The different product development stages in the fashion industry include Concept, Planning, Design, Development, Sourcing and Production. All these may further include sub processes in them, therefore having the right tools in place to manage these processes and people involved gets important and crucial.
Fashion industry sounds so much fashionable but when it comes to technology it is old school managing people, process and data. Most of the fashion brands and retailers industry start their product management and Bill of Materials (BOM) in Excel spreadsheets because it is well known and flexible application that everyone has and it is easy to use.
But when companies starts growing and releasing more products, managing of data and bill of materials in an excel becomes much bigger and complex.
Below are common problems in Managing Data and Bill of Materials using an Excel
- Difficult to find the latest version of the product information – The most common problem which most of the companies will face is to identifying which file is the latest version. Many time we would have ask questions like which is latest Excel? Who made what changes and when. And most often it is difficult to find the right answer. There is no one version of truth for the product data when companies use excel spread sheets.
- It becomes complex with time – We always like to start with simple things like few columns, simple formulas etc. But the complexity in product development adds additional parameters, and data to manage, then we can hardly manage it at all.
- Difficult in changing and managing data using excel – At the beginning, it all seems so easy to make changes to data. We can send it to any person, add information, delete, manage reports, etc. But as time goes by, nobody remembers about which data is saved where and it gets difficult to touch complex yet important data in these excels. Most organization have an “Excel Manager” on duty just to manage these excels day-in and day-out.
- Higher cost of rework – In the beginning of the Excel journey, it so easy to send an Excel file to colleagues. Just attach it to your mail and you it’s delivered. But as soon as Excel becomes complex such as being connected to other data sources or linked to other Excels, we cannot encapsulate it so easily. Thereby you will have to rework on managing the data in order to be able to share it with the team. So, sometimes sending it via email isn’t so trivial.
- No collaboration between product development teams – Fashion industry is large and it will grow day by day. The fashion companies will release more products, grows internally or add more manufacturing and outsourcing partners. So, the act of managing data and bill of materials in excel becomes much bigger and more complex. Designers have to spend more time in managing Excels. It is said that an organization spend up to 70% of their creative and valuable time to share the product information with the cross functional teams, isn’t that a lot of time.
All of the above problems can be solved using suitable software solution. There is a need for companies to have a collaborated online tool that houses all the product data, manages process and material.
A collaborative tool will enable collaboration between the cross functional teams spread across globe, provide single version of truth, and help the brands and retailers Grow and Scale their business.
Above are just a few of the major reasons why excel spread sheets will not scale your fashion business among many other. Replacing excel spread sheets with a software solution that fits your business needs, will not only save time but also enable releasing products faster to market with higher efficiency.
Additionally, suitable software solution can be seamlessly integrated with your company’s other business systems, be it upstream systems like CAD, 3D Design, Assortment Planning or downstream systems like ERP, CRM, Ecommerce.