The Agile PLM Transformation Guide
Let’s face it. Fashion and apparel brands must embrace Agile methodology in their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) processes. PLM refers to the principles and technologies specifically tailored to meet the needs and challenges of product development, from conception to design to production. In today’s rapidly changing retail environment, fashion and apparel brands are up against time, competitors, consumer preferences, ESG regulations, supply chain disruptions … the list could go on! Now, let’s get into how this concept applies.
At a Glance:
What is Agile Methodology?
Agile methodology is an approach to project management that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and responsiveness to change. Rather than planning out every aspect of a project in advance, agile projects are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks called iterations.
During each iteration, the project team works together to produce a working product or deliverable that can be tested and evaluated. This iterative process allows for frequent feedback and adjustments, enabling the team to quickly adapt to changing requirements and priorities.
Agile methodologies prioritize communication and collaboration, with team members working closely together and communicating regularly to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The approach values responding to change over following a strict plan and encourages continuous improvement over a fixed-end goal.
What is Agile PLM?
Agile PLM technology streamlines the entire product development process, improving collaboration and communication among internal teams and partners. Retailers often deal with a wide variety of products, diverse suppliers, and rapidly changing consumer preferences, making agile PLM a valuable tool for managing their product lifecycles efficiently and effectively.
Agile PLM enables fashion and apparel brands to manage their product development process in a modern and agile way. Agile PLM for fashion and apparel brands provides a single platform for managing design, development, sourcing, and production processes, allowing teams to work collaboratively and efficiently.
It is designed to support the iterative, fast-paced nature of the fashion and apparel industry by enabling teams to quickly create and share designs, track progress, and identify potential bottlenecks or issues. This type of platform also provides tools for managing sourcing and supplier relationships, enabling brands to better manage their supply chains and respond quickly to changes in demand or unexpected disruptions.
Overall, Agile PLM for fashion and apparel brands is a comprehensive platform for enabling agile product development and supply chain management, helping brands to stay competitive and responsive to changing consumer needs and trends. There’s certainly room for improvement. According to Gartner, PLM is critically important to apparel companies, but survey results show that many are not realizing its full benefits.
Six Ways Fashion & Apparel Brands Benefit from Agile Methodology
Overall, agile methodology is a flexible, collaborative, and responsive approach to project management that allows teams to quickly adapt to changing requirements and priorities. All while continuously improving their workflows and products.
Agile methodology can be particularly beneficial for fashion and apparel brands due to the rapidly changing nature of design, development, and manufacturing processes across the retail industry. Here are a few ways modern brands can benefit from adopting agile principles into their workflows:
1. Faster Time to Market
In fashion and apparel, timing is critical. Trends and styles can change quickly, and being able to get products to market quickly can give brands a competitive edge. Without Agile PLM, the product development process can become slow and cumbersome. Coordinating between various departments, suppliers, and stakeholders becomes challenging, leading to longer lead times and delayed product launches. Agile methodology is well-suited to fast-paced environments, as it allows teams to deliver working products or features quickly and iterate as needed.
2. Unparalleled Flexibility
The fashion and apparel industry is known for its unpredictability, with sudden changes in demand, shifting consumer preferences, and unexpected supply chain disruptions. Agile methodology emphasizes flexibility and responsiveness to change, enabling teams to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and reprioritize tasks as needed.
3. Collaboration Unleashed
Fashion and apparel brands often have large, cross-functional teams working together, including designers, merchandisers, buyers, sourcing teams, and other stakeholders. These departments are often siloed, using legacy PLM systems. This leads to miscommunications and information gaps, leading to errors and inefficiencies. Agile methodology prioritizes collaboration and communication between team members, facilitating cross-functional cooperation and helping to ensure that everyone is aligned on project goals and objectives.
4. Customer-Centric Approach
The success of fashion and apparel brands often hinges on their ability to understand and respond to customer needs and preferences. Agile methodology emphasizes a customer-focused approach, with teams working closely with customers or stakeholders to gather feedback across the product lifecycle and adjust project plans as needed.
5. Continuous Improvement
In fashion and apparel, there is always room for improvement, whether it’s in product design, production processes, or supply chain management. Agile methodology encourages continuous improvement through regular feedback and retrospectives, enabling teams to communicate and learn from their mistakes to make incremental improvements over time.
Overall, Agile methodology can help fashion and apparel brands be more responsive, collaborative, and customer-focused while enabling them to deliver high-quality products quickly and continuously improve their processes and operations.
6. Compliance, Sustainability & Quality Management
With compliance regulations and a push for more sustainable, quality products, Agile methodology can help fashion and apparel brands be more responsive in this area. Agile PLM can help manage compliance documentation, certifications, and quality control processes.
Tips for Fashion Brands Implementing Agile Principles
There are several ways that fashion and apparel brands can implement agile methodology into their current design, development, and production workflows:
1. Break Down Projects into Smaller Iterations
Agile methodology emphasizes breaking down projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. For fashion and apparel brands, this could mean breaking down a collection into smaller design or production phases or breaking down a supply chain optimization project into smaller, more specific initiatives.
2. Prioritize Collaboration & Communication
Agile methodology emphasizes collaboration and communication between team members, and fashion and apparel brands can implement this by promoting cross-functional teamwork and regular communication between designers, merchandisers, buyers, and other stakeholders.
3. Use Data to Inform Decision-Making
Agile methodology emphasizes a data-driven approach to decision-making, which can be particularly useful in the fashion and apparel industry. Brands can use data on consumer preferences, sales trends, and supply chain performance to inform product design and production decisions.
4. Conduct Regular Reviews & Retrospectives
Agile methodology encourages regular reviews and retrospectives to assess progress and identify areas for improvement. Fashion brands can implement this by conducting post-collection reviews to assess product performance and identify areas for improvement or by conducting supply chain retrospectives to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
5. Embrace Flexibility & Adaptability
Agile methodology emphasizes flexibility and adaptability, and fashion brands can implement this by building supply chain resilience and flexibility into their operations, being willing to pivot in response to changing consumer trends, and prioritizing continuous improvement over rigid planning.
Bamboo Rose & Backbone PLM: Pioneering the Retail Revolution
Discover how Bamboo Rose and Backbone PLM redefine the fashion and apparel landscape. Our dynamic, cloud-based solution offers:
By adopting Agile methodology, fashion and apparel brands can better respond to consumer trends, streamline their design and production processes, and improve collaboration and communication among teams.
Fashion and apparel brands need to embrace Agile methodology because it allows them to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences, streamline their design and production processes, and continuously improve their operations to remain competitive in a fast-paced industry.
A dynamic, cloud-based PLM solution improves every aspect of design and development. Agile PLM helps brands function and succeed in a very competitive digital climate by improving quality, speed to market, and overall visibility across the various stages of the product development lifecycle. Say hello to efficiency!
Bamboo Rose takes a dynamic approach to product lifecycle management compared to traditional legacy systems. Product and component libraries are the heart of Bamboo Rose with Backbone’s PLM and the central source of truth needed to create tech packs, line sheets, BOMs, and much more within minutes.
The Future of Retail Awaits
Designers and developers have greater visibility into their products. The time that would be spent looking up product details in email threads, spreadsheets, or design folders can now go toward improving design workflows. The more you use Bamboo Rose PLM, the more efficient your team will become. Tech pack creation becomes seamless, sharing designs is automatic, and submitting change requests with vendors can be done in just a few clicks.
If you’re ready to scale your brand with Bamboo Rose and utilize better Agile PLM software, talk to one of our retail experts.