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Traditional PLM Software vs Fashion PLM Software: Why Backbone is Better

At a Glance:

What is Fashion PLM Software? 

What’s Different About Backbone’s Fashion PLM Software?

How is Backbone Better Than Traditional PLM Software? 

Traditional PLM vs Fashion PLM: What’s the Verdict?

Since the mass production of fashion and apparel began in the mid-1800s, the industry has continued to evolve and establish itself as a major contributor to the global economy. With retail sales of apparel and footwear generating $1.9 trillion in 2019, fashion is undoubtedly one of the largest industries in the world. Despite its economic impact, the fashion industry has been surprisingly reserved when adopting new technologies and digitizing workflows. Many fashion and apparel brands still rely on disconnected spreadsheets and email threads to align on product development needs, which proves to be inefficient and ineffective. 

Backbone PLM is different than traditional fashion PLM software. Backbone’s modern, cloud-based product development platform empowers fashion brands to innovate, design, and develop products at digital speed. Because legacy systems aren’t user-friendly or collaborative, industry-leading brands have reconsidered how they organize design and development processes for internal teams and vendors alike. The first step to improving visibility, productivity, and scalability is implementing a dynamic fashion PLM like Backbone.



What is Fashion PLM Software? 

Fashion PLM software is a design and development solution to take products from concept to creation. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) contains centralized product data to streamline and organize creative briefs, production schedules, supplier communication, and more. Fashion PLM acts as a collaborative environment for designers and product developers to integrate colors, size specs, and materials. It also provides a platform to manage sample development and mitigate risks throughout the supply chain.  

In the fashion industry, a lot goes into building new products. Brands must define goals for seasonal collections and create blueprints for designers, merchandisers, and buyers. Teams work together to plot the number of styles to produce, carryover designs, colorways, price points, MOQs, margins, and more. Fashion PLM will help your company establish these product development plans, forward crucial product specifications to other departments, and begin a cooperative, transparent relationship with your entire vendor base. 

Fashion brands may utilize a cloud-based PLM to launch new products, reduce production costs, and increase speed to market. Growth-oriented companies are moving past scattered spreadsheets and making fashion PLM a top priority. In contrast, sinking time and resources into hard-to-use, legacy platforms inhibit real-time collaboration and slows your production schedule. Without a user-friendly fashion PLM, many emerging fashion startups would not be able to secure funding or grow their business

Related Article: PLM vs ERP: What’s the Difference?

What’s Different About Backbone’s Fashion PLM Software?

If your fashion brand is looking for an easy-to-use product development platform to make products smarter, faster, and at scale, then you’ve come to the right place. Backbone PLM functions as the single source of truth for all product-related information, including BOMs, version history, product libraries, component reports, color swatches, artboards, tech packs, and much more. 

Backbone PLM separates itself from traditional fashion PLM systems because of the speed and efficiency in which fashion brands can create new products and customize templates. For example, the average Backbone customer saves eight hours per tech pack! Backbone customers move products from design to development 44% faster than manual systems, and centralized product records are automatically updated, reducing manual data entry by 40%. 

Backbone PLM’s cloud-based design platform and built-in flexibility enable fashion and apparel brands to transfer product data from the system to almost any other platform you use, including Shopify and Adobe Creative Cloud. For example, Backbone’s Adobe Illustrator plugin enables designers to access and update files without worrying about whether they’re working with the current version. Changes sync seamlessly, taking the pain out of product revisions for your entire team.

Cloud-native PLM solutions like Backbone are also more affordable and faster to implement compared to traditional legacy systems. Backbone’s cloud-based PLM leverages modern user interface and user design technologies to provide an intuitive product that anyone can use, even if you aren’t part of a technical team. 

But the buck doesn’t stop here! Learn more about Backbone PLM’s complete product offerings and pricing tiers below!

How is Backbone Better Than Traditional PLM Software? 

Stick around and we’ll tell you! Here are six reasons why Backbone PLM is a better fit for your brand than traditional fashion PLM software.

