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5 Reasons PLM Will Get You Off The Crazy Train


You’ve heard of PLM but aren’t sure what it’s all about. In fact, you’re wondering if you even have time to figure out what it stands for!

Meanwhile you are creating innovative new products and managing the process using spreadsheets, emails, old systems and other silos of information to keep track of product info. (Anyone out there know a colleague with a secret product info binder stashed under his or her desk? Yeah, that’s what we thought.)

You have deadlines to meet, materials to test, collections to design. Unfortunately, your goals are thwarted by time spent figuring out which spreadsheet version has the most current data. Inevitably errors, delays and stress levels increase. Costs are difficult to control. Products predictably miss market windows. Margins erode.

Queue hair pulling and daydreaming about your next trip to the mountains.

Before we dive in, you may be asking yourself…

What the heck is PLM?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software is your product development equivalent to iTunes for music. Remember the days of creating playlists using a mixture of radio recordings, CDs and mixed tapes? A music juggling nightmare! Likewise, PLM gives you a “single version of the truth” approach to line planning, global sourcing, calendar management, materials management, quality management, collection management, technical design and retail execution. The information your designers are looking at is the same information seen by your design team, product team, sourcing team, executive team, even vendors. (Hint: happy vendors = happy you!)

Just like today’s shoe, jacket or water bottle is vastly different than its 30-year old cousin, PLM has come a long way baby! PLM systems originated to meet the needs of the automobile and aerospace industries designed for complex engineering based products with multiyear lifecycles. (Imagine having that much time!)

For industries where product lifecycles are short and fast, these old PDM/PLM systems are inflexible and miss the mark. Centric PLM™ offers a new generation of PLM designed specifically to manage product lifecycles that are very short—often only months or even weeks long—and fast-paced.

In fact, Centric PLM was designed and developed in partnership with apparel, retail, footwear, outdoor, and consumer goods companies. Win-win!

Your next valid question is likely…

Why should I care about PLM when I’ve got too many other things to think about?

Good question! Here are our top 5 reasons why spending some time considering PLM will save you loads of time (and money) in the end.

1. Business growth

Whether you’re an emerging company or a multi-million-dollar brand, you’re ultimately in the business of growth. More SKUs are added to your line with fewer people to manage it. You’re feeling the squeeze of tighter margins and higher ROI expectations. There isn’t much room for error and scaling your business with offline efforts is near impossible. Yikes. No pressure, right? Using a central source of actionable product data to break the glass ceiling and compete in today’s fierce and innovate retail climate is no longer optional—it’s mandatory.

2. Data madness

Odds are your product team has one way of tracking data while your creative team has another. (Did your product manager add that new item to spreadsheet version 5 or are you on version 6 now? Does your sourcing team have the right colorways for a style or are they pricing the wrong material?) And now you have an email in your inbox from your executive asking for an analytics report…due yesterday. When you’re trying to run a business using independent data silos, the room for human error is mansion-sized. A single source of truth helps eliminate the need to juggle these labor-intensive data sources giving you access to real-time, accurate data. What a concept!

3. Time to market

When you’re juggling a variety of data files and scheduling team meetings to make sure your data is accurate for your next meeting, time is wasted. With PLM, information is shared and deadlines are met so your time to market increases by days or weeks. In fact, our customers experience 2% higher sell through for each week cut from time to market. This saved time results in more products to market faster, i.e. style creation time cut from half a day to 30 minutes and data entry time reduced by days—even weeks. And, while we get tired of hearing the old mantra “time is money,” in this case it’s true. This saved time and money adds up quickly.

4. Team efficiency and happiness!

Imagine decreasing your data errors by 20-30% and reducing product information search time by 30%. This is possible with PLM. It’s unlikely that your headcount budget will grow at the same rate as your SKU count. PLM reduces the amount of time your teams spend on managing spreadsheets and non-value added tasks, freeing up their time to focus on their area of expertise. (Is that a choir of angels I hear?) In fact, Centric Software PLM customers report that they are much happier and less stressed in the workplace.

5. Reduce costs

You obviously don’t need to be convinced that inefficient processes, underutilized employees and missed deadlines are costly, but how much of a difference can PLM really make? Centric Software customers see a 5-10% rise in income, 20-40% reduction in stock, and 10-15% lower logistics costs. That’s some pretty good math.

And these benefits are just the top 5! We’re convinced you’ll find more as you embark on your discovery of PLM. In the meantime, feel free to reach out. Centric has an amazing team of experts who are incredibly knowledgeable (many coming directly from the apparel, footwear and consumer goods industries) and are actually pretty cool to work with.