A "User-Friendly PLM" for Fashion Designers. Is it an oxymoron or a reality ?

Typically, why do Fashion Designers hate to work on PLM ?

  • They are already overloaded to produce creative designs in a short span of time, leaving them no time to work on any other system than Adobe or Corel.
  • While you will agree with me that in any other industry, esp in Automobiles, Aerospace, where PLM has been the way of life in the New Product Development (NPD) development process, unfortunately in Indian Fashion Brands and Retailers segment, PLM is not quite a big hit. On lighter side, there are some very funny acronyms colloquially developed for PLM like PLM – "Please Leave Me"
  • While it is a hard fact to digest, but there is definitely some weight on these comments. The primary reason being their unresponsiveness, user-unfriendliness which actually insists them to update tasks in a very laborious way, making them feel like glorified data entry operators.
  • Unfortunately, and esp in India, the legacy PLM systems in Fashion Brands and Retailers that have been used by leading brands and retailers were all based on very old technologies, some which were not upgraded since 5 years. It is like using a Nokia 1100 in the times of iPhones and Pixels.
  • Many companies have in-fact added people exclusive for PLM updates and we often see these team of data entry operators updating whats happening in reality onto PLM, often imitating the parallel economy.
  • While PLM could really be a system that Designers should feel like “ I Love to do” or “This is the way to do”; it has become more like “Have to Do” kind of initiative often because of the push from management.

What do Designers want ?

  • Preferably no more systems (yes, it is true, but here pun is intended) - Since this may not be liken by subsequent sections in the value chain, so…
  • User friendly system
  • Smart PLM that doesn’t add more clicks or data entries further to their creative work
  • PLM that can proactively help them to fit to the Range Plan to increase the Adoption Ratio. (Adoption Ratio is a key metric KPI for Designers performance and the industry average is not more than 55%)
  • PLM that helps them keep abreast on the latest fashion trends, collaborate easily with peers – something like office Facebook and official Whatsapp.
  • Finally, a PLM that actually doesn’t insist to enter PLM screens to finish their tasks – Status Updates, Generation of meaningful TechPacks, Costing information on the fly, meaningful BOM generation.

What are key success parameters for Design Team coherence and buy-in for a good PLM ?

A system that helps Designers to improve their

  • Adoption Ratios : Ensuring Option Plan (which is typically on Excel) adherence wrt No. of options created, fitment to Cost Structure, Color Themes etc.
  • Creativity : A PLM that does the web crawling to present latest and relevant fashion trends, competitive intelligence, connect with key store managers, sales and customers, ability to share ideas and manage the Innovation Funnel.
  • No or Reduced Data Entry : Fundamental things like Auto Style Code generation, formatting of tech packs, meta data of BOM.
  • Fast and No Waiting : PLM that is latest on technology, mobile friendly, active and personalised dashboards
  • No more reporting : PLM that can completely take them out of burden to make weekly status reports, yet provide meaningful indicators (both lead and lag) to them as well as to the management.
  • Visual and User Friendly : How easy is it work on the system and handle simple to complex issues like reducing file size / image size / tech pack size to handling a multi category complex garment tech pack.
  • PLM that listens to the market : In the age of Internet of Things and Social Consumer - Ability to integrate with Sales information for Best Sellers and get the product perspective to create styles that can be launched faster and that can be sold at Full Price.

It will be interesting to see how PLM systems for Fashion Industry, esp in India are making this into reality.

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