When it comes to buying a PLM solution, the question of whether to choose a large PLM vendor versus a small vendor comes into the decision making process. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it can really depend on your company needs. Even if you’re the size of Nike or Adidas, buying from the large PLM supplier doesn’t always guarantee success as there are many factors to take into consideration. For example, what is it that you want from the PLM solution, specifically, around the challenges you want the solution to help you with. Where, geographically, are you going to deploy and implement the solution? Will you require configuration or go down the route of customization? The list goes on..!
The larger companies (SAP, UGS, MatrixOne, PTC) tend to use generic PLM software serving many industry sectors which has its advantages and disadvantages for the Apparel industry. One advantage is that companies may feel somewhat secure and assured that the larger organizations are going to be there during and after the economic down turn. In theory, you should be able to benefit from the larger R&D spend going into the business and a broader support base, but at times like these that can’t be guaranteed. On the flip side, a concern is that these companies serve many sectors that generate larger sales proportionate to the Apparel industry and you can just imagine where the focus of the company is going and in the vast majority of cases it’s not going to be in the Apparel industry sector.
Software development tends to lag behind smaller more nimble Apparel sector focused companies due to the fact that they have very rigid development schedules that are often linked to other larger sectors that have the say in what’s happing in the R&D departments. On the positive side, some of these larger organizations have developed middleware to help them overcome the problems of being held back in developing the complex needs of the Apparel industry, some have managed this better than others who are still held back by the needs of the larger industry sectors who get first bite of the R&D budget.
The smaller PLM companies have extensive knowledge of the industry processes which helps them to develop specific solutions, more geared to the needs of the Apparel sector and, unlike the larger organizations; they can quickly take a scope/design requirement and turn it around in a matter of months or even weeks. They often create new trends, for example, Zweave now offer their hosted PLM solution focused on the SME (Small Medium Enterprises) companies much like Centric, Gerber, Lectra, Porini, TXT, Lawson, Yunique, Just One Place and others that offer specifically developed solutions.
Implementation with the larger companies tends to take on average somewhere in the order of one year to implement a broad based PLM solution, due mainly to the complexity of the company’s implementation methodology and lack of industry expertise to understand the process requirements.
On the other hand the same broad based PLM solution delivering the same processes tends to implemented in four to five months, and by people that fully understand the Apparel process.
Please free to share your experience in assessing and selecting a PLM solution. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to your feedback.
Mark Harrop is a leading Apparel PLM expert with more than 34 years experience in the industry. Mark co-founded the Product Development Partnership Ltd, the team of experts behind WhichPLM.