Home Featured The Missed Opportunity for Better Adobe-to-PLM Integration

The Missed Opportunity for Better Adobe-to-PLM Integration


Whether you already have PLM or you’re evaluating the market, in this featured advertorial Matt Forman (Director of EFI Fiery DesignPro) explains why you could be missing an opportunity for better, deeper integration with Adobe® Illustrator® and Photoshop®.

If you’ve already implemented PLM, you might not have given much thought to how fully it integrates with Adobe® Illustrator® since the solution went live. After all, that interface seems to be working out of the box.

Or if you’re in the process of searching for the right PLM partner today, the specifics of Adobe integration probably aren’t top of your shopping list. Because basically every PLM platform comes packaged with a standardised link to Illustrator that should serve anyone.

At least that’s what PLM vendors would like you to think.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you could find that the generic way your PLM platform (or the platforms you’ve shortlisted) plugs into Illustrator only covers the bare minimum. And, crucially, there’s a good chance that a one-size-fits-all integration is falling far short of your meeting your design team’s unique requirements, and restricting rather than enhancing their performance.

In this short article, I want to explain why Adobe to PLM integration deserves to be more than a simple, standardised checkbox in your PLM project. To achieve its full potential, the relationship between Adobe’s tools and PLM should be a project in its own right – entrusted to people who live and breathe design.

What’s wrong with the generic way?

From artwork to colourways, pattern repeats to print preparation, a lot of a product’s identity is set in stone before that product makes its way into PLM. As a result, instead of being a straightforward data interchange that you can set and forget, the link between Adobe and PLM is perhaps the most critical link in the chain that carries your creative team’s original intent through to technical specifications – and on into manufacturing.

Here’s how an off-the-shelf integration might be working against you:

  • Most Adobe Illustrator plugins require a separate license on top of the fee you’re already paying for PLM. And since this is a cost per seat, budget-conscious PLM projects often restrict access to just their key users – leaving others, such as seasonal staff, inputting vital data manually.
  • Paying, in this case, does not get you a tailored solution. Adobe to PLM plugins created by PLM vendors are fixed to fit the fields, processes and workflows already built into their software.
  • By necessity, a generic integration has to fit a standard mould for both usability and data model. In practice, every brand, every retailer, and every design department has their own idiosyncrasies, priorities, and ways of working – as well as their own criteria for what information should automatically be shared between Adobe and PLM.
  • Being standardised, plugins produced by PLM vendors typically go to one of two extremes: they provide fields for only a small set of core product data, or they replicate the entire PLM interface in a nested window. Neither of these is conducive to creatives having the confidence that the full scope of their design intent will make the transition to PLM without manual data entry.
  • Vendor-developed integrations will normally be limited to Adobe Illustrator only, leaving out the detailed artworking processes that happen in Adobe Photoshop®.

All of which is likely to mean that your manufacturers and supply chains partners, when they come to view the tech pack for a particular product, will be working from incomplete information.

Design integration, designed by professionals.

In 2019, the Fiery DesignPro professional services team was approached by a major American retailer to build a different kind of Adobe to PLM integration. The company had purchased PLM, trialled the vendor’s standardised integration – which covered Illustrator only – and determined that it would require its design team to conform to the solution, rather than the other way around.

Working closely with the retailer to understand their requirements, we instead delivered:

  • A complete Adobe to PLM integration, supporting Illustrator and Photoshop in full.
  • A tailored integration to the field level, guaranteeing accuracy and consistency of all mandatory and optional data, and ensuring that everything from supplier references to size ranges, seasons to palettes, made its way from Adobe into PLM automatically.
  • Complete traceability from individual designer to manufacturer, drastically improving collaboration between the retailer’s in-house teams and their supply chain partners.
  • A successful pilot that quickly became a full-scale transformation project, with seamless Adobe to PLM integration rolled out to more than 200 users.

But while this particular integration was bespoke, we have also used the same flexible model to deliver PLM-agnostic integrations for other brands and retailers who were not willing to settle for limited, generic plugins. Today, EFI’s solutions and services are already used by more than 90 companies to populate PLM with the full spectrum of product data – using folder-based methods, full APIs, and everything in between.

Get fired up

In almost all of these cases, the brand or retailer has then gone on to adopt our complete suite of Fiery DesignPro plugins – adding a full complement of design-specific functionality to both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. This includes:

  • Complete support for quick storyboard creation, knits, weaves, complex geometric patterns in and repeats in Illustrator.
  • The ability to rapidly pitch-out colourways, handle detailed, multi-layered artwork, and manage separations and colour reductions in Photoshop.
  • The right workflows to allow users to go straight from concept to digital print – as part of our Textile Premium Suite.

Our software has revolutionised the way these design teams work day-to-day. And at the same time, a tailored Adobe to PLM integration is making sure that the fruits of their labour make it into PLM intact.

So consider taking another look at how the PLM solution you want or have integrates with the full Adobe suite. Because you could be missing an opportunity to forge a much stronger link at this critical stage between initial design and finished product.

To find out more about how EFI is enabling better Adobe-to-PLM integration with its range of affordable, fashion and textile-focused plugins, as well as its expert professional services, visit www.efi.com/designpro or contact us at fiery.designpro@efi.com.

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.