing specialists will be empowered by accurate, universally-updated data. Knowing everything they can about the products they are selling will enable them to react instantly to shifting public whims and changing global realities. Knowledge is power, and for creative people knowledge fuels the engine of innovation. Put into the right hands, a piece of what seems to be bad news can be spun into a creative advantage.

A PLM system like VerTex can facilitate this integral dissemination of information, allowing your team to maximize their creative input, and allowing them to work off of each other in real time. Your staff is your greatest asset. Empowering them to work effectively as a team – even if they are spread out in facilities across the globe, or even separated by linguistic barriers – will lead to the kind of innovative synergy that drives any creative endeavor.

Don’t wait for another fashion season to come and go. Discover if your staff is capable of producing the “next big thing” right now. Find and implement an appropriate PLM system so your best people can do their best work, unhindered by the chaotic, distracting mass of data we all have to navigate through in today’s business world. Give them the tools they need to create, and spare them the onslaught of chaos that stands in their way.

Joseph Yates

For more information on VerTex, the PLM tool built for fashion, check out the BMS website, or reach us at our offices in Manhattan via the contact information below:

Business Management Systems, Inc.
330 W 38th Street
Suite 705
New York, NY 10018

Phone 212.594.8770
Toll Free 800.266.4046
Fax 212.810.4601
Email: info@bmsystems.com

Ben Hanson Ben Hanson is one of WhichPLM’s top contributors. Ben has worked for magazines, newspapers, local government agencies, multi-million pound conservation projects, museums and creative publications before his eventual migration to the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industry.Having previously served as WhichPLM’s Editor, Ben knows the WhichPLM style, and has been responsible for many of our on-the-ground reports and interviews over the last few years. With a background in literature, marketing and communications, Ben has more than a decade’s worth of experience, and is now viewed as one of the industry’s best-known writers.