In Part One, of our series on adopting a PLM, we looked at the importance of getting your team on board, understanding who your stakeholders are, how they’ll use the system and involving them early in the process. We also discussed adopting a flexible solution that can expand beyond your current absolute needs and grow to fit your needs in the future.
In Part Two, we’ll look at a key part of the equation: The process of implementation. Your organization’s best intentions in evaluating providers, prepping your team, and striking a good deal, will have little impact in the end, if the implementation process leaves everyone wishing they had never embarked on the process in the first place.
How can you ensure that the process will run smoothly, on-time, on-budget and have everyone singing its praises?
ONE Identify project leads. Both financial and functional. As the process gets underway, at least one person from the organization must be identified as the lead or main communicator with your provider. In many cases, this might need to be a team that includes a technical (IT) and financial (CFO) person. Even adding a lead from development and design makes sense, but most importantly, there should be one overall leader.
TWO Have clarity and sign off on the scope. What is a scope? When it comes to project management, scope involves the gathering of information required to start a project, as well as identifying features needed to meet the requirements of the stakeholders. It is both work-related (referring to the “hows” of a project), as well as product-related (referring to the function or the “whats”). As it relates to footwear and apparel production, it is vitally important to have a clear understanding of the internal workflow and how various teams work together. Also investigate how design communicates with development and what systems will need to be communicated with (i.e. is there an existing materials library? Is it compatible? What about ERP or SAP and how they’ll be tied to the system?). Without taking all parts of the process into consideration, the resulting roll-out, will be riddled with delays, unmet expectations, and highly under-rated budgets.
THREE Have an option for scope expansion. Ever heard of the term “scope creep?” It happens when an initial scope has missed key, or even small requirements that end up resulting in budget-busting changes. Scope expansion, is a term that takes into account, and allows for these inevitable events. It should be part of your initial budgetary discussions with your provider and should be clear in its resolution. Solutions can vary, but should include having a pre-arranged approval process that takes place between you and your provider. Depending on the situation, it may make sense to offer a phased solution so that anything identified (through best-practices), during the initial implementation phase, can be added to a second or third phase.
FOUR Have a portal where documentation can be shared. Whether you use something as simple as Google Docs™ or SmartsheetⓇ, or a full blown project management system, have someplace to house key data and where all involved in the process (see tip #1), can access info.
FIVE Establish testing periods. Part of the initial scope should include testing periods. Whether you choose to work in an Agile environment, working in small 2 week sprints, or some other methodology, you should have established dates to test and make adjustments.
SIX Gain approvals throughout process. Similar to testing periods, the scope should also include established checkpoints where stakeholders can review features, ensuring they’ve been reviewed and approved.
SEVEN Have the difficult conversations early. By far the most important discussions you can have early in the process, are the ones that no one wants to have. Identifying what is not working, realistic conversations about budget, a clear understanding that the process will require additional work and hours from your people, setting expectations of change, are all things that need to be discussed openly. Additionally, your provider should be able to identify challenges in your current process and offer and document best-practices early on. At this point, you should have an established level of trust and be open to suggestions.
To recap, most importantly you should have a plan in place even before implementation begins. This means identifying leads to run the project, establishing a scope with room for expansion, creating a repository for documentation, identify testing timeframes and feature approvals, and having the difficult conversations early.
Adopting a new PLM system can be a daunting process, but handled with care, it can and will go smoothly.
FAN PLM - A Solution that fits
As Internet-based services go, our technology is built with our Apparel, Footwear and Accessory customers in mind. It's built to fit the way they do business, and not the other way around. Brands should expect a seamlessly integrated solution that talks to other systems, communicates effectively, is easy to use and will also grow as technology grows. We've delivered a system built on the latest technology, the same technology that 75% of Fortune 500 companies rely on, and which the banking industry considers the only option.
What is the true cost of the system you either have, or are considering? Will the system work for your company and your way of doing business? Are you changing (or worse, being asked to change) your practices to fit a system? You should be seeking a system that is designed to match your already established way of doing business. If your PLM doesn't fit ... then don't wear it!
FAN PLM understands the real problems that are specific to the footwear and apparel industry.
- We deliver savings by offering in-depth analysis and a higher level of efficiency to the entire process.
- We’ve built our system to deliver maximum functionality to every user type in the chain.
- We offer robust tools and automated workflows for generating XLS, PDF and Powerpoints.
- We keep the data flowing and stakeholders in the know, with a modular event based system that brings intelligent live interaction between pages alerting users of critical field, conditions that need to be met, and criteria-based reminders so that no one misses a beat.
FAN PLM will bring absolute transparency to your entire process of product development, empowering your whole team with the right tools to allow you to communicate effectively, and consistently.