Key Considerations in Choosing Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software

Key Considerations in Choosing Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software

Digital consumers demand a lot from their favorite brands—more innovative products, greater customization, and faster delivery to market. The right Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software can make the difference between generating viral demand and product buzz—or delivering stale fashion after the popular wave has crested.

Today’s modern PLM solutions deliver powerful benefits to apparel and soft goods brands
Product Lifecycle Management software empowers global fashion and soft goods brands to enhance collaboration and creativity to elevate the quality of product designs. PLM also enables easier collaboration with vendors and suppliers to improve supply chain management. It delivers greater visibility and control throughout the product lifecycle, improving speed to market. In all of these ways, PLM can help brands improve their profit margins.

While some of the largest apparel manufacturers already use PLM software, many brands are hobbled by outdated legacy systems that don’t do much to help them compete. That’s why the overall market for replacing PLM grew by 8% over the last year.

7 questions to ask when choosing a Product Lifecycle Management solution
The best PLM software solutions are highly usable, easily adopted by your employees, and offer a rapid return on investment. Here are seven questions to help you assess your options:

1. Is it easy to learn? Any new business software platform needs to add efficiency rather than cause business disruption. So a new PLM will need to be very easy for your employees to learn to use. If the software is not intuitive, it will cause frustration and fail to deliver intended benefits to your organization.

“When I trained the designers here, it took about one day, maybe two hours of serious training with them. We did a webinar and it was so easy for them to use. They learned [PLM REVO™] in about that time, and they were off and running.” – Julie Keller, Krazy Kat Sportwear

2. Will it improve organizational efficiency? PLM puts information at your fingertips, so your team can more easily share designs, collaborate on ideas, and analyze outcomes. It should be easy to search for prior designs and adapt them within new product ideas. Communication and messaging tools throughout the PLM system should facilitate real-time commenting and notifications.

“It’s been so much easier to use this program than our other PLMs… It’s just a very simple speedy program. The navigation is clear, it’s not hard to use, and it’s fast… You can find things quickly, and any kind of speed you can add to your job, it just makes everything easier. Especially with a business like ours, time is of the essence.” – Julie Keller, Krazy Kat Sportwear

3. Does it enable global collaboration? Cloud-based PLM software can streamline approvals, changes, vendor quotes and bids, compliance and other global processes. Mobile capabilities enable users to access and analyze information from any location. Real-time information and analytics will keep members of a global team on the same page.

4. Will the interface design encourage adoption? If you want designers to use PLM software, it needs a user interface with clean, visually pleasing design elements. To help your team create innovative products, it’s important to provide the tools and workspaces that help designers tap into their creativity.

“The look of the program is so visually pleasing, and something like that—for a creative type—it’s really important. When you see something that looks clear, it’s uncluttered, and you can see your designs in big, beautiful format… You’ve got your sketches big on the screen, and it’s just very simple to use.” – Julie Keller, Krazy Kat Sportwear

5. Does it work with preferred design tools? Your designers will want to be able to flow back and forth between PLM and preferred design tools effortlessly. For example, Exenta PLM REVO™ Design Plug-in for Adobe® Illustrator® enables designers to launch new concepts, contribute to and use information from PLM without ever leaving their design software.

6. Will it speed up your time-to-market? Typically it takes eight to ten months to develop a product from concept to production. PLM should speed that up by helping designers and product managers spend more time creating new products and minimizing tedious data entry. By automating time-consuming processes, PLM helps ensure the timely delivery of on-trend products.

“With PLM REVO, you can just quickly copy some things so fast, get the specs in quickly. It makes the whole process so much easier, and we did that literally in the amount of five minutes. We’ve made a whole new style from one other style. And it was quick, and easy, and functioned well.” – Julie Keller, Krazy Kat Sportwear

7. Does it integrate with ERP? If you don’t use ERP in your business, then you’ll need a PLM that can stand alone. But if you already have ERP or your future technology plans call for adding ERP, make sure the PLM you choose will be able to be easily integrated.

Is it time for a PLM revolution in your business?
Exenta PLM REVO is a next-generation PLM that delivers the simplest path from concept to customer for apparel and soft goods brands. This easy-to-use platform features functionality to help brands improve: Communication, Design, Tech Pack Development, Line & Seasonal Management, Material & Sample Tracking, and Sourcing & Costing.

Whether you are looking for your first PLM fashion software or seeking to upgrade from a legacy PLM to experience more benefits, our Exenta team stands ready to help you.

Watch the video below to hear PLM REVO product manager, Nikole Davis, Exenta CTO, Ken Fearnley, and one of our customers, describe why PLM REVO is an evolution in PLM software. Or, contact us today for a demo to see how it helps brands design their best products and bring them to market more quickly.

1 WhichPLM Buyer’s Guide, 2019.

Could Your Legacy ERP Be THE One Thing Standing Between Your Organization and Your Goals?

Could Your Legacy ERP Be THE One Thing Standing Between Your Organization and Your Goals?

As the centralized system of record for sales, accounting, production, supply chain, workforce and business intelligence, everything your ERP system manages is mission critical. The right ERP should help your company drive business goals for growth, workforce productivity, profitability, and customer relationships—not impede those goals.

