E-PLM: Extending the Role of Traditional PLM

April 6, 2012

By Kilara Le

In the first instalment of a brand-new series, business process expert Kilara Le examines the place of Core PLM in the product lifecycle, and looks at how integration with a growing number of supporting solutions (those that we describe as E-PLM, and that take in everything from CAD/CAM to merchandise planning) has become such a vital part of many implementations.

Extending the capabilities of PLM (or Product Lifecycle Management) by connecting it with other business systems has become essential to effectively managing, analysing and reporting on the whole product development lifecycle. Ours is a visual industry adapting hourly to global trends, situations, and the multiple vendors affected by them. Because of this, we need to be able to “see” where we are and what is really going on, in order to react quickly, create beauty from this chaos, and still manage to remain focused on the bottom line.

In the last 10 years, PLM systems have become an indispensible business tool for managing product development across the apparel industry. Traditionally PLM has been defined as starting with a product concept or sketch and ending with a “handoff” to an ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, system once approved for production. A PLM system would traditionally be responsible for also tracking the product through steps in a defined workflow in between. The problem is that product development and internal processes are rarely so simple and linear, and software is rarely as adaptable and visually oriented as the people who use it.

Amongst the many providers of PLM in the retail, footwear and apparel industry there are a plethora of options ranging from “out of the box” configurations that can be up and running within a few months, to completely customized solutions that can take years to implement fully. Some vendors offer all system functionality as a single package and others offer modules to phase functionality. Both, depending on business needs and allocated budget, can be equally viable options. The key concept is defining “business needs” and analyzing what they truly are, both at present time and anticipating what they will or will likely be in order to meet future corporate goals. This is an essential part of identifying the right PLM vendor for any organization, but also a catalyst for discussions about what other business systems or software need to be purchased or integrated with that core PLM solution in order to truly facilitate management of the organisation’s whole product lifecycle. Those systems and software are becoming collectively known as E-PLM......

Read the remainder of the article on the WhichPLM website by clicking the link: