Interview with Mr Chris Groves

Face2Face
Mr Chris Groves
Mr Chris Groves
President and CEO
Centric Software
Centric Software

A drift towards relocation of sourcing to cost saving hubs is trend since the advent of quotas free trade. Isn’t it? Crises have fueled it further. What say; will it stop once economy is out of recession?

No, I doubt this trend will ever reverse itself. The world has become “flat” and economies are specializing around their core competencies. Who’s to say but that in another decade or two, the lowest cost supplier hubs may be in yet another corner of Asia, or in Africa, or even in Europe or the Americas?

But I doubt the trend to find and utilize the lowest-cost, best quality suppliers will ever again reverse, especially since the past decade has seen the introduction of technology – like web-based PLM solutions – designed to support the special problems of product design and realization on a global stage. Without the technology, the drawbacks of manual processes – the inefficiencies and the inability to scale – would eventually swamp the system. But the technology that is available today transcends these limitations and enables the processes of global product planning, design, development, and sourcing.

Please explain us the role of PLM in improving organization’s competitive advantage?

Our customers explain it best. Nicolas Thibault is head of the private label products group at INTERSPORT France. He explains, “Budgets will not improve any time soon, yet our goals and targets have increased. The answer is to use enterprise PLM and improve efficiency, to do more with less and improve market position.”

Another customer, Italian ski and sports apparel maker Colmar, puts the choice to invest in PLM in these terms. Colmar’s managing director Giulio Colombo said recently, “The current downturn will subside. Investing now in PLM, sourcing and profitability planning is a strategic move that will enable us to improve our underlying business processes, be more responsive to our consumers, and position us to extend our leadership in our markets.”

Interestingly, when discussing the benefits of a PLM system, both customers note that a quick return on investment and system ease-of-use are high priorities for them.

Change is something that is always constant in our industry, which ultimately reinforces improving or changing a PLM solution to align with the industry's needs. How has Centric worked upon this attribute in its offerings suite?

Our PLM solution, Centric 8, has evolved dramatically since its introduction, and that evolution has been customer driven. Our philosophy is to provide a modular, flexible set of applications that can be easily adapted to changing business processes, without re-implementation. Robust functionality in the product development, sourcing, calendar management and line planning areas were important to our customers, and those capabilities are part of our solution set.

Then, when customers told us they needed tools that would enhance their visibility into how changes in supply costs, currency exchange rates, or customer contract pricing requirements would affect their ability to achieve gross margin targets, we developed those tools and made them part of Centric 8.

Or, when customers alerted us to their impending need for 10 + 2 compliance visibility and management, we developed that capability and folded it into our PLM solution, before the U.S. government began requiring 10 + 2 reporting.

In the fall of 2009, Centric’s first Customer Advisory Board meeting was a tremendous success. Our customers communicated clearly with our executive management and development teams. They helped us understand their priorities and the business issues and trends they see that will affect their future demands on their Centric technology investment.

CSR today has become one of the vital strategies for brand recognition- always strived by companies. Do PLM help companies for planning on this front too?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is immensely important today, and PLM plays a vital role in helping companies monitor and manage their compliance requirements. Monitoring the shifting requirements of Compliance Management is yet another example of how product teams have to do more with less.

Several considerations are key for successful CSR systems. First, the Compliance Management tools must be completely integrated with the rest of product and sourcing information. Second, the Compliance Management has to be extremely easy to use so that both sides of the compliance equation – brand owners and their supplier-partners – can update compliance information readily and without undue burden. Third, Compliance Management should be sufficiently flexible so that users can change their tracking as CSR requirements fluctuate.

Ultimately, the goal of a robust, PLM-based Compliance Management system is to provide brand managers with the visibility to quickly identify potential problems and address those issues before they become social or financial liabilities.

Your industry seems to be setting trend of strategic alliances. Isn’t it? Are there any plans on your card for such strategic alliances?

Very true – our industry is constantly changing and alliances are a hallmark of that change. Centric is focused first and foremost on providing our customers with the technology solutions they need to succeed. If an alliance can contribute to that goal, that’s great! But our focus remains on understanding the needs of the fashion and consumer goods industries and developing solutions to meet those needs and return real benefits, quickly!

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Published on: 15/02/2010

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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