1. A Dynamic and Intuitive Software

Product designers are creative visionaries. The way they think, communicate, and build is inherently creative, which is why the tools they use should be the same. Backbone PLM was made by designers, for designers to work comfortably and do what they do best. Working in spreadsheets is like wearing an ill-fitted shirt or pair of jeans — it’s intolerable. Manual design tools are slow, cumbersome, and prone to error for even the simplest tasks, such as uploading product sketches or housing design versions. 

Backbone PLM understands the creative process of a fashion designer, visually displaying design and product information in one central location. Interconnected product and component libraries with dynamically updated data can be reused, edited, or updated, so teams can easily coordinate and enhance their designs with the intricate details needed to bring new products to life. Like a mood board, designers can hone in on design elements and arrange image files, fabric materials, and colors, including custom palettes and Pantone libraries, which are pre-populated in the Backbone system.

In Backbone, designers can drive engagement across internal teams by enabling callouts on images that automatically populate your BOM, record Points of Measure (POMs), and collect feedback and revisions all in one place. Spreadsheets and manual design tools are full of drop-down menus, tabs, columns, and rows that can take hours to sort through. Backbone’s fashion PLM software empowers uninhibited, free-flowing designs from beginning to end. With less resistance from designers and developers, Backbone PLM is easier to use than traditional PLM systems and more enjoyable to operate each day. 

2. Clear and Concise Communication 

When using a traditional fashion PLM system, communication is limited. Team members and manufacturers typically resort to drawn-out email dialogue to discuss product details, timelines, pricing, and so on. Attachments are often forgotten, requests are unclear, and comments are confusing. You’re still left to scour through your inbox to find the right messages or files before you can pass any information along.

If you remember, Backbone’s collaboration tools allow designers and developers to drive engagement across teams by providing ways to work in the system together. Backbone achieves this by enabling callouts on images that dynamically populate your BOMs and collect revisions all in one place. Say you need to confirm a POM, clarify label placement, or request a fit change after sampling; Backbone makes it easy for design teams to add annotations, leave comments, upload current files, and confirm due dates or anything else related to the product. Teams will always know who said what and be able to witness those changes update in real-time. 

Beyond that, Backbone’s cloud-based PLM adds additional functionality by allowing you to send tech packs directly from the platform to factories, your team, or anyone else in minutes, improving a process that is known to take days the old-fashioned way. Conversations are collected in one contained environment instead of being scattered across a disorganized inbox. Feedback, revisions, and requests are left with clarity and precision, so factories and team members can work without confusion. Keeping current product and component data available to your team in a centralized platform is the core of any functional PLM, such as Backbone.

 3. Accurate Costing Forecasts

Fashion and apparel brands need to record the costs of an entire collection quickly and accurately. That includes defining sale prices, margins, and sales channels (e-commerce vs brick and mortar). Unfortunately, it is common for fashion brands to depend on manual spreadsheets to track and maintain costing efforts. The numerous rows and columns are often hard to understand, leading to costly errors, delays, or miscalculations. 

Fashion PLM software helps streamline this process by enabling costing data to be uploaded for each component, saving design and development teams hours of working time. Pre-configured values can be accessed and shared with teams, so costing forecasts remain accurate and up to date for all necessary components. 

With Backbone’s Item Views, teams can filter real-time data associated with your products, including lead times, sample tracking, factory allocation, and much more. When working in the system, you can create flexible views to meet your team’s needs and empower them to make informed decisions for sustained profitability.

 4. Improved Vendor Relations 

Fashion production involves knowing the exact order quantity of each product. That requires a thorough analysis of your budget, sales projections, vendor capacity, and consumer demand. This aspect of product development is time-sensitive and should be completed well in advance to ensure sufficient time for eventual production and distribution. 

Using traditional PLM tools to define MOQs, styles, colorways, price, and compliance is tedious and time-consuming. A fashion PLM software like Backbone simplifies vendor relations and the buying process by centralizing all purchase orders and enabling real-time collaboration with suppliers. This workflow improves the visibility of purchase order requests, sample approval, shipment tracking, and sustainability standards, so the buying process is as timely and precise as possible. 

