The Importance of PLM and How To Successfully Implement It In Your Business

Brandon Ginsberg
Brandon Ginsberg
CEO | ApparelMagic

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Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the strategic process of managing a product’s whole journey from the first idea to disposal, including the finished product, its delivery, and its use. To put it another way, PLM refers to the process of managing a product from the start to the end of its lifecycle.

But does your business actually need it? 

Considering the fact that the PLM market is expected to grow to $75.87 billion this year, and taking into account the many benefits PLM offers, we would say that the answer is yes. Product lifecycle management provides data governance and traceability that enables companies to reduce costs, expedite time to market, and achieve the highest levels of quality and compliance, among other things.  

Below, we’re explaining the most important benefits of PLM, along with reasons why PLM software is important to grow your business, how to implement it, and more. 

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Benefits of PLM Implementation 

So, what exactly are the advantages of having a PLM strategy? Find out below the key benefits you should know about:

Increased productivity. Implementing a PLM system helps eliminate time-consuming tasks such as copying data across different systems, double-checking it for inaccuracies, and searching for missing data. Another advantage of PLM is that anyone working on product development or operations is less likely to encounter processing errors and the resulting rework caused by outdated data.

Decreased costs. Product managers can utilize PLM software to see where each phase of a product’s lifecycle is and identify cost-cutting opportunities. Processes are then streamlined or even eliminated, redundancy is reduced, and cost-cutting techniques that don’t compromise quality are implemented, resulting in lowered costs and increased profit. 

Enhanced product quality. Manufacturers can use PLM to automate the processes and procedures required to improve product quality and customer satisfaction. This is especially crucial when teams are dispersed across multiple sites, as quality must not be compromised.

Faster time to market. Did you know that businesses using a product lifecycle management system report a 75% decline in time-to-market? PLM allows for better communication and sharing of data for more collaboration and quicker reaction time. In turn, this leads to shorter cycles, faster product development, and a shorter time-to-market.

Improved innovation. PLM systems enable businesses to boost their innovation without sacrificing their flexibility or agility. Product teams can collaborate to produce the finest solutions and final product designs regardless of their physical location. PLM solutions also allow businesses to secure their intellectual property, ensuring that their drive to innovate continues.

Reduced compliance risks. The ability to maintain a single source of truth for all product data is a fundamental business benefit of PLM. This reduces the possibility of noncompliance. The key benefit here is cost avoidance, as companies realize the cost of product recalls, lost productivity, and legal expenses, among other things, if compliance becomes a problem.

How to Implement PLM 

PLM software can make a huge difference in a retail operation. It can be used in a variety of ways to help businesses manage items from conception to market. However, successful implementation is vital for a PLM system to be as successful as possible for your organization. The following 5 key steps will help you get started with the PLM process. 

  1. Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Buying PLM software and seeing what it can accomplish for your organization isn’t enough. You need to set clear objectives for yourself to achieve using the software. Your goals and objectives will guide the entire implementation project, so be sure to figure out what you want the PLM software to do for your company both now and in the future

  1. Assemble Your Implementation Team

The next step is to put together a diverse team for the PLM implementation. First, in order to build the project and ensure that everyone’s on track, you’ll need a project manager. Second, an IT manager will be required to act as a connection between the software vendor and your organization. To test the software and get feedback, the implementation team should also have a group of end-users consisting of developers, designers, merchandisers, vendor management, procurement staff, etc.

  1. Choose the Best PLM Solution

There is a great number of PLM software providers out there, so choosing the best one to work with is critical. Pick a provider that specializes in software for your sector, for instance, ApparelMagic is a top PLM solution for fashion companies. You should also search for a company that is always upgrading and updating their software, as well as staying current with the latest developments.

