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Centric CEO defines PLM as “game changer” for industry
30
Jun '12
For many businesses that design, make or distribute apparel, luxury goods, footwear and consumer goods, product lifecycle management (PLM) software is likely to be a part of its near future—if not already part of day-to-day operations. Still, the question, “What is PLM?” is asked frequently.

To address the “What is PLM?” query, Chris Groves, president and CEO of Centric Software—a provider of PLM software for the apparel, luxury goods and consumer goods markets—explains that many executives now recognize PLM as a “game changer” for the industry.

What is PLM?

PLM broadly defined as the efforts and processes involved in managing a product from inception to end of life, encompasses design, manufacturing and supply chain management. PLM software systems were originally developed for major manufacturing industries such as automotive and aerospace. In recent years, software providers have developed PLM software specifically for the unique needs of apparel, luxury goods and consumer goods makers. Companies in these industries have embraced the systems as best practice.)

PLM replaces the fragmented spreadsheet systems on which many makers of apparel, luxury goods and consumer goods rely, explains Groves. “PLM creates a ‘single version of the truth’ about the product that is accessible to everyone who has a hand in bringing the product to market.”

The resulting accurate flow of information speeds product decision-marking, automates measurement and reporting, and allows companies to manage – cost-effectively – multiple products in multiple seasons, Groves says.

PLM impact

Broad functionality—From design to consumer use, PLM must meet the business process needs of departments across the apparel or consumer goods enterprise, including designers, technical designers, sourcing teams, finance, compliance managers, merchandising, marketing, line planners, quality teams, sales and executives. New mobile apps and digital products, such as catalogs, are linking data from PLM systems directly to buyers and customers.

Collaboration—The apparel, luxury goods and consumer goods markets face collaborative pressures unlike virtually any other markets, Groves says. An apparel maker may need to release thousands of SKUs for each of two, three, four or more seasons per year, compared to high-tech or electronics company that releases five or six new products per year, each with a year-long lifecycle.

“The pressure on apparel makers to collaborate is very high, and requires a very fast and easy-to-use PLM system based on the latest Web 2.0 technologies,” adds Groves. With the right system, people around the office, country and world can work together on the same design, and seamlessly exchange information with the entire supply chain.

Results—“For an industry where a disproportionately high number of products must make it to market per unit of time, time really is money,” Groves says. Rapid product development cycles require a rapid, agile deployment methodology that yields productivity gains in a few weeks, and significant return on investment in a few months.

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