The fashion sector must drop its reliance on outdated software and manual processes to move rapidly into total Digital Transformation if it wants to survive and thrive in a post Covid-19 era. To meet these requirements, fashion companies must embrace the new opportunities and perform a paradigm shift to go digital from end to end. Processes at every step in the supply chain eco-system will be affected.
Gone are the days of waiting for physical product samples, hopping an airplane for factory quality checks, and spending excessive time and money requesting product cost quotations or raising a Purchase Order. Today, it’s all about streamlining—not to mention integrating systems to avoid errors, wasted time and process redundancies. But while many fashion companies have already invested in a form of ‘digitization’ and deployed PLM solutions, they don’t always go far enough.
“Digital transformation does not mean creating a PDF tech pack/product specification and emailing it to vendors/partners,” said Colin Marks, CEO at DeSL. “PDF data is not normally usable outside its own context, and data such as product specifications are liable to frequent changes. This means people must remember to re-send emails with updated versions and vendors must manually track changes to ensure they have the latest version. The room for error and re-work is vast and a huge time commitment.”
According to DeSL, the key attributes of a digital transformation strategy will include:
Improved real-time workflows; 100% accurate data where changes are automatically pushed to all interested parties; automatic workflows that require little to no human intervention; automated mundane tasks that enable staff to focus on key activities; virtualization of physical assets previously required to make decisions (think: product selection and sampling); improved decision making based on real data and insights backed up by machine learning/artificial intelligence; increased company agility and the ability to rapidly change based on market conditions; the ability to collaborate more effectively inside the company and outside with customers and suppliers; integration of key data into manufacturing equipment or vendor systems.
It is for the reasons above that DeSL recommends companies integrate their PLM and PO management solutions.
“During the product development processes in PLM, there is a huge amount of data collected, such as product specifications and costings etc., with many decisions and agreements made during this stage,” said Marks. “Without tight integration between the PLM and PO Management solutions, all of this key data is effectively lost once the development team hands over to the procurement teams.”
There are also pitfalls for companies to create POs in their ERP solutions instead of their PLM.
Traditional ERP systems just have a PO start and end date with nothing in terms of tracking and performance management in between. This doesn’t allow companies to fully collaborate with their vendors to spot potential issues early in the supply chain, before they become real problems.
However, a product’s critical path starts in the development process and generally a PO is raised very soon after a vendor has been selected, and tech pack and costs agreed upon. “Having a real-time, cloud-based platform that enables the procurement critical path to be automatically initiated at the end of the development critical path is a huge time saver,” said Marks, adding efficiency for all suppliers, whether they be factories or mills. “All decisions and agreements are available for interested parties to review, changes are automatically notified to all members of the supply chain and the critical path element ensure that everyone knows what has to be done and when.”
This automates and simplifies the supply chain, giving visibility of purchase orders and tech packs in real time. Each step is tracked along the critical path, eliminating unknowns and granting brands and vendors understanding of how their deliverables and deadlines are progressing in one place.
An integrated, collaborative system also improves KPIs on current and future projects, allowing all involved parties to see key data being captured and analyzed easily. This adds value to vendors as they can see their critical paths, priorities, agreed product specifications and standards as well as a central repository to see all agreed actions and decisions.
Helping companies of all sizes
Small-Medium Businesses (SMB) play an essential role in the fashion industry and need powerful digital software to scale up. Often times they actually need more functionality than larger companies with bigger IT budgets, so providing PO Management along with PLM is valuable to them. DeSL provides out of the box, pre-configured software that can be remotely implemented. DeSL clients agree.
“The major benefit of having PLM and PO Management both in DeSL is that it allows us to track product from initial design to delivery all within one system,” said James Neumann, CEO and Founder of Tank Stream Design. “Each user views real-time data so our team is in sync and more efficient. Our supply chain has real time access to review and respond directly in DeSL, keeping us all updated with progress and logistics on each purchase order. And probably most importantly, the digital purchase order is tied back to the original confirmed tech pack, critical path and costing. This benefits us and our suppliers by accelerating accurate decision making and allowing us to predict issues before they become problems.”
Bortex Global Ltd., a large manufacturer of men’s tailored clothing based in Malta, has also used DeSL’s platform to ease its expansion into manufacturing, private label production and wholesale.
“A single platform for PLM and Purchase Orders streamlines our internal processes and our vendor collaboration,” stated Sam Borg, chief operating officer at Bortex. “Not only do we generate PO’s for finished products, but we also generate PO’s for the raw materials required to satisfy the product orders. Our product POs are consolidated with the tech packs providing a centralized place for supplier quotes and communication. Our development specifications, agreed costing, logistics, and quality details are all in one solution. Each step is able to be tracked through the critical path. This ensures that deliveries are met as agreed. It accelerates our entire development process through to delivery with real time visibility on purchase order progress, which are linked to activities in the critical path. The communication between the development team and factories has improved dramatically, and this has definitely reduced errors.”
To learn how DeSL can help your company integrate its PLM and PO Management, click here.