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Posted Date: 5/11/2009

THE VALUE IN INTERCONNECTING PLM AND SUPPLY CHAIN TEAMS

contributed by Gary M. Barraco, Senior Manager, Marketing and Alliance Development, ecVision
gbarraco@ecvision.com

No matter the end product or service, the concept of value has historically been defined based on the current needs of the marketplace. But what is value? Technically, value means the amount of relative worth that is considered to be the fair equivalent for what is to be received in return. As a software provider, we often engage in introspection during the development of products and solutions to ensure we are meeting the needs of the user community in order to deliver the appropriate value. This value should be easy to identify and understand, right?

The truth about justifying value is that it isn't that easy. As this relates to software, more specifically, PLM and supply chain software, determining value is sometimes difficult -- even more so when money is tight due to tough economic conditions. However, the answer can be found by looking across the entire product lifecycle to understand the connection between the often disparate groups who can utilize the same software solution to perform their individual tasks and achieve greater value.

The Bridge to Success

Globalization has intensified the need for collaboration, standardizing and sharing information across the enterprise. Retailers and consumer goods brand owners sourcing from low-cost, offshore countries need to implement technology tools to help manage the entire product lifecycle and supply chain to be better, faster and cheaper than their competitors. These solutions enable dramatic change by improving collaboration among the distinct internal and external groups, standardizing processes and documents, and acting as a central knowledge base to store and share all related data that provides visibility into the supply chain process.

This in itself is no easy task. Few conventional product data management (PDM)/product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions customarily have the range to cover the broad scope of the full product lifecycle by spanning supply chain execution (SCE), global trade management and logistics tasks too. Each of these functional areas often utilizes specific software systems that address their own needs. However, a single system that connects the retailer's "stand-alone" group, and also reigns in its vendors and trading partners, shows the value proposition quickly and easily.

The scope for this type of cross-functional technology includes everything from gathering early line plan requirements to designing goods and writing product specifications, building a collection plan through multiple stages of collaboration with the factories and vendors on product design, capacity and/or material reservations, development and costing. This is typically where the PLM functionality ends. SCE tasks pick up at the point when goods are ordered and "needle is put to cloth," then managing and tracking the production and executing the necessary shipping requirements through to receipt into the warehouse.

Bridging these functions unifies the process, supporting one view and one source of data. Data is then consolidated to create a hub that captures all the information and manages this information across multiple enterprise systems and areas for the utmost efficiency.

Cutting out the redundancy

Without a technology solution managing all this information that is traversing the globe, redundant data entry and re-entry imminently creates excessive manual efforts and increases risk for errors at many points along the way. Furthermore, multiple systems might be in place within each functional team that now can be eliminated by combining business processes and data into a communal solution. This tight meshing of development, sourcing and supply chain operations also presents greater value by way of the consumer through lower price points and higher quality products.

The fully-integrated, web-based suite of functionality found in ecVision XpressCommerce engages the entire value chain by creating a direct, efficient connection between product development, procurement and suppliers throughout the entire product lifecycle process.

XpressCommerce is a role-based, workflow-driven collaborative application combining PLM and supply chain execution capabilities. These capabilities are enabled by a common platform for data consolidation, collaboration, workflow, calendar and event management, and shipment and trade document standardization that delivers visibility and analytics across the supply chain. The result is a shortening of each step in the process allowing companies to develop and deliver products more quickly and effectively, ultimately improving the top and bottom lines simultaneously to achieve a competitive advantage.

Points to remember

  • Retailers must look to optimize their organizations to decrease risk and overhead while still delivering on customer expectations of more products, at a lower price on the shelf.
  • The forces of change in the retail supply chain will lead retailers to look at new technologies that can transform business processes.
  • Success will be measured by how well software technology providers can present that data across the enterprise to illustrate their overall value to the business.
  • An effective, efficient solution provides a view across all functional areas that will ultimately drive improved processes.
  • The right solution will unify all the information in a single source from concept to delivery. By closely integrating with external systems, everyone involved is looking at one view and following one standard business process.

ecVision has been providing value-driven solutions to the retail industry for over 10 years. If you would like to read other whitepapers or learn more about our products, visit www.ecvision.com.

 

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