Following up on Part 2 in this series, we continue to look at the keys to success in the apparel industry in the context of how the right combination of ERP system and PLM module can make a difference.
Moving at the speed of fashion:
Add PLM to your Apparel ERP (Part 3 of 6)
Managing costs. Because consumers demand good value for their money, apparel companies must be able to reduce material, product, labor, and procurement costs without compromising quality. This delicate balance can only be achieved through informed decisions—those made with visibility into processes as well as costs—across the product lifecycle. Your ERP system is the key to gaining such visibility.
Synchronizing Global Supply Chains. Apparel is notorious for its complex processes and dynamic supply chains. With multiple products in production, dozens or even hundreds of steps are required, many occurring in parallel. Each step involves numerous teams of people, many of whom are located around the world. An apparel company’s supply chains often span multiple geographic locations, time zones, and cultural barriers—complicating their ability to share ideas or even communicate directly with one another. As a result, delays and errors are often rampant. If a company could synchronize all of the members of its supply chain, it could dramatically improve its adaptability and competitive advantage.
Improving Process Efficiency. Given a complex supply chain, processes are often inefficient. On average, three physical samples are usually required during development. Creating the sample, shipping it to decision makers for approval, and then returning feedback for the next process step is costly and time consuming. Another example of process inefficiency is simple data entry. When different members of the design, development, sourcing, manufacturing and marketing teams must continuously re-enter their data, they waste time and greatly increase the risk of errors, which then must be corrected later in the process— often at a high cost. By saving time and reducing steps, a company can manage costs without compromising quality or innovation.
Supporting Innovation. In fact, innovation is facilitated when members of the teams can collaborate and share current data. Planners can evaluate information from previous collections—from initial planning through retail results—before defining a new collection. Designers can draw on more ideas and experiment with various options to maximize the likelihood of product success. Development can quickly evaluate potential production problems—and avoid them. Apparel companies need to integrate business and creative processes so that decisions can be made based on creative assets as well as on cost attributes.
Given this set of criteria central to success in the apparel industry, what specific attributes should an apparel manufacturer look for in a PLM module? How can such an application help manufacturer reconcile the seemingly incompatible goals of exceeding consumers’ and shareholders’ expectations? First, apparel companies should evaluate possible PLM solutions based on apparel industry needs—not on the generic features designed to satisfy the widest possible range of industries. In Part 4 of this series we’ll begin an examination of the specific criteria to look for.
Continued in Part 4