If you’re running a fashion business in 2022, chances are that your work includes handling a dynamic set of processes. If your goal is to design, produce and deliver products, a streamlined product management strategy is the only way to gain a competitive edge against your competitors.
In fact, every successful fashion, apparel and consumer goods company’s backbone is a great PLM software. By definition, a fashion product lifecycle management (PLM) software is a centralized platform that manages the creation, sales and distribution of fashion products.
Beware! A bad PLM can cost you time, money & resources
The benefits of using a PLM software are abundant. It’s powerful impact on business is exactly why finding the best PLM for your business can be a daunting task.
When implemented correctly, a PLM software’s job is to streamline the entire design and development process. But a mismatched or inefficient PLM can cost you millions of in wasted time, money and resources. It will be an overall nightmare for the team.
Just imagine a situation where you’ve bought a PLM software for your business and it doesn’t match your expectations. You would have thrown away a significant amount of money, wasted your team’s time in understanding and using the system, you’re locked in to use it for at least 6 months to a year BUT your business is no better at the end of this ordeal.
This can be an embarrassing situation for any manager and/or business owner. But don’t worry, there is a way to make sure you’re on the right path to choosing a PLM that will make you money, rather than wasting it.
How to find the best fashion PLM software for your business
Here is a step-by-step guide to everything you need to consider before investing in an apparel PLM software:
#1 Evaluate your business needs and problem areas
Before investing your time and money into purchasing a PLM software, take stock of how your business functions. You should understand how teams are spread out, how they collaborate and what challenges they face.
Make a note of where your current processes fall short. For a fashion business, processes like documentation, communication with vendors, raising purchase orders are some of the biggest time killers. A good PLM solution should help you optimize your supply chain for speed, accuracy and minimize loss of profit.
Keep in mind your growth strategy and expansion plan as well. This is important for making sure that you pick a software that won’t become outdated or restrict your workflow as the company grows over time.
#2 Match features and functionalities with your needs
You may be tempted to look for the most affordable option. However, you need to consider whether you will get what you need from that software. You also want to consider your long-term goals and how your PLM software will help you reach them. In other words, think about what features are essential and which are nice to have.
A good PLM system won’t just help you track inventory; it should also help streamline your supply chain and manufacturing process. You should also consider the time factor. How easy is the software to use on a day-to-day basis, and how much support will you receive? Some systems might take extra time to learn but be worth that extra effort in the long run.
#3 Cloud vs on-premise software: pick your winner
Trying to choose between cloud-based and on-premise systems can be confusing because there are many factors to consider, including whether your company already uses one of these systems and whether you want to continue using it or switch over to a new one altogether.
A cloud-based system offers major benefits over an on-premise system, including:
- It’s more affordable – A cloud solution costs less upfront because there’s no need for hardware installation. This makes it more affordable because there’s no need to hire in-house technology staff or IT contractors with specific experience in your industry.
- It’s more flexible – It’s easier to scale up or down depending on your business needs, so you’re never paying for more capacity than you need.
- It helps you stay connected – Cloud technology allows you to work seamlessly online and off, helping you stay better connected with partners and customers around the world.
- It’s always updated – Being connected to the cloud means new updates happen automatically. You don’t have to buy or manually update your systems to the latest version every time the tech is upgraded.
#4 Check user-friendliness and ease of access
Process changes affect the whole organization. The goal of a PLM software is to improve the day-to-day experience of the team. This is why you should consult the executive team and those who will use the PLM to see if the software is agile, intuitive and easy to use.
For fashion users, a good user interface and visual experience may be just as important as the functionalities. Whereas the costing department might need the cost sheets to be organized in a certain way. Keeping everyone in the loop will ensure an easy transition as well.
#5 Seamless onboarding and support are crucial
It can often take a long time to implement the actual PLM software in your company. The onboarding process can take around 5-6 months and requires professional support from the software provider.
The best fashion PLM companies offer full-service packages that include installation and training. Before buying from a software provider, ask the following questions:
- Does this software provider have experience with companies from the fashion industry?
- How much time does it take for the company’s teams to implement the software?
- Will they send someone to help your team learn the software in person?
- What kind of support do they offer? Are they accessible by phone?
- How well does the company provide after-sales service?
#6 Review security standards of the provider
As a fashion PLM software, one of the most important things to consider is that it’s secure. Fashion and apparel companies are especially vulnerable to data theft. Their intellectual property (IP) is everything to their business. They want to make sure that their IP is protected at all costs.
This can be done by checking the company’s security certifications, the years it has been in business and the market image. For example, the WFX fashion software has achieved the ISO 27001 certification which shows that WFX follows the best global practices of information security. For you, this means protection for your most vital assets like employee and client information, brand image and other private data.
#7 Prioritize customizability and personalization
No two businesses have the same needs. So, why should your PLM set-up be a basic out-of-the-box software? Look for a solution that can align with your product cycle and be customized to your business needs.
From the insight and analytics reports to the number of stages in the product cycle, an apparel PLM software needs to be personalized to each business. It should also be flexible and adapt along with the evolution of your company.
#8 Look for ease of integration
No matter the size of your brand, it is likely that you’re already using several software and systems such as NetSuite, ERP or Adobe Illustrator. This mandates that your PLM software should seamlessly integrate with other systems to avoid disruption and duplicity.
For instance, WFX PLM can easily pull and push everything from product data, attributes, images, to costing plans and orders from different systems. You can simply drag and drop Adobe AI files to build Tech Packs. Being the only fashion PLM with a ‘Built for NetSuite’ certified connector, the WFX and NetSuite platforms can talk to each other and stay in sync. For you, this means changes on one platform will automatically get updated on the other.
#9 Use a demo or free trial to your advantage
While I can go on and on about everything to keep in mind, the best way to know if a product is right for you is to test it out yourself. Just like how you would never buy a car without a test drive, you should not buy a PLM software without a demo.
Request a free demo of the WFX Fashion PLM here! Check how easy it is for you to use it in practice, if it has all features that you need, can you personalize it to your needs and more. Try to find answers to your questions before making the final commitment.
Following these steps in your hunt for a fashion PLM will set you on the right path. Once you have made the decision, make sure you evaluate your return on investment. Implementing a PLM should show you visible improvement in speed to market, cost reduction, quality improvement and waste reduction. The benefits of a PLM solution can be measured on the basis of three main criteria: cost reductions, time savings and increased revenue from new or existing products. Choose a product with a proven track record and ask questions wherever you’re unsure!
If you want to learn more about how WFX’s PLM solution can help your business grow, sign up for a demo!