Fuelling your PLM ambition

Market intelligence suggests that the PLM industry for retail, footwear and apparel is today worth in excess of $2.9 billion, with dramatic growth predicted in the mid-market.  So while some of the world’s largest multinationals may already have adopted a product lifecycle management solution, there is a rapidly-expanding pool of companies who’ve heard of the benefits of PLM, but don’t know where to begin.
The core classes here at WhichPLM Academy were designed to answer the most common questions around PLM for fashion.  This is as well as providing best-practice guidance and expert insight that will allow you to make sense of your challenges and assemble a business case for how the right solution will help you solve them.  For PLM vendors, our knowledge can help to transform “product people” into apparel industry professionals.

Your aims.  Our goal.

Whether you’re a brand considering a big project, or a vendor with staff to train, you want to understand PLM. Our goal is to give you the grounding and insight that won’t just help you know the industry, but live it.

PLM for footwear, apparel and textiles is a complicated and growing discipline.  More than 60 vendors cater to tens of thousands of prospective customers.  It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure that market is as transparent as possible, and we aim to replace confusion with clarity.

Our team has worked with some of the biggest names in retail, footwear and apparel for decades, and our lecturers have extensive hands-on experience of implementing and working with PLM.
  • Americana International
  • Mountain Equipment Co-Op
  • The Just Group
  • Columbia Sportswear
So while many training courses are purely theoretical, our classes are underpinned by comprehensive first-hand knowledge of what it takes to understand, select, and implement PLM in the most effective way possible.
  • Benetton
  • Gresvig
  • Ted Baker
  • Veldhoven
  • Seasalt Cornwall


PLM is a more complex subject than even its vendors give it credit for. The implementation of a modern solution touches absolutely every aspect of the business.

An effective implementation must be shepherded by qualified subject matter experts on both sides of the customer / supplier equation if a true return on investment is to be achieved. This is why education matters, and is the founding principle of WhichPLM Academy.


Most retailers, brands and manufacturers lack the required subject matter expertise in-house, and PLM solutions are often selected and implemented by teams with little or no experience.  In order to get the most from PLM, supplier teams should be well-versed in fashion industry processes and priorities, and customer teams should understand the ins and outs of ROI, RFI and much more. Whether they’re designers or sourcing managers; garment technicians or C-level management teams, every individual potentially affected by PLM deserves to understand it.
Strategic Decision Makers and C-Level Management
Management buy-in is critical in any enterprise-level project, and PLM is no exception. Not only do key stakeholders like CIOs, CEOs, CFOs actually help to drive the need for PLM in the first place, they must possess the understanding to “live the change”, and help to promote and articulate the kind of process transformations they hope to realise through the PLM project. We recommend that you achieve Bronze accreditation, providing you with a grounding in the fundamentals of PLM.
PLM Leader & Project Team
One of the most instrumental roles in any PLM project, the team leader and his or her support should be well-versed in every aspect of PLM. They will be tasked with a huge amount of responsibility at every level of the project, from assembling Master Data, to ensuring that supply chain partners and other offices are properly managed through the change. Because of the far-reaching nature of their roles, we suggest that anybody within the PLM project team be fully accredited, completing the Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers here at WhichPLM Academy. The cost of their not doing so could be far more significant…
Mid-level Business Managers
The resources required to run an effective PLM project must come from somewhere, and it’s typically the role of mid-level managers to build a project team without significantly impacting the capabilities of the business elsewhere. For this reason, it’s critical that they understand the true scope of PLM – from design to delivery – so that they better understand how to mitigate its impact on business capacity without putting the implementation itself at risk. Managers at this level will benefit considerably from the fundamental grounding that Bronze Tier accreditation provides.
Subject Matter Experts (Internal)
We use the phrase “Subject Matter Experts” to refer to any particular business stakeholders who are likely to become PLM champions – vanguards of change who understand the need for transformation, and are driven by a good understanding of why PLM is being implemented. These champions are a vital link between management mandates and actual day-to-day working; they are close enough to their individual discipline to communicate in terms their colleagues will welcome, and invested enough in seeing their area of expertise flourish that they should be given a complete understanding of what PLM can do for them – and for the business as a whole. These experts should be given full accreditation: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Subject Matter Experts (External)
Not all subject matter experts are in-house, and truly modern fashion businesses recognise the importance of including their extended supply chain partners in their PLM project. Although these external experts do not require the same degree of understanding as their internal counterparts (particularly where subjects like RFIs are concerned), we recommend that any important partners are give at least Bronze-level accreditation, helping them to understand the drive for collaboration and communication that will come to define the project.
IT Professionals
Although PLM reaches every level of the business as an ideology, as a piece of software it is first and foremost an IT project. From infrastructure to international collaboration, the core capabilities of PLM rely heavily on the support of the Information Technology team. Although these professionals may not necessarily need as detailed an insight as others into ROI, for example, there are important lessons for them scattered throughout our modules. On that basis, we suggest that key IT team members are considered for complete accreditation – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Third Party PLM Consultants
Many retailers and brands turn to third party consultants to help them plan and undertake their implementation. In addition to ensuring that these consultants are impartial, unbiased, and have the requisite expertise, businesses should look to see whether they have achieved WhichPLM Academy accreditation. Complete accreditation – Bronze, Silver and Gold – is the bare minimum that we would look for in an independent consultant, and if they are to actually head up the implementation, they should also have achieved “Practitioner” level certification.
Supplier PLM Pre-Sales & Sales Teams
As customers of PLM become better-educated (through services like WhichPLM Academy), they will begin to demand the same or greater level of expertise from the pre-sales and sales teams who approach them with the aim of selling or demonstrating their solutions. A demonstrator who understands workflow but not how it pertains to the seasonality inherent in the fashion industry, for example, is considerably less likely to be effective than one who does. This isn’t to suggest that these team members are anything less than expert where their technology is concerned, but rather that complete accreditation – Bronze, Silver and Gold – from WhichPLM Academy can serve as a real differentiator, allowing them to better understand how their technology can be applied to the common and unique challenges of a modern fashion business.
Supplier PLM Implementation Team
All suppliers have dedicated implementation experts: people who know their software environment inside out, and can customise and configure the solution to fit the needs of their customers. What some of these experts lack is hands-on experience in the fashion industry, many of them having been drafted in from other verticals. The value of their being properly trained in the unique aspects of this industry cannot be overstated, and those implementations teams that boast Practitioner Level accreditation from WhichPLM Academy (in addition to Gold Tier attainment) stand poised to deliver greater value to their employers and the customers they serve.

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