Data is the king of every apparel & fashion business. Companies should implement smart strategies to manage and leverage data. If data management is not done properly, then companies will face difficulties in providing consistent services and reduced productivity, and the data may fall into the wrong hands.  

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a production workflow solution that centralizes product data and provides 360-degree visibility of product creativity, design, development, production, and vendor collaboration. The benefits offered by PLM are attractive as it offers accelerated time to market, better product quality, efficient collaboration, and faster deliveries. But before implementing the PLM solution, brands & retailers need to be careful about the mistakes they may make.  

In this article, we described the 6 PLM Implementation mistakes that brands & retailers make. 

PLM Implementation Mistakes

1. Not defining the objectives & goals

There is no one-size-fits-all. Brands & retailers need to review what they’re doing and how it can be different with the new system in place. They need to figure out who are the people inside and outside the organization will be impacted by the changes to the processes. The goals and objectives include:  

  • Need for better accessibility through centralized product data.  
  • Eliminating duplicate content and standardizing BOM. 
  • Transforming from a paper-based process to an automated process.  
  • Binding product data to another system.  

Determining the objectives and goals will provide a clear picture of prioritizing the goals. This analysis will help brands & retailers define their PLM requirements and plan the upgrades and improvements to enhance the work environment. Defining the objectives and goals clearly will help brands & retailers determine the success of PLM implementation. 

2. Setting unrealistic deadlines 

Brands & retailers fail to work as per the project plan and do not assign it to the right project lead in the organization. Companies need to set appropriate milestones with deadlines for efficient implementation of the PLM system. Businesses need to choose a person from the organization and from the PLM vendor who can answer any implementation-related questions. Having all the above terms in place will help brands & retailers stay on track for a successful PLM implementation.

3. Not implementing PLM across the entire value chain

Apparel & Fashion businesses should not start implementing the PLM project in headquarters and various departments without figuring out how the vendors will use it and benefit from the implementation. Doing so will lead to unforeseen challenges in the project. Instead, the businesses should start their implementation journey across the entire value chain. It is necessary to get early buy-in from everybody involved in the product’s lifecycle, from early trend analysis to the eventual sale to the customer. 

4. PLM is not future-ready

Brands & retailers will be bound by the limitations of using PLM for data management. In fact, the PLM extends beyond the boundaries of an innovation platform. They need to think out of the box to implement a PLM solution that adapts to the advanced features of 3D. PLM should be capable enough to handle the new processes implemented in 3D.  

5. Not prioritizing end-to-end sustainability processes

PLM reduces the environmental impact of apparel & fashion on the planet. Project teams do not prioritize sustainability and do not put the modules at the center front of their projects. Brands & retailers are slow in taking sustainability seriously. They need to move beyond the selection of sustainable materials into how to process the products. They should also include sustainability scoring in the bill of materials, trims, components, yarns, and threads. Brands and retailers should also include sustainability in the bill of labor which leads to a fair living wage for those machinists and operators working to supply the finished products.

6. Failure to train people early

Change Management in Apparel and Fashion industry has its own challenges. With PLM Implementation, stakeholders and the management teams should always be on the same page. A higher focus is required by senior management to make it a successful implementation. Implementing PLM may be exciting, but the same enthusiasm is not seen by everyone working on the project. A part of the project team is usually not convinced because of mistrust, lack of confidence, fear of failure, and unrealistic timelines. It’s the responsibility of the senior management to train the employees frequently on what is coming up in terms of the new processes involved.   

Bottom Line 

The cost of PLM Implementation Mistakes will be high. A successful PLM implementation will promote the growth of the organization. Businesses can expand their product line by training employees well in advance and ensuring that the entire organization is on the same page. A step-by-step approach to PLM implementation will help brands & retailers streamline their business processes. 


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