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Product Lifecycle Management – More Than Just a PLM Solution

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In today’s increasingly competitive market, speedy product development is inextricably tied to profit.  The retail, footwear and apparel industries are meeting better informed and more empowered consumers every day, and the changing face of fashion means that the right products need to be delivered to more markets than ever before if retailers, brands and manufacturers wish to keep pace.

To retain their edge, companies of all shapes and sizes have turned to PLM solutions, coupling them with a critical examination of their existing processes and trusting in them to optimise their business processes and to help reduce cost and time to market.

At WhichPLM we are PLM evangelists.  We believe that the right solution can streamline the multi-national supply chains, global collaboration and complex processes that have become the norm in our industry.  A PLM solution is no longer a useful tool, but rather a prerequisite to remaining efficient, competitive and profitable in light of the realities of modern business.

It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that we believe in more than just PLM.

The same phenomenal growth that we’ve seen in PLM for our industry in the past decade has been mirrored in the increased size and diversity of the companies that rely on it.  While PLM on the whole is better than ever at supporting the heart of the retail, footwear and apparel industries, even the most comprehensive out-of-the-box solution or the best-tailored bespoke software has its limits.

Where those core product development processes and collaboration that we think of as constituting PLM have grown, so too has the market for software and solutions that cater to what might be referred to as the “limbs” of product development.

These – each no less vital than those core processes – include colour management, design libraries, time management, 3D visualisation suites, mobile applications, thread management to name but a few.  All are, or are becoming, critical parts of any competitive company’s IT investment strategy, and all, we believe, qualify as part of PLM.

It’s by analysing the term itself that we see just how this proliferation of expanded tools and end-to-end solutions fall under the umbrella of PLM.  Product lifecycle management is, by definition, a set of processes, a management methodology and, today, a suite of software that allows companies in a whole range of industries to manage the development of a given product or range of products – from their inception on the drawing board to their eventual arrival on store shelves.

Where design would previously have described a talented artist, a pencil and a lightbox, nowadays it encompasses everything from CAD systems to industrialised drawing libraries like Verve Sketch.

Where delivery to store shelves would once have been a matter for road haulage firms and floor staff, today executives can design, visit and stock virtual shops for their flagship ranges.  The time it took to manufacture that product prior to delivery can be analysed and virtualised in minute detail, and every single component from thread to trim can be tracked and traced to the far corners of the globe.

We believe in PLM, but we believe that it has grown.  This is why WhichPLM is growing, too.

Beginning 1st June, our comprehensive solutions listings will be expanded to reflect the true potential of PLM – as supported and expanded by an ever-growing range of unique, powerful and intuitive software that has earned the label of “expanded PLM”.  And you’ll see from our menu bar that these two listings are accessed on separate pages.  This has been done to clearly demarcate what we term “core PLM” from the software and solutions that expand it.

As a futher example of our commitment to the full suite of expanded PLM software and solutions, GSD’s time management solutions, Enterprise and QUEST, have become the first expanded PLM solutions to be independently evaluated by the WhichPLM team.  The results will be published shortly.

An exclusive interview between our editor, Ben Hanson, and Paul Timson, Managing Director of GSD (one of the longest-established expanded PLM offerings) will also premiere right here on 1st June.

PLM is diversifying rapidly, so stay up to date by following WhichPLM.

Ben Hanson.

Ben Hanson is the Editor of WhichPLM.  Contact him at ben.hanson@pdplimited.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.