With the rise and urgency of global sourcing, retailers and brands are increasingly using digital product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions to gain better visibility into their operations and accelerate speed to market, reduce costs and simplify supply chain management.
All valid initiatives, but how can they know how they’re doing? Digital performance goals are a relative target, so benchmarking progress against industry peers and competitors is a smart way to ascertain where one’s company stands, and where it has potential to go.
To that end, business applications company CGS has created a PLM Maturity Curve, detailed in its recently released PLM Maturity Guide. “We spoke to 125 executives in the fashion industry across all departments, asked them to self-assess their operations, then created this curve to give companies insights to where they were in relation to the industry,” said Paul Magel, President Applications Division CGS.
The PLM Maturity Model features five levels of deployment: Ad-Hoc, Departmental, Organizational, Inter-Organizational and Digital Transformation (Long-Term Vision). Moving up the curve not only enables companies to amplify benefits across the extended supply chain, but also to improve their overall competitiveness and profitability.
CGS’ findings revealed that four in 10 companies have deployed PLMs across multiple departments internally (41.1 percent), yet just over one in 10 have expanded their use of PLMs across their supply chain (12.2 percent)
“This fact highlights perhaps the most significant opportunity for improvement and the next step in the PLM journey for many apparel and fashion companies,” says Magel.
While widely used by large companies, a growing number of medium- and small-sized enterprises are seeing the benefits, especially as sustainability, accountability and cross-channel operations increase complexity.
Of course, all companies have different needs and capabilities, but an in-depth assessment of PLM practices, processes and technologies can help a company make an action plan and prioritize ways to get the most significant benefits for their time and money.
A step by step approach
Of course, moving up the maturity curve rungs and achieving a fully functioning enterprise-wide PLM won’t happen overnight; it’s a multi-year journey for any company. It is critical to take a step-by-step approach.
According to CGS’ findings, roughly 50 percent of companies haven’t yet deployed a PLM past the product development department (Level 2). CGS insists that in most cases, it doesn’t require a seismic shift to implement to higher levels and reap the rewards. “By focusing on optimizing business processes and configuring PLM accordingly, you can better manage data and activities across your organization,” says Magel.
In fact, level 3 is where companies can take greater advantage of PLM’s management capabilities—with workflow triggering notifications and alerts, setting expectations and identifying priorities, all crucial drivers for speeding time to market and gaining visibility into potential bottlenecks.
PLM benefits increase exponentially when a company deploys the system across its supply chain, an area of increased and necessary focus.
Level 4 represents a step-change in both business value and PLM return on investment, especially when integrated with a company’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. “Recent improvements in PLM technologies (e.g., cloud platforms), natively integrated PLM/ERP solutions and the trend toward supply chain rationalization have greatly simplified the inter-organizational expansion of PLM,” says Magel.
The critical step onto Level 4 also provides the groundwork for the longer-term vision of achieving full digital transformation (Level 5). While more of a long-term goal at this point, forward-thinkers believe this will be a future industry requirement.
“We have many complex processes in our businesses,” said Vivek Jain, managing director of Jain Group. “With CGS BlueCherry Suite, we will have the ability to manage these more efficiently and effectively to ensure that our focus remains on our growth while continuing to deliver fantastic products and services to our customers.”
Jeff Busse, CFO of Michael Stars, notes that from designer-friendly integrated PLM to robust, integrated planning tools, the company’s changing business requires a seamless solution. “With BlueCherry solutions’ comprehensive features that are essential to current and future needs, and a team with extensive industry knowledge and experience, Michael Stars has found a partner in CGS to help deliver our apparel and accessories from design-to-consumer.”
The software aids the home fashions industry as well. “By implementing CGS BlueCherry, we expect to gain full transparency into the end-to-end process of all the brands that Elrene offers,” said Bryan Siegel, CEO of Elrene Home Fashions. “By choosing a proven solution that many consumer product brands have successfully implemented, we expect BlueCherry to help us streamline the end-to-end supply chain process.”
For more information on how to make CGS’ PLM Maturity Curve Guide work for your company, click here.