  1. Devise a Training Plan

You’ll need a strong training plan in order to ensure successful PLM implementation. Keep in mind that timing is crucial when making your plan. If you train your employees too soon, they might forget everything they’ve learned. On the other hand, PLM adoption will be delayed if you train your staff too late. You should also remember that different people learn in different ways. Some prefer to learn by reading, while others prefer to watch demonstrations, so make sure to provide a choice of training options.

  1. Test and Go Live

All that’s left now is to test the PLM software and go live. Before launching, make sure to perform several simulations to ensure that everything is operating well. Finally, don’t forget to track your progress. Because PLM implementation is generally a costly process, you’ll need to align goals and choose how to measure results.

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Common PLM Implementation Problems and How to Avoid Them

Before you get the many benefits of using a PLM system, you are bound to face some roadblocks. Here are the most common PLM implementation issues and what you can do to prevent them. 

Employees find it hard to stop using Excel

Excel is still the go-to tool for many companies. But while it’s a great tool for simple calculations, it is not the best tool for business data management and collaboration. Getting over Excel and adjusting to a new PLM system might be particularly difficult for some employees. 

In order to persuade project managers in your firm to abandon Excel, you must create a case for cooperation and openness. Point to some situations where Excel has failed, and demonstrate to them how to use your PLM software for better product lifecycle visibility. 

You chose the wrong PLM software

One of the most common problems with PLM implementation is choosing a system that is not the right fit for your company. It happens frequently, usually due to a lack of knowledge or lack of time to compare different PLM solutions. 

Doing the upfront work is crucial because it helps you to establish what matters most. Which workflows are the most popular? What are the most commonly used features? Determine what is most important, and then stay focused on it. Find a middle ground that relates your workflow to your system’s realities.

You’re having trouble balancing between different systems

Once you’ve implemented your PLM software, you might find yourself confused by the different systems your company is using: PLM, ERP, CRM… What is the location where you create and handle the original data? How could the same data be utilized to support other systems, and handled centrally? 

The most important is to have strong integration capabilities and define system responsibilities. Who is responsible for a certain task? Where do BOMs need to be managed? Is it really necessary to use multiple systems? What do you do in each system? In many cases, you will need to make compromises, but don’t try to do everything at once. Having a clear vision and mapping out the system roles is the first step toward achieving that balance between different systems. 

Choose Your PLM Solution 

Choosing the right PLM software will definitely take a significant amount of time and effort on your part – there’s a reason for this. PLM software is a significant investment and the system should serve your organization for many years. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best solution and vendor for your company. 

  • Avoid unnecessary complications and expensive mistakes due to PLM system customization. For instance, a clothing company should opt for apparel PLM software that’s focused on apparel, accessories, footwear, and uniform industries, and a vendor that has resources to maintain a long-term relationship with your organization.
  • Think about the future. A robust PLM system should be able to scale with the company and support its transformation and expansion in the future. In addition, choose a vendor that keeps its PLM software up to date, enhances it and adds new integrations. Keeping your PLM solution optimized will allow your organization to keep up with the evolving fashion industry, its needs, and the latest innovations.
  • Assess the vendor’s reputation and experience accurately. Demos are a good technique to assess a vendor’s compatibility with your firm. Not only will an experienced vendor be prepared to answer all your questions and guide your employees through a demo, but their responses will almost certainly display outstanding knowledge of the products your company offers.

​​The Bottom Line  

PLM’s purpose is to shorten product development time, enhance communication, and capitalize on information. PLM software benefits every department involved in an entire product lifecycle, and while everyone sees the product through their unique lens, everyone has access to the correct information at the right time. Data can be analyzed from numerous aspects utilizing dashboards customized to a specific employee or business profile once it’s been uploaded. These profiles allow you to organize data based on many factors to make it more useful.

By connecting data, business processes, and employees with business systems, PLM software creates an information backbone. It also enables a product’s value to increase over time and improves resource utilization, resulting in increased profitability. The advantages of PLM software are based on cost, quality, and time, all of which are critical for a company’s success and growth.

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