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WhichPLM: Supporting Tomorrow’s Retail Professionals

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WhichPLM’s Founder and CEO, Mark Harrop, visited the University of Huddersfield on the 2nd & 6th of March 2015 as part of their retail PLM event week. This article discusses this PLM week for our loyal readers. 

Part 1. March 2nd 2015

The University of Huddersfield held a ‘PLM event week’ earlier in March. This week was the culmination of an educational PLM project, organised by Jo Conlon, Senior Lecturer in Fashion & Textiles at the University. WhichPLM was invited to attend and present on two occasions: 2nd March and 6th March.

2nd March began with two powerful presentations from WhichPLM’s Mark Harrop; the first on the “Challenges & Benefits” of implementing a successful PLM solution, and the second, an engaging presentation entitled “The PLM Galaxy”. The latter presentation consisted a 360˚ view of what WhichPLM terms the core processes (of which there are over 50) typically found within a modern PLM solution, delving into the challenges and benefits of each of these processes, including what we term the ‘sub-processes’ within.

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The presentation also examined the many E-PLM (Extended-PLM) solutions that are, today, found within a retailer, brand or manufacturer. I am pleased to state that, from the countless positive reactions, the students were obviously enthused with the contents and delivery. These students are all enrolled on the Buying Management BA (Hons) course at Huddersfield and are getting ready to step into the industry. But, unlike other students on similar courses throughout the nation, will be better armed with in-depth knowledge of PLM, including commonplace pitfalls as well as the path to a successful implementation.

WhichPLM was originally invited (some months ago) into Huddersfield University to help students develop their knowledge and understanding of the opportunities, challenges and benefits of a modern-day PLM solution. Since forming the WhichPLM brand in 2007 education has been the overriding goal of our business and we continue to walk the walk when it comes to supporting the next generation of retail professionals.

Part 2, March 6th 2015

Mark was invited back into the University of Huddersfield for ‘competition day’, held on 6th March. The students had been split into seven groups, each containing three to four members, of both 2nd and 3rd (final) year students.

Each group was tasked with designing and building a range of garments for the George brand (the clothing brand sold at UK Asda stores – Asda being part of the Wal-Mart Group). The garments were to be developed within a PLM solution, beginning at concept and ending with the consumer. This course of action included: trend analysis, themes, mood-boards, storyboards, merchandise planning, technical specification, product costing and accompanying sourcing strategy.

Each team presented their collection(s) and how they had arrived at them, including: the competition brief, supporting investigations and statistics, competitive analysis, market trends and their own in-store investigations. They went on to explain the key findings and features that led them to design and develop their particular collection(s), and their own experiences with using PLM to support the project. This included the challenges they came across when using the process functionalities.

Following this a panel of judges (including Mark Harrop; Jo Conlon; Mark Lyness, UK Regional Manager, PTC and Nicola Tarratt, Business Change Manager, George Clothing) scored each presentation; they gave constructive feedback to each team on the level of material they presented, and the delivery and execution of their pitch. The competition ended, as competitions do, with the highest scorers being declared winners!  This team was made up of final years: Hayley Doherty, Zoe Robinson, Sara Louise Bowring, and second years: Ashleigh King and Jaime Sandelands.

It was extremely rewarding for us to see the students take on-board the points that Mark had made during the previous visit, and to deliver some very high quality presentations as a result. Retailers and brands should take note: the new generation of industry professionals will expect businesses to lead by example. Businesses must possess the solutions required to make a difference and drive value if they are to tempt and keep the finest individuals as employees.

Before this day came to a close, there was the matter of certification. Over the last six months the students have undertaken the WhichPLM Academy courses at Bronze level. We, along with the university, were delighted to confirm that all students exceeded expectations and passed their examinations – with some individuals scoring maximum points. Stella Robson, Kelly Brown, Jaime Sandelands and Lois Elliot achieved 100% in at least two out of the four courses taken. To reward the students, each was presented with their individual WhichPLM Academy certificate.

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Whilst we were truly impressed by the quality delivered and knowledge obtained by every student, compliments must be given to the university. In particular to Jo Conlon, for developing a PLM program based upon the modern PLM marketplace, which at the same time captures the history of PDM, CPM, PLM & E-PLM. This will provide the students the foundations necessary to go into industry and embrace new technologies like PLM.

We are extremely excited to see a university like Huddersfield leading the way in developing one of the first PLM-specific fashion courses. It bodes very well for the not too distant future.

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.