Cloud Technology: rescuing your fashion business from drowning in spreadsheets

14.02.2015 Ben Muis Blog 1 Comment

Every fashion business depends on one key factor – product. Without excellent products no business can succeed, but fashion businesses, above all, fail if their products are ill-designed, badly-constructed or don’t arrive at market on time. These are not the only risks. Margins are shrinking so errors become more costly, and costs themselves must be reduced in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

For any fashion business these competing demands can create headaches and lead to the feeling that you are submerged in an endless round of priority setting and deadline chasing. For creative entrepreneurs this is the ultimate nightmare – unable to do the work they founded their organisation on, they become administrative drones chasing the ever swifter and ever more demanding regime of the fashion world which has seen development seasons increase from four to twelve, and turnaround times halved on the process of getting a garment from original idea to the customer’s hands.

Why fashion businesses struggle

Cloud technology might not seem like the solution to such a varied set of problems, but the one common denominator in many of the problems experienced by small to medium sized fashion businesses is administrative drag. Whilst the first reaction is often to reduce the big costs, perhaps by laying off individuals or by moving them to part time work, this is generally counterproductive. Not only will your best talent move on, aware that you’re not able to service your workforce in the way they’d wish, but you’ll demoralise the rest of your team who will become aware of the exodus of highly talented individuals and will find themselves trying to create more product with fewer people and less intrinsic support. This can have a reputational effect on the organisation which persists long after it may have recovered from the original difficulties.

Time-wasting and overhead reduction are also ways to reduce your costs, and this is where fashion, in particular, has tough lessons to learn. Unlike other creative industries which have moved rapidly to new technologies – music for example – the fashion world has largely stuck to its traditional administrative processes. This means that some of the fastest-moving and most demanding product areas are being created and managed using cumbersome and outdated mechanisms.

This can be defined as ‘spreadsheet tyranny’ it leaves creatives pushing paper rather than using their talents to grow their businesses. It deprives excellent administrators of the chance to cut costs and streamline systems because they must work at the rate of the slowest. It offers increasing opportunities for error and failure as the proliferation of spreadsheets increases the risk of divergence in versions used for production.

PLM offers a revolution in managing fashion enterprises

Product lifecycle management software is one way to cut through the ever increasing turmoil of spreadsheet management. PLM systems based in the Cloud give fashion businesses the opportunity to streamline processes and cut costs, as well as helping them develop more robust administration. Here’s how:

  • Lower costs – Cloud based PLM offers an online subscription payment process; no upfront fees, no capital investment, and no in-house IT team to keep on top of the process
  • Swifter processes – a shared central infrastructure is quicker than a cumbersome spreadsheet process, it gets refined and updated regularly based on customer feedback so it’s ever faster and increasingly responsive and intuitive to use.
  • Centralised information – PLM unites calendars and spreadsheets, costings, orders, approval forms and deadlines to name just a few. All this information is held in the Cloud and updated across your business as soon as changes are made, so there are no information lags and no failed communications
  • Risk reduction – as PLM integrates the whole process of creation, production and distribution, and updates each area almost instantaneously, there is much less scope for one part of the organisation to fail to recognise changes or to be working on an outdated concept, deadline or production schedule. Errors are naturally reduced and questions about process are easily asked and answered so the whole system does not get suspended whilst clarification is sought.

Next steps in finding the best Cloud-based PLM for your fashion business

If moving to Cloud-based PLM is starting to look like the best way to get your head above water, we agree!

But not all PLM systems are the same, and identifying the best tools for your business and finding the most effective Cloud-based PLM for you should not be a gamble. Why not contact us today to explore how our fashion-focused PLM has been specifically designed to support fashion enterprises to meet their goals?

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