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The Key Benefits of Digitizing Your Product Development Processes

The Key Benefits of Digitizing Your Product Development Processes

April 30, 2018

Every fashion company today aspires to the same basic goals: to become more agile in order to produce the right products faster, to delight customers with on-trend designs, and to produce compelling products that build brand loyalty. 

Succeeding in today’s hyper-competitive environment is tougher than ever, though. Companies must improve the speed from concept to delivery and improve operational efficiency to offset higher sourcing and production costs. There’s also the constant pressure for lower prices and higher margins, and the need to react quickly to changing consumer demands. The stakes are high, too: companies that fail to meet these objectives will not survive.

How can companies improve speed to market, ensure they’re producing the right products and improve their bottom line? To meet these goals, companies need to digitize the entire design and manufacturing process from start to finish, and by doing so, they can see gains in every area.

In this blog, we’ll look at the operational gains in digitizing just one part of the concept-to-delivery process: product development.
 

What is digital transformation?

Success in this industry means innovating faster than the competition and moving quickly to produce the exact products that consumers want. Inevitably, this will involve new types of technology and processes. To do this, companies are moving to the cloud to slash long deployment cycles as they implement solutions to digitize their processes.

But what does “digitization” mean? One of the basic concepts of digital transformation is moving away from manual processes and entering information directly into a digital system. But it’s much more than that. As CIO.com defines it, “digital transformation is application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities.”

Digitizing product development inevitably means implementing a PLM system, and companies are at different stages here. Some companies have already jumped on the bandwagon and gotten away from spreadsheets and emails completely in product development, some use a mix of spreadsheets and solutions, and still others have solutions that may be outdated and lack the features and functions to help them reach their full digital potential. 
 

Benefits of digital transformation in product development

There are many benefits as companies digitize their product development processes with modern PLM systems. Some of the most common, though, are the following:

  • Improved productivity. Digitizing product development will help inevitably help companies generate more development output from their current staff.

  • Early problem detection and resolution. With digital product development, companies can identify problems much earlier in the product lifecycle and resolve them quickly, keeping product development on track. Modern PLM solutions include calendars, alerts and collaboration tools to help teams stay on track and flag issues as they arise – something that can’t be done with manual processes and spreadsheets.

  • Faster speed to market. Since all participants collaboratively share the same data with PLM – “one version of the truth” -- workflow decisions move much faster. This reduces the amount of lag time that is inherent with meetings, emails and spreadsheets.

  • Better product adoption rates. Digital PLM systems help teams make go/no-go decisions much earlier in product development, by identifying issues with price, material lead time, factory capacity, overdevelopment and current sales of similar styles.

  • Reduce sampling cost and turnaround time. Because of improved product adoption rates, product developers can stop making samples that will not get adopted and focus on the ones that will move to production.

  • Improved profitability by achieving target margins and staying on budget. With digital PLM solutions, companies can quickly and easily issue RFQs to multiple vendors and perform line item cost comparisons to negotiate better prices.

  • Better sourcing decisions. Create comprehensive vendor profiles and easily search for vendors based on criteria such as on-time delivery, shipment completion rate, quality, capacity, lead times and other factors. 
     

Real-world results of digital transformation

What is the impact on real-world product development for fashion companies? Here is what a few of NGC’s many PLM customers have shared with us:

  • SPANX: The beloved shapewear company digitized its product development with NGC’s PLM software, allowing them to organize product sketches, specifications and all digital assets much more efficiently. SPANX has streamlined the flow of information and become more structured, allowing it to speed up the design process. SPANX’s designers are using their time more efficiently, which has allowed the company to have more products available and add more flexibility into design schedules.
     
  • Swatfame: The women’s and girl’s fashion company relies on NGC’s PLM to manage changes for its complex, fast-changing business. “We are in and out of styles very quickly; we do a large amount of styles per month, and our product needs are always changing," said Jonathan Greenberg, president. "We add and subtract styles constantly, and we need to be able to react to changes quickly. NGC's collaboration tool (in the PLM systems) allows us to do that by putting everyone on the same page, and it's been really important for us."
     
  • Strategic Partners: A leading provider of medical and school uniforms, Strategic Partners relies on NGC solutions to centralize data and support the company’s rapid growth. Prior to NGC, Strategic Partners relied on spreadsheets with information spread all over the company, with no cohesive way of keeping the data, according to Dana Thompson, VP of Production, Strategic Partners. “Information dissemination is much quicker, we can make changes and implement them faster, and NGC’s solution has cut down the number of steps required to enter styles into our system and get the information around the company,” she said.
     

Unlock the benefits of digitization with NGC’s Andromeda PLM

NGC Software helps brands and retailers worldwide digitize their product development processes with the AndromedaTM PLM solution. Our cloud-based solution transforms design productivity and unlocks all the benefits of digital product development, with a common platform for all PLM elements including Planning, Merchandising, Design, Costing, Sampling, Quality and Sourcing. Companies can also extend the functionality of Andromeda PLM, or even existing PLM systems, with NGC’s additional cloud-based solutions for supply chain management (SCM), global quality control and vendor compliance. Find more information on Andromeda PLM here

In our next blog we’ll focus on the benefits of digitizing the fashion supply chain with a digital supply chain.