We’ve seen how important people are to a collaborative process. In this post we’ll focus on how giving them the right tools can help streamline product development.
Blog 3/4: Tools, by Kate Robinson, Editor at Lectra
If you’ve ever started out doing something with one tool and then found out there’s something better, then it might seem obvious to you that not every tool is created equal: spreadsheets for compiling technical information are hard to keep up to date; subjective verbal descriptions for communicating color confuse more often than they clarify; manual prototyping is tedious and time consuming. But most of us are under constant pressure to deliver, which doesn’t leave much time for finding better solutions to problems, let alone initiating new ways of working.
Process first, technology second
Good tools are made with process in mind; they are built to eliminate the inefficiencies that are unavoidable when working manually. But tools shouldn’t add to complexity; they should help bring order to chaos and tease sense out of the tangle of information apparel professionals confront on a daily, hourly, minute-to-minute, basis. The best technology tools fit seamlessly into the user’s world and speak their language.
When someone shows us a solution, it’s like a gift: we gain time and shed the frustration that can lead to panic. Trimmed of inefficiency, our working methods actually benefit others further down the line: a product manager who keeps an updated database gives product development more flexibility to respond to budget constraints earlier in the timeline; a designer who prepares colors using numeric values takes the guesswork out of a dyer’s labdip process; a pattern maker who uses 3D prototyping technology can check with design right away to see if the style is right.
Nothing without knowledge
The danger of technology is that the speed and efficiency it brings can be so seductive that we forget to think about process. Tools can’t replace expertise, but they can make better use of it. The right tools help get the job done faster and leave more time for the human interactions that really make a difference: discussing the fit of a suit, agreeing on colorways, deciding if timelines are realistic. Just as human effort has its limitations, so does technology. Applying human expertise to technology is what makes a tool powerful.
In our next blog, which will appear October 8th, we will see how process refinement contributes to maximizing efficiency in apparel development.