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Turning Obstacles into Opportunities: Volcom’s Journey to Centric PLM


Steve Chastain, Head of Global IT at Volcom, talks about challenges at the sports and lifestyle brand that led them to select Centric PLM™, from industry pressures to an over-customized legacy PLM system. Volcom discovered that Centric Software’s solution had evolved to address their most pressing requirements.

Volcom is a global apparel brand, rooted in skate, snow, surf, music and art. We first implemented a PLM solution in 2013, when we began to connect and standardize our global systems. Five or six years later, our legacy PLM required a planned upgrade. We were faced with a decision of upgrading and improving the existing system or looking for another solution that might better fit our business. When we decided to switch to Centric 8 PLM, we knew it was capable of addressing our most significant business challenges.

Pursuing quality and efficiency

At Volcom, we create apparel that is simultaneously durable, sustainable, fashionable and functional. We design, produce and distribute not only top-quality product, but we always have our eyes on innovation. Our desire is to offer a meaningful range of products for consumers. It’s a balance of maintaining high product standards while also keeping up with increasing speed to market. Reducing our lead times is a constant focus. 

Having a robust, efficient PLM system with strong reporting functions helps us to accomplish these goals and to see clearly what works best in the future. 

Our business has grown over the years from primarily wholesale to a multi-channel mix, incorporating branded retail stores, direct sales through partners, and recently a redesigned e-commerce platform and new B2B solution. We are a global digital company so managing and connecting data across these channels and multiple regions requires powerful digital systems.

Facing challenges

Our legacy PLM solution was our first foray into PLM. Unfortunately, as we learned, no tool can fix bad processes. Because our business processes were still maturing, we over-customized the PLM solution to respond to the requests from the business. Oftentimes, we complicated things and customization meant that the changes were difficult to make as they needed to be hard-coded into the system. Attributes were added, but some of them went unused. We didn’t have a process around managing these requests until we formed a change management team about three years ago. 

Another challenge was that our merchandising and design teams weren’t very involved in the original PLM project. The system lacked integration with Adobe Illustrator, so designers were reluctant to engage with PLM. They would create tech packs outside the system, upload them, and then have BOMs entered by other team members. We were wasting resources on data entry that could be spent on more valuable work, and designers weren’t working in the system. 

Embrace the change

Eventually, we reached a point where our legacy PLM system was coming to the end of its life. It was costly and complicated to update. We had a decision to make – should we invest in an upgrade, or switch to a new system? Would it take the same amount of time, money, effort and resources to upgrade as it would to change entirely? 

When we originally selected a PLM vendor in 2013, Centric Software was in the final two contenders. We revisited Centric PLM in 2018, and after some in-depth demo sessions, we made the strategic decision to change. This time, our merchandising and design team owned the project from our side, putting their needs front and center. Full demos of Centric’s Adobe Connect function using actual Volcom tech packs helped to gain our designers’ support. We’ve also had strong input from the pre-production, development and IT teams. Each of these groups are fully committed, and this will help insure a successful implementation. 

We have matured into a global company since we originally selected a PLM solution and we could see that Centric PLM has matured too. Rather than maintain the status quo, Centric has made impressive improvements to their solution over the years and set out a clear roadmap for the future.


We were confident that Centric PLM will address our business challenges, such as improving time to market, connecting data across regions and creating efficiencies in everyday tasks. You can’t imagine how such a simple thing as reducing clicks on each page can save time for users! 

However, we also knew from experience that managing change, even positive change, can be the biggest challenge of all. But at Volcom, people are hungry for this change. Users stop me and say “When are we going live? When is the new PLM launching? We can’t wait.” Now we’re looking forward to seeing what our team and the Centric team can deliver together.