Adopting a new PLM system for Footwear and Apparel

Part 1: Get Your Team On Board

  • Understand your stakeholders
  • Avoid Surprises, inform your team
  • Identify and itemize process

If you are a footwear or apparel company who recognizes the need for a PLM and are ready to start looking at options, it’s important to look at your implementation from a wholistic viewpoint.

Adopting a new PLM system might be a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. In fact, done correctly, it can, and will go smoothly.

Research and budgetary considerations, will all be part of your process, but beyond the basics, there are a few other things you should consider. In this article, we’ll address one of the most important aspects of a new PLM: The people who will use it.

Adoption by your organization is a key component to a successful PLM roll-out. Multiple stakeholders in different locations, various technology platforms that must work cohesively, and an already established process, all must be considered.

So how do you educate and gain approval by your organization? How do you prepare them for an implementation? How do you ensure that when the system goes live, that everyone not only understands how to use it, but actually will use it? As with any type of technology, the system is only as good as the information that you put into it.

The first step is to understand who your stakeholders are, and how they’ll use the system. This is a crucial part of the discovery process. Different stakeholders will have different needs and not everyone will need access to all parts, so it’s important to clearly outline how each user will use the system. A user’s experience should be customized to their role; greatly reducing time spent sifting through data or areas of the system that are irrelevant to them. Involve users early in the process. Understand what’s working and what’s not. Where are the strengths and weaknesses? Figure out where efforts are being duplicated. The right system should eliminate this, should streamline things and should provide more insight to every aspect of your product development cycle.

Secondly, when it comes to business processes, no one likes surprises. Fear of the unknown can result skepticism, negativity and push-back, so preparing your organization for what’s to come, is another key component to the adoption process. Undoubtedly there will be change, and it should be for the good. Preparing and involving users early in the process, will help ease minds, help in the transition of existing data, and ultimately aid in people relying 100% on the system. People will naturally gravitate to what is easiest to use and what they can trust, so educating them about system benefits (i.e., save time, make better decisions, etc.) will help in the transition.

Be sure to understand if training your users will be part of your roll-out, or if you’ll be asked to hire (and pay for) a third-party integrator? This is often another weak link in the process as well know that too many chefs can spoil the broth. Be sure you understand what will be included before, during and especially after the implementation of a new system.

Lastly, It’s also important to not only identify absolute needs, but also what’s on the wishlist. The system that you choose should offer the ability to add functionality over time. The right system should be able to grow, as your company grows.

One of the reasons that employees will fall back to their old ways of using spreadsheets and other methods is because the system they are being asked to use, does not account for realistic and real-world scenarios. What if you need to add something late in the cycle? what if the material you plan to use, is still being decided upon, but you can move forward on other aspects of the development process? Will you be prohibited from moving things through the system, because something is missing?

The system that you choose should not require you to drastically deviate from your current way of doing business. If you business is growing successfully, you’re process is probably working. While a PLM company that specializes in footwear and apparel, may have some suggested best practices, they should not be forcing you to conform to a rigid process.

A Solution that fits

FAN PLM delivered a system built on the latest technology in the industry. A system that 75% of Fortune 500 companies rely on, and which the banking industry considers the only option. As Internet-based services go, our technology is built with our apparel, footwear and accessory customers in mind. Built to fit the way they do business, and not the other way around. Brands should expect a seamlessly integrated solution that talks to other systems, communicates effectively, is easy to use and will also grow as technology grows.

Ask yourself

What is the true cost of the system you either have, or are considering? Will the system work for your company and your way of doing business? Are you changing (or worse, being asked to change) your practices to fit a system? You should be seeking a system that is designed to match your already established way of doing business. Only you know your business, so if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Fan PLM understands the real problems that are specific to the footwear and apparel industry. We deliver savings by offering in-depth analysis and a higher level of efficiency to the entire process. We’ve built our system to deliver maximum functionality to every user type in the footwear and apparel chain. We offer robust tools and automated workflows for generating XLS, PDF and Powerpoints. We keep the data flowing and stakeholders in the know, with a modular event based system that brings intelligent, real-time interaction between pages to alert users of critical fields, conditions that need to be met, and criteria-based reminders so that no one misses a beat.

FAN PLM will bring absolute transparency to your entire process of product development, empowering your whole team with the right tools to allow you to communicate effectively, and consistently.