Teams at Tom Tailor used to struggle with the demands of administrative data entry and a lack of transparency between disconnected legacy systems for managing product information. Product development was not intuitive, and teams could not access product-related information while in meetings or outside the office.
However, that all changed when Tom Tailor decided to implement Centric Software®’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Today, teams across all departments collaborate from anywhere, in real-time using a transparent, ‘single source of truth’ web-based system. Ideas and product development details are rapidly and easily shared with other divisions, optimizing efficiency across the organization. How did Tom Tailor make the switch from frustrating data entry and discrepancies between legacy systems to an integrated, flexible and faster way of working?
As an international and vertically integrated fashion company, Tom Tailor focuses on fashionable casual wear. Each brand in the Tom Tailor Group has its own clearly defined essence and distinctive character. Yet they all share one overriding goal: providing high quality fashion for the style-conscious whilst giving attractive value for money.
Founded in Hamburg in 1962, the core market of the Tom Tailor Group was traditionally located in Germany but has grown to 30 countries including Austria, Switzerland, South Eastern Europe and Russia. Now, with approximately 3,400 employees, over 640 own-retail stores and 8,585 other points of sale, about one third of the company’s sales are currently generated abroad. Having grown substantially both nationally and internationally in recent years, the focus has turned internally to streamlining strategy, structure and ways of working to optimize profitability and agility throughout the business.
Prior to adopting Centric PLM, Tom Tailor was managing more than 70 different legacy software systems, with key design and development activities divided between them. Critically, none of these legacy systems supported collaboration with either Tom Tailor Sourcing (TTS) or other third-party suppliers.
“With every designer and buyer communicating with external suppliers using emails, if someone was sick or left the company, essential information was lost. So the short-term goals of our PLM project were to consolidate data, enhance transparency across all departments and take back ownership of collaboration with our supply chain,” explains the company’s former Senior Manager of Core Applications.
Management at Tom Tailor also saw PLM as a tool for achieving key strategic objectives like shortening lead times. Tom Tailor began assembling a shortlist of leading PLM suppliers, before consulting with other companies already using PLM. The company particularly wanted a web-based solution that would enable users to work flexibly while traveling or outside the office.
“We made a point to speak with as many real PLM users as possible to get their unspoiled view of working with their chosen vendor. Every Centric Software customer told us they went live on time and on budget and all of them were impressed by the innovative spirit of the company as well as its fashion credentials and commitment to flexibility.” The combination of industry experience, innovative technology and expertise gleaned from previous implementations solidified their choice to work with Centric Software. “We needed a solution with strong fashion foundations, flexible enough to allow us to configure the different processes and best practices we needed.”
Tom Tailor’s Centric PLM project followed the Agile DeploymentSM approach, which prioritizes key processes to deliver value in the shortest possible time.
The project went live on time and on budget, including an intensive testing period and end-user training carried out by a strong Tom Tailor team. From initial point of contact with Centric, Tom Tailor’s denim and casual teams were creating in PLM in less than six months.
“It was a new experience to see users so proud of the system they created. We only had three full-time employees on the project to start, supported by a few people working on the project part-time, but we still adhered exactly to the timeline and budget we agreed.”
A quick implementation was only the beginning. Centric PLM has helped Tom Tailor to both tackle pressing challenges and seize strategic opportunities by improving its design, development and sourcing processes.
“TTS now works extensively in PLM, sharing all essential product data, so we no longer have to send emails around the world to get simple things done.” With this greater mastery of its supply chain, Tom Tailor has also been able to limit its exposure to risk in sourcing operations in Asia.
“We can now report on where a single fabric is being used across all divisions and use that intelligence to better formulate purchase orders and obtain better prices on high volumes from our suppliers. We can also put plans in place for emergencies, so that not all our work is allocated to one region.”
Tom Tailor’s designers are experiencing approximately a 20% improvement in efficiency, enabled by a combination of collaboration, data consolidation and the elimination of manual work. Centric PLM has also allowed Tom Tailor’s IT team to take a step back from first-line support and towards long-term strategy.
“Centric PLM is so intuitive that key users are now able to take ownership of day- to-day operations. Now IT only intervenes for very technical questions, which frees them up to focus more on strategic initiatives, rather than being dedicated to daily incident and request management.”
Centric’s web-based platform is critical for Tom Tailor’s teams to work on the move, and really came into its own in 2020 when users had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2016, Tom Tailor and Centric have built a mutually respectful relationship. Teams at Tom Tailor note that the Centric team is open to ideas, communicative and supportive at all times.
“We’re developing a long-term roadmap, looking at where else we can achieve efficiency savings, raise our gross margins and save time with the help of PLM. I just cannot imagine a world without Centric PLM, today or in the future.”