 5. Superior Sample Management

Managing samples is one of the most important pre-production processes during the product development cycle. It can involve designers, developers, manufacturers, and even key stakeholders. Samples typically go through multiple rounds of revisions or iterations before approving the product and moving forward with production. This stage requires a clear communication flow between developers and vendors (most likely working overseas in different time zones) to remain organized and keep track of deadlines. Fashion PLM provides a vigorous platform to limit the cost and time needed to receive finished samples. 

Backbone makes it much easier for internal teams and suppliers to communicate timelines and maintain orders, final materials cost, and arrival times. All of the information included in the tech pack will allow your team to manage sample data across styles, SKUs, and seasons, so you know exactly how your products will arrive without having to chase down your factory for updates. A cloud-based PLM like Backbone saves time in both the sampling and revision process because all necessary product details, including color swatches, fit samples, and lab dips are easy to access in one consolidated system. 

6. Custom Reporting and Tracking

Customized reporting tools built into your fashion PLM software integrate each department and display easy-to-read product data and metrics that enable fast-acting decisions. Design teams aren’t wasting valuable time manually inputting metrics to report on the status of a particular product or collection. Instead, you can create visual Line Sheet Reports in Backbone that compile product data for greater visibility as you collaborate with internal and external partners. Teams can summarize and review products by season, collection, type, and more to maintain organization and a smooth workflow. 

Leverage data across Backbone’s Component Utilization Reports to analyze the impact on your bottom line from component changes and plan raw materials or price negotiations with vendors. With unlimited custom fields, Backbone admins can create, edit, and manage fields specific to your brand’s unique needs and goals. The intuitive admin panel makes it easy to configure brands, taxonomy, fields, and users throughout the entire system. 

Related Article: Factory Communication and Tech Pack Sharing

Traditional PLM vs Fashion PLM: What’s the Verdict?

It is important to remember that design plays a vital role when developing a successful product. Legacy PLM platforms used to make everything from industrial tools to airplanes are slow and outdated, requiring a lot of customization to work for fashion and apparel brands. In contrast, fashion PLM software like Backbone is designed with your needs in mind, helping your design team unleash their true creativity and collaborate on new product ideas with the entire company. 

Backbone is the clear winner here. Products are made smarter, faster, and at scale with the help of a dynamic cloud-based PLM and built-in functionality, including BOMs, callouts, image annotation, creative integrations, and flexible tech pack creation.

Fashion PLM provides a snapshot of product specifications so design teams and stakeholders can align on development processes and eventual marketing efforts. Backbone adds an added layer of protection to ensure product details are accurate and shared on time. 

Simply put, Backbone’s fashion PLM solution helps brands create better, faster products in the following ways: 

  • Centralized product specs
  • Real-time product updates 
  • Limited sampling rounds 
  • Reduced production costs 
  • Seamless tech pack creation
  • Accelerated time to market 
  • Transparent communication 
  • Clear and visible artboards 
  • Custom fields
  • Short learning curve  
  • Potential for ethical and sustainable sourcing

Related Article: Leveraging Fashion PLM Software to Grow Your Fashion Startup


Backbone Does it Best 

A dynamic, cloud-based PLM solution will undoubtedly make your life easier. Fashion PLM is no longer seen as a tool reserved for the industry big-wigs, but instead has evolved into a must-have item for fashion brands of any size. Fashion PLM software helps brands function and succeed in a very competitive climate by improving quality, speed to market, and overall visibility across the various stages of the product development lifecycle. 

Backbone takes a dynamic approach to fashion PLM compared to traditional legacy systems. Product and component libraries are the heart of the Backbone system and the central source of truth needed to create tech packs, line sheets, BOMs, and much more within minutes. We’ve thoughtfully built popular product development features into the system, making Backbone a user-friendly platform for daily design and development tasks.

If you’re ready to build your brand with Backbone and utilize a better fashion PLM software, discover our collection of case studies, blogs, and free resources to learn more.

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