Apparel and soft goods manufacturers relying on legacy ERP face greater risks
It’s no secret that fashion is a rapidly moving and highly competitive industry. In a perfect world, with all of the business data you need and exceptional insight, you’d still have to work hard to read the marketplace and stay ahead of competitors. But with a legacy ERP system as the hub of business, the world is far from perfect. Many legacy ERP systems don’t deliver the necessary data and insight to optimize the business, leading to more business risks, including:

1. Lack of real-time data – Most legacy ERP systems can’t deliver real-time data, especially if your business has international operations or multiple locations. Instead of looking at what is going on in your business right now around the world, you will be presented with backward-looking monthly reports.

2. Isolated data streams – Integrating an application into a legacy ERP system requires extensive programming knowledge to build a proprietary link. Every time you have to install an updated version of your ERP, there’s a chance the integration will break. For this reason, many businesses operate their legacy ERP system without integration into essential applications such as Shop Floor Control (SFC), Warehouse Management (WM) or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Isolated data streams prevent consolidated reporting that executives need.

3. Limited reporting for data analysis – The reporting tools inside legacy ERP systems are less robust and less easy to use than today’s business intelligence technology. Legacy database structures didn’t allow for slicing and dicing data as well as modern solutions, and the legacy tools weren’t designed to provide a 30,000 foot view while allowing you to rapidly drill down into granular detail.

4. Spreadsheets and manual data manipulation – Lacking the reporting needed from the legacy ERP system, many professionals turn to spreadsheets. There they try to integrate disparate data streams and manually manipulate the data into a more usable format for decision-making. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to make data entry errors, mistranslate data, or set up incorrect calculations.

5. Strategic gridlock – When executives don’t have enough information to confidently make decisions about the business, one possible outcome is strategic gridlock. The C-suite constantly needs to reach back out to sales, finance and accounting, and operations to request more information. Competitors move forward with strategic initiatives, while you’re stuck at the drawing board.

6. Less informed decision making – As a direct consequence of being frustrated by a lack of real-time information and analysis, some business leaders will simply try to make the best decision they can with the data they’ve got. That is not necessarily the wrong approach, but in today’s rapidly-changing business environment, going down the wrong road—even for a short time—can have disastrous business consequences.

With so many challenges, why do organizations hold onto their legacy systems?
People don’t like to change, and a big change to a mission-critical system like ERP causes more fear and indecision than smaller software adoptions. Even though spreadsheets and manual data manipulation are terribly inefficient and often lead to inaccurate information, it can be hard to let go of a process you have trusted.

Modern, fully-integrated ERP systems open new opportunities
Modernizing the ERP creates big opportunities for improvement within apparel and fashion organizations. Having real-time, reliable information at your fingertips enables your team to spend less time messing with spreadsheets and looking for emails. Instead, they can dive into timely data in order to:
• Discover new insights about demand patterns and customer preferences
• Become a better supply chain partner to suppliers, distributors and retailers
• Develop better products and bring them to market more quickly
• Identify workflow improvements that boost manufacturing efficiency
• Increase on-time order deliveries
• Control production costs and improve workforce utilization

Move legacy ERP out of the way and advance your business goals
Exenta can help you revolutionize your business by providing real time visibility across every aspect of your business—from design to delivery. From concept to cash, we give apparel and soft goods executives the tools to understand everything going on in the business, so they can make faster, better decisions that result in reduced cycle times, unprecedented efficiency gains, and increased profitability. This leads to better partnerships and happier employees—two keys to long-term business success.

Exenta ERP was purpose-built for the fashion and apparel industry, with 700 years of combined experience and apparel-specific expertise supporting its continuous development. Built on next-generation technology, Exenta ERP is a single fully integrated system that gives apparel manufacturers the ability to customize for industry-specific workflows and criteria such as style, color, label, pre-pack and size. To hear how Exenta ERP helped RG Barry Corporation increase productivity and profitability, watch this PLM video. Or, contact us today for a demo and learn how Exenta ERP can transform your manufacturing operations.

6 Ways You Can Profit from a New Shop Floor Control System

6 Ways You Can Profit from a New Shop Floor Control System

To increase profitability, manufacturers need to produce a greater quantity of merchandise at high levels of quality and efficiency, at a speed that delivers product to market before consumer tastes change. Although it is an increasingly digital world, the majority of apparel, soft goods and home furnishings manufacturers rely on outdated production tracking methods. Some still use pencil and paper. Others record work in progress with gum sheets in a production book and transfer that data into a legacy software system or an Excel spreadsheet at the end of shift.

Six Ways to Benefit by Automating Shop Floor Control
Shop Floor Control software is designed to track the progress of production throughout a sewing operation. Running across multiple platforms and devices, Shop Floor Control allows supervisors, managers and workers to receive real-time information and notifications regarding work in progress (WIP).

With real-time tracking of manufacturing operations, manufacturers can make changes more quickly to optimize efficiency and quality. Here are six ways that Shop Floor Control makes a positive impact that can directly contribute to improved profitability.

