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Reap Big Bottom Line Rewards with Game-Changing, Digital Collaboration Tools

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Digital collaboration in the workplace has far-reaching benefits. Here, Centric Software shares how the right digital collaboration tools can improve how your teams create, ideate and make decisions, empowering your brand to get better, more in-demand products to more channels and markets quickly.

Digital, team collaboration is a cornerstone of innovation. It breaks down ideation roadblocks and information silos. Collaboration tools connect teams that share the same office space but are in different departments, bring together teams spread across global locations operating in multiple time zones and enhance communications with external suppliers.

How do you implement new digital collaboration initiatives or improve on current systems? How do you choose solutions that will give you the biggest bang for your buck?

Fashion, retail and consumer goods companies need to be armed with smart innovative solutions to gain more visibility and better control of product development, streamline processes that have a direct impact on their bottom line and drive competitiveness in an accelerating, global and online marketplace. 

Supporting workplace collaboration

In one study, 80% of senior executives agreed that collaboration is essential for revenue growth, but only 25% described their organizations as ‘effective’ in sharing information across boundaries. Collaboration doesn’t just happen. It needs to be facilitated and nurtured. But when it happens, the benefits are enormous. According to another study, social collaboration technology can improve productivity related to information-gathering and communication by up to 35% and can raise overall productivity by up to 25%. 

Choosing the right solution

Choosing the right solution can be a challenge. It’s easy to fall into the trap of using single-function solutions and ending up with a lot of disparate systems and messaging mediums. If your teams are simultaneously sending attachments in emails, participating in discussions on Slack and sharing documents in Dropbox, things will inevitably get missed. 

Many fashion, retail and consumer goods companies are turning towards all-encompassing, integrated enterprise solutions that can handle all of the communication and collaborative work involved in product design and development, and launch in a single digital space, such as a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution. 

PLM solutions provide the backbone for product-related processes from concept to retail. By providing the most up-to-date information in real time, PLM solutions eliminate version control errors and provide a ‘single source of the truth’. Because it contains all product-related data, tracks changes made to that data and empowers interactive communication that is visually linked to the product it refers to in real time, PLM is the ultimate collaborative tool, replacing the mix of emails, Excel spreadsheets, PDF attachments and instant messaging that many companies still rely on. 

Game-changing digital touchscreen technology

However, for a lot of fashion, retail and consumer goods companies, some processes still take place outside traditional PLM solutions such as the earliest phases of design concept planning and ideation to regional, internal buying sessions from the global collection.

Fortunately, the borders of PLM technology continue to expand. Innovative, game-changing, collaboration tools can pull and push data to and from any PLM or PDM system, empowering companies to better collaborate, combine expertise and speed group decision-making.

Empower group decision-making

By replacing processes that traditionally depend on paper and physical boards or combinations of Excel sheets and digital images, decisions can be moved to a fully digitalized, visual experience. Take the pre-PLM process of design ideation. Whether you design and manufacture in-house, use suppliers to create products to your specifications or source finished products, there is likely to be some form of planning meeting where creative team members – artistic directors, designers, product developers, merchandisers and buyers – come together to define early plans and concepts for the latest collection. 

Replacing the physical, paper-based documents created during meetings with digital collaborative touchscreen boards that everyone can contribute to in real time transforms the process of group decision-making. Team members can use master data from PLM or other systems to begin building collections, keeping and discarding ideas, making notes, adding images with a simple drag and drop and taking actionable decisions immediately.

Transform buying sessions and optimize sell-through

Digital collaborative touchscreen boards can be extremely useful for merchandisers and buyers to increases sales opportunities and improve sell-through for wholesale, retail and e-commerce channels. 

Replacing complex systems of comparing and combining Excel sheets, images and PDFs that are time-consuming and generate data errors and version control issues, the right platform provides unparalleled transparency and real-time visibility in an easy to use space – on a tablet or a web browser – that can automatically roll up buying information and requirements for multiple channels.

By giving greater control to buyers and sales for product allocation by channel, region, wholesaler, store etc., not only do you increase the chances of a successful sell-through and a reduced risk of mark-downs but also pre-buy commitments are rolled up to proactively manage Minimum Order Quantities (MOQ), plan pre-production earlier and eventually better negotiate with suppliers. 

Strategy to drive true collaboration

Digitally-connected, visual touchscreen boards are an exciting development in optimizing group decision-making and collaboration beyond the traditional boundaries of PLM or a meeting room or email.

Ultimately, fashion, retail and consumer goods companies need to implement digital collaboration tools strategically to be sure that the technology is flexible enough to mirror your particular way of working and brand DNA.

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Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for over six 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 the Annual Review, 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.