N41 Web Blog 01

Best Practices for Successful PLM Software Implementation in Apparel Companies

Although product lifecycle management (PLM) software is—by far—the best option for apparel companies, it will take some time to ensure everything goes correctly with PLM implementation. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to have your game plan in place before implementation begins. 

The PLM implementation process will include many different things, such as: 

  • Establishing a clearly defined goal. 
  • Putting your implementation team together. 
  • Choosing your PLM solution carefully. 
  • Devising a training plan. 
  • Testing it out. 
  • Going live and measuring the results. 

Let’s take a closer look at PLM implementation best practices. This can help ensure that your plan goes off without a hitch! 

Planning and Goal Definition 

It’s critical that you set your goals before you begin putting PLM in place. That’s because there are a variety of different PLM solutions, and it’s essential to make sure that your company purchases the right one. Keep in mind that the right choice for your company could easily be the wrong choice for a different business. That’s why it’s so necessary to have your specific goals in place before you move forward. 

It’s also important to consider how much the PLM software you select will cost, but make sure you don’t simply pick the cheapest one. Again, there are several different PLM solutions, but they’re not a dime a dozen. Instead, each one will have specific features you’ll want to consider. Be sure to select the solution that will work for your entire company, not just your budget.  

Involving Key Stakeholders and Project Management

Before moving forward with the best PLM implementation strategy, you’ll also need to meet with key stakeholders. The role of a key stakeholder is to: 

  • Provide needed financial support for your company. 
  • Help with assignments and/or business initiatives. 
  • Ask for recent developments and/or updates on your current project. 
  • Contribute during company leadership meetings and/or planning meetings. 

As you can imagine, key stakeholders may have different priorities than you do, so it’s wise to meet with them early on to hammer out a finalized plan. If you don’t take the time to meet with them at the beginning of the PLM implementation, you might find yourself having to backtrack significantly once you get them involved. Therefore, it’s simpler for everyone if you all get together in a room (real or virtual) to work out your PLM implementation methodology. 

Once you’re all on the same page, you can begin to develop a project management strategy. Whoever takes on the role of PLM project management will need to be fully aware of your company’s resources. That way, they can use all your resources appropriately, which should help ensure a successful implementation. 

Data Migration and Training Strategies

Now it’s time to migrate your data and begin planning how you’ll train your employees to use the new PLM software. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the data migration process. After all, it’s vital that all your product lifecycle information follows your company to your new software solution. Otherwise, you’d essentially be flying blind, which will invariably cause mistakes. 

Carefully monitor your data migration to ensure that everything is transferred. That way, you can look back on where you’ve been as you decide where you’re going. Even if you don’t like the things you’ve done in the past, it’s still critical to be able to look at them for data. 

Next, you’ll need to devise a training strategy (or strategies) that will work for everyone. Since you already know your team’s strengths and weaknesses, it should be relatively easy for you to devise a training course. Keep the following in mind as you do so: 

  • Proper training improves knowledge and skills. 
  • It should set your employees up to take on more significant responsibilities. 
  • It will show your employees that they are a valued member of your team.
  • It will test the efficiency of your new PLM software. 
  • It will improve their computer skills. 

Remember: it’s more important to take your time with training to get it right than it is to get through it quickly. If you skimp on the training now, you’ll regret it down the road. 

Change Management and Post-Implementation Support

Change management is another vital point of implementing new PLM software, which should be in place from the beginning. Essentially, PLM change management means having the ability to make changes to your items, designs, and records. But it won’t stop once a design is made or even in stores. Instead, change management is an overall term for watching over every single step from development all the way through the item’s end of life. 

Providing post-implementation support will also be highly important. Just because everyone seems to understand the system initially, that doesn’t mean that they won’t run into issues or have questions later on. Doing the following can make a massive difference for your staff: 

  • Select your most qualified staff to provide post-implementation support.
  • Determine and categorize any issues. 
  • Follow up closely with your key stakeholders to ensure your post-implementation support goes well. 

By utilizing a post-implementation support team, you can take care of any minor issues before they become a major problem! 

What is PLM Implementation? How Do You Get Started? 

By now, you’re well acquainted with PLM implementation and how critically important it is to start off on the right foot with your new software. Keep in mind that the data migration process will only be as good as the data you currently have. The saying, “junk in, junk out,” definitely applies here. Even if your data is junk, though, you can still begin working toward fixing the problem going forward. 

Keep the following steps in mind throughout the entire implementation process. 

  • Planning and goal definition: Know what your goals are BEFORE you begin the implementation process. 
  • Involving key stakeholders and project management: Ensure you and your key stakeholders agree and begin project management. 
  • Data migration and training strategies: Migrate every piece of applicable data. Set up a training strategy that will work best with your specific employees. 
  • Change management and post-implementation support: Choose who will be in charge of change management, along with who will offer post-implementation support.

Are you in the market for PLM software? Turn to N41! With our 99% client retention rate, you know that we’re a company you can trust. We’ve spent 16+ years working in the PLM/ERP business, and we’d love to help you make your apparel business more profitable! Contact us today to schedule your free demo!   

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