1. Increase Productivity and Efficiency
Implementing Shop Floor Control creates a more productive environment that yields greater operational efficiencies all through the production process. These efficiencies include real-time planning and scheduling, instant document delivery, scanning, facial recognition time tracking, quality control tools, real time alerts to machine issues and more.

Gum sheets get replaced with real-time scanning and tracking. Employees gain immediate access to job information, so they can keep working without waiting. Managers get up-to-the-minute reporting about quality, employee performance and labor costs.

Most companies enjoy rapid productivity gains of 10-15% after deploying Shop Floor Control software. When they elect to Include incentive pay and gains can exceed over 30%! Over time, Shop Floor Control generates operational improvements that lead to even greater productivity gains. For example, worker performance data may prompt better incentive pay design. Long-term productivity improvements of 25-40% are not unusual with Shop Floor Control.

2. Reduce Throughput Time
Bottlenecks slow down throughput either by slowing production or causing more rejected pieces. Without Shop Floor Control, production managers try to spot bottlenecks visually and then figure out how to resolve them—without the benefit of in-depth production data analysis.

Shop Floor Control captures the information needed to identify bottlenecks sooner and determine root causes. Whether poor line balancing, outdated equipment or inaccurate forecasting has created bottlenecks, Shop Floor Control helps management make more informed decisions to improve throughput.

3. Gain Greater Visibility and Control
Shop Floor Control measures performance of work teams as well as individual operators, providing constant feedback to production managers about what employees are doing. Management can use this information to fine-tune incentive pay structure and to optimize machine and employee utilization.

Employees also benefit from being able to see instructions, videos or pictures of products they’re assembling. They can notify the maintenance team when equipment malfunctions or notify a supervisor immediately if they need help.

4. Control Costs and Quality
Shop Floor Control helps workers and supervisors keep close track of quality control with real-time data about defects and repairs. When manufacturers use this data to improve their quality processes, it will result in fewer repairs and reworking as well as less scrap. If you can repair less, you can produce less, and that controls labor and materials costs, improves customer satisfaction with orders and supports profitability.

5. Reduce Absenteeism
When employees don’t come to work, workflow issues can lead to production loss. A Shop Floor Control system reduces absenteeism by giving managers access to real-time time and attendance information. Reviewing patterns of absenteeism can help identify employees who do not meet attendance expectations. They can see if certain stations or lines are overburdened by too few workers or too many temporary workers. Shop Floor Control information can also reveal areas where cross-training operators could result in improved coverage of a station when workers are absent.

6. Minimize Off-Standard Time
When operators are not working their standard jobs, overall production suffers. Many issues can cause an increase in off-standard time, including: power failures, machine delays or breakdowns, meetings, line setting, waiting for additional work, and waiting for replenishment of inventory items like trims or accessories. A Shop Floor Control system minimizes off-standard time by tracking machine uptime and downtime and automating inventory tracking to ensure that fabric and other items needed during production stay stocked on the line. Adding real-time notifications of problems delivers further gains in productive time vs unproductive time.

As you can see, the insights generated by Shop Floor Control affect performance and profitability in important ways. Without a way to gather real-time measurements throughout the manufacturing process, it’s difficult to improve. Manual processes cannot yield the information needed to increase operational efficiency, labor utilization and quality control—all fundamental aspects of manufacturing profitability.

Exenta understands that manufacturers of apparel and sewn products face constant pressure to reduce costs, improve quality and shorten delivery times. Our Shopfloor Control software leverages IoT technology and off-the-shelf tablets to place real-time plant floor management in the hands of manufacturers. To learn how Shopfloor Control delivered measurable results for leading international apparel supplier, read this case study. Or, contact us today for a demo and learn how Exenta Shopfloor Control can transform your manufacturing operations.

3 Best Practices for Fashion Industry Software Implementation

3 Best Practices for Fashion Industry Software Implementation

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.

Contact us today to see a demo of one of our solutions or learn more about the best practices we use in software implementation.

2019 CohnReznick Consumer Products and Retail Digital Tech Summit

2019 CohnReznick Consumer Products and Retail Digital Tech Summit

[New York City, July 15, 2019] Exenta, Inc., one of the nation’s leading software companies serving the apparel and soft goods industries, announced today that its CEO, Roberto Mangual, will participate in the 2019 CohnReznick Consumer Products and Retail Digital Tech Summit on July 16th in New York City. Mr. Mangual will be part of a panel of executives discussing the impact of innovative retail technologies on an organization’s ability to engage with today’s hyper-connected consumer.

By participating in this panel, Mr. Mangual brings decades of experience in fashion and apparel software to a conversation about how back of house and front of house

Designed for the apparel, footwear, accessories, home furnishings and other fashion-related industries, EXENTA empowers brands, manufacturers, and retailers to advance and scale their businesses by accelerating and improving performance across the entire business and global supply chain. The EXENTA™ enterprise solution provides global process visibility, control and collaboration by combining traditionally independent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Sourcing & Supply Chain Management (SCM), Materials Requirements Planning (MRP), Shop Floor Control (SFC), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Warehouse Management (WMS), Financial Management (FMS), and other productivity tools into a single, fashion-focused business system. For more information, visit