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PLM Without Boundaries: The Key to Growth and Productivity


In the second installment of this two-part blog, Mark Burstein, President of Sales, Marketing and R&D at New Generation Computing, expands on “PLM Without Boundaries”.

In our previous blog post, we focused on a new vision of “PLM Without Boundaries” that places PLM at the heart of the global fashion enterprise. To deliver maximum benefits in today’s fast-paced, information-driven fashion enterprise, PLM is evolving beyond its traditional boundaries to become a platform that orchestrates all information, processes, departments and geographies in the enterprise.

The reason for this is simple: traditional PLM focuses on the design process, from initial concept through style adoption. However, what happens after customer orders are booked, the P.O. is issued and production begins is equally important. Companies will realize far more benefits when PLM, Supply Chain Management, ERP and other enterprise solutions are part of a seamless, integrated system in which critical information is synchronized and moves at the speed of fashion throughout the enterprise.

This “boundary-free” approach to PLM is the key to improving efficiencies, reducing lead times, delivering high-quality products and increasing sales and margins. PLM also provides the right platform to integrate the various forms of compliance (vendor, regulatory, environmental and product) into the design/production workflow.

As with any new endeavor there can be barriers to overcome. Departments may resist new processes and cling to older, well-entrenched (and inefficient) ways of doing things. However, the benefits are well worth it, as illustrated by two companies that adopted a “PLM Without Boundaries” approach.

For Sport Obermeyer, a U.S. fashion skiwear company, the decision to overhaul its legacy ERP, SCM and PLM systems with an integrated suite of fashion software that included PLM, ERP, SCM and warehouse management has proven integral to the company’s mission to innovate its business and continue its positive growth.

Sport Obermeyer’s integrated approach, in which PLM is tightly coupled with other critical systems, is paying big dividends. Benefits that the company has seen so far include streamlined factory collaboration (which allows Sport Obermeyer to communicate with factories instantly during production), as well as faster time to market, improved workflow and more creative, effective product design.

This integrated, boundary-less approach has delivered an ROI in 21 months and improved gross profit margins on components by approximately 14 percent, according to Gregory Bannister, Chief Operating Officer, Sport Obermeyer.

Bannister also believes the systems will be instrumental to further growth. “We feel we can double or quadruple the size of our company with the same manpower with this software, because it allows us to get more productivity out of our current employees,” he says. “This alone gives us a boost in profit and revenue.”

This same type of approach has delivered big benefits for Fashion Avenue Sweater Knits, a leading New York City based importer of quality children’s and women’s apparel for leading retailers like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Belk and Dress Barn.

Prior to implementing software that combined both PLM and SCM into a single system, Fashion Avenue Sweater Knits relied on manual and repetitive processes that made workload control and collaboration a consistent struggle. “Processes were unique to individuals rather than departments or the organization,” said Austin Mallis, Vice President of Operations at Fashion Avenue Sweater Knits. “Workloads could not be managed, and we had no tools to understand where we stood on specific styles or orders.”

Fashion Avenue selected a single, collaborative platform that allowed the company to standardize all PLM and SCM processes and share design information seamlessly with the Shanghai office. The solution has reduced the volume of email and daily information requests by 40 percent; moreover, workflow calendars and exception management tools ensure accountability throughout the design/production process, allowing users to stay on top of current, future and past due deadlines and improving task management. Overall, the integrated solution has greatly improved collaboration as well as task management, while allowing Fashion Avenue to bring its products to market more quickly.

As Mallis says, “PLM and Supply Chain Management are most effective when integrated in an end-to-end process. For us to be successful, we needed software that takes us from start to finish in the product lifecycle, and an integrated solution allows us to do that.”

According to Fashion Avenue Sweater Knits, a boundary-less approach to PLM can help foster a climate of continuous improvement. Mallis believes that it can help break down barriers between departments and set the stage for the organization’s future growth and direction.

And in the final analysis, that’s perhaps the biggest benefit of “PLM Without Boundaries” – providing a platform that will help companies compete more effectively, set aggressive goals for growth, and then put everyone on the same page so those goals can be achieved. PLM Without Boundaries can be the collaborative engine that drives the global fashion enterprise.

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for eight years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like our PLM Project Pack, or our Annual Publications, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.