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PLM Success Starts with the RFP

Going digital can provide greater speed, visibility and efficiency and is top-of-mind for many fashion brands. Yet there is another strategy that has the power to transform your organization:  Selecting the right product lifecycle management (PLM) solution.

Aligning the selection process to your company’s needs is paramount to getting the results you require to compete in today’s demanding environment.

The first step is to focus your search. Assess your requirements and develop a request for proposal (RFP) that will lead you to the right solution.

“While the RFP process can feel complicated and time-consuming, a detailed and well-written RFP will go a long way in helping you find the best vendor partner for your PLM project,” said Tommy See, director of product marketing for CGS.

For maternity and nursing bra intimates brand Bravado Designs, selecting BlueCherry® PLM was easy because Jody Max, the company’s Senior Director Operations, was familiar with the solution from her experience at a previous company. The global intimates brand, which is sold in more than 30 countries and at major retailers, including Target, Walmart Canada and Amazon, offers upwards of 20 styles per season in an array of core and limited-edition colors. To provide consumers with the fit they need, the company creates around 33 SKUs for each cup-and-band style bra. It’s a lot of product to track and assess, which was another leading motivator for using a PLM system. The true task was convincing Bravado Designs’ president and finance team of the benefits of a PLM system—and getting it up and running with the company’s planned ERP installation. This meant that Jody had to outline the areas in which the company could achieve efficiencies.

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“We were looking for a more structured, formalized approach around capturing and managing master data,” said Jody. “Like a lot of other companies, we had most of it contained in multiple Excel documents and versions of things so that was a large part of it. I really wanted to have one version of the truth that everyone would be accessing in one place.”

Jody was also looking for greater efficiencies in communications across the company and with its suppliers. While this move would streamline communications, it would also require a thoughtful approach to current operating procedures and new processes for tech packs and naming conventions.

“In terms of reporting, there was a huge opportunity around how we want to group our styles and be able to report on them and slice and dice that information in multiple ways to understand how different styles are preforming or why,” Jody said.

Tommy See works closely with sales, product and operations teams on reviewing and responding to RFPs. He said, “an ideal PLM RFP should include information on your timeline, your company, your core business strategy, current systems and operations and ideal future operations. With that information, prospective vendors can provide insight into ERP integration, pricing and system requirements. By taking a fresh look at your ‘as-is’ situation, you will not only help vendors focus on your specific needs, but also clarify the specific requirements and importance of achieving your desired ‘to-be’ state.”

The way in which Bravado approached the evaluation of its design, product development and sourcing processes exemplifies the best way to go about creating a valuable RFP.

From there, the work becomes preparing the team—those who will be evaluating the PLM option as well as all internal stakeholders who will be migrating to the new system.

In her case, Jody said discussions began with the Senior Directors of Marketing, Design, Finance and Sales. She said the idea of moving from the current system, which wasn’t user friendly and required a lot of workarounds, to one that provides clean data promoted from the PLM into the ERP was enough to get everyone on board. Once the migration began, she kept her team enthusiastic about the change by constantly reiterating the benefits they’d see once it was fully implemented.

Having gone into the process with a clear understanding of Bravado’s needs and ideal outcomes, Jody said that even though BlueCherry PLM was only just implemented in May and the BlueCherry ERP system in June 2018, her team is already realizing the benefits. “Moving from a manual way of managing that data, there’s a tremendous amount of clean-up work required so a lot of people can see the benefit of that now and they can really trust the data,” she said.

Jody added the company is still in the early days of its ERP and PLM implementation, which will include adding additional functionality and reporting capabilities in later phases. Throughout this process, Bravado has worked with the BlueCherry team from modeling what the outcomes could be through troubleshooting the new systems as they went live. Ultimately, systematically determining your company’s needs, selecting the right system and working with individuals to understand how things will change is important to laying the groundwork for the new system.

“It’s not a static thing; it’s an ongoing assessment,” Jody said. “You’ve spent a lot of time and effort and money on selecting the right system, and that’s what a large part of the optimization is about. Now, let’s make sure it’s working to support the business needs.”

Creating an RFP for your fashion, apparel & footwear PLM project? Get started now and download our 21-page PLM RFP guide.

CGS’s BlueCherry® Enterprise Suite provides clients with a comprehensive set of tools to drive their fundamental business processes. It focuses on the needs of high-growth organizations operating in the consumer lifestyle products, retail and apparel industries. The BlueCherry Enterprise Suite’s built-in capacity addresses the needs of all core management, planning, product development, manufacturing, logistics, finance and sales functions.