The implementation process represents a critical tipping point in any software implementation project. This is the point when your people actually see the software and start using it. It’s a make-or-break moment for your solution, because user acceptance plays a major role in determining the outcome of new software implementation. You need all of your people not only using a new solution—but using it correctly and as intended.
If you are deploying or replacing an enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), or shop floor control (SFC) system, you want to be sure your users are aware of any advanced features and take advantage of them. You need to know that the solution will support their workflows and your company’s goals. And you need to ensure visibility into how the new system is working after implementation.
Visibility is essential to the attainment of measurable goals. Your system needs to give you not only visibility and data, but actionable information that you can use to evaluate and address business challenges
This article looks at the best practices to achieve your goals with any new fashion industry software implementation, based on our team’s long history in the fashion industry.
1. Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Expectations are one of the most important parts of any project, and this starts with setting goals. If you don’t have specific goals going into a project, it becomes very difficult to evaluate the success of a new software deployment.
For example, if you are implementing a new PLM system because you hope it will “improve efficiency” or help you “get to market faster”—how will that actually happen? Can you identify specific features or capabilities that will enable your people to develop or produce new products faster? Are there reliable metrics you can use to measure your progress and forecast long-term outcomes?
With a specific outcome in mind—for example if you expect a new PLM to enable you reduce the number of samples that needs to made during new product development, or reduce the cost of material waste at your factories—you can measure whether you are achieving your goal.
2. Stay Focused on the Net Gain and on the People Who Drive Toward It
Prepare your team for some change. It is inevitable that they will have to learn new processes to learn a new system. ERP, for example, is a very wide system that has the largest organizational footprint of any software. In an ERP implementation, it’s highly probable that one person or department will have to perform some task or other work that was not part of their prior routine. This is almost invariably an activity that delivers a savings and/or adds significant value in another area. So, implementation of a new system may deliver a net gain to the company but from the siloed perspective of one individual, it may not be perceived as a gain.
A good partner will certainly support your people by building a flexible workflow with flexible deployment. At Exenta, we always take that one step beyond and consider the optimal workflow for not only the larger, overarching goal, but also the specific lower level goals that are necessary to accomplish it. Implementation best practices means you will prioritize the goals and maximize the strengths of the organization.
When practical, you want to have as much flexibility as possible to adapt any new system to the way your people work today. This maximizes the advantages of your technology deployment and reduces the potential for disruption to your operations.
But the biggest gains from a new system will come from workflows and functionality that allow users to manage more business with greater accuracy and less redundant, manual work. This empowers leadership to make faster, more precise decisions supported by a real-time, accurate picture of your business.
3. Ensure Access to Expert Training and IT Support
When you implement a PLM or supply chain system, it’s going to affect your business’ bottom line for years to come. We’re talking about not only the hard cost of the system, but how it affects productivity and profitability over the long term.
You don’t just need a vendor who will sell you a system and then walk away—you need a partner who will work with you to ensure success. After you deploy the system, you want to be certain that your staff will be able to get help fast when they need it. Every second spent trying to troubleshoot a problem or get IT support on the phone represents lost productivity. Time is one of the most valuable resources you have—don’t waste it because your vendor offers inadequate support.
When looking for a new ERP solution, choose a partner with the expertise and willingness to work with your team after the system is live, helping to implement workflows that adapt your business practices to an ever-changing business landscape. The right partner will continually maintain and improve their solution to improve your competitive advantage.
4. Get Real-Time Visibility into Production Status
If you have a problem on the shop floor in one of your factories, you want to know that you have that problem the second it occurs. You also want to know, at the earliest measurable moment, when you are trending toward a problem. Visibility into and notification of a potential issue before it happens means knowing of an issue at the end of the day, not the end of the month. There is a big push across virtually all industries today to move from after-the-fact reporting to real-time visibility. With the fashion cycle getting faster every season, visibility is especially critical in our industry.
How Exenta Applies These Best Practices
Exenta’s ERP, PLM, and SFC solutions are designed to make implementation as seamless as possible for your organization. That said, an ERP implementation is not a walk in the park! Enterprise software implementations are never easy. But, with the Exenta team, new software implementation will always be as painless as possible for your organization. Putting people first is a major part of our philosophy, and our systems are extremely flexible so they can support your workflows without disrupting your daily operations. We’re also committed to working with every customer to ensure they achieve their goals with any new system.
Whenever we begin an implementation process with a client, our top priority is to meet or exceed the needs of the people involved. And, we’ve created our systems to be straightforward and easy to use. Every aspect of the way we deliver our solutions is focused on providing the best experience for all users, whether that’s workers in the supply chain or executive-level decision makers. With every implementation our top priority is to meet or exceed the needs of our clients. Our software is designed to be as intuitive and as easy to use as possible, but we are there every step of the way and provide training as needed.
Whether you are implementing a fashion PLM or other system for the first time, replacing an existing application, or looking for a solution to a specific business problem, Exenta can help. We are focused on the fashion and soft goods industries, so we understand the specific challenges you are facing in the marketplace, and our solutions are designed to meet your needs.
We have lived in and operated fashion and apparel brands, and we understand your business.
Exenta’s solutions help more than 40,000 users around the world work more efficiently, get products to market faster, and do their best work to remain competitive in a challenging, fast-paced marketplace.