Meeting with da boss

June 11, 2011 at 10:44 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think this organisation is full of Indian Chiefs… I met with another top management, whom I supposed is the Managing Director.

My actual organisation supervisor is an Indian as well, but she claim herself to be a born-and-bred African… there’s a Sales Manager, and 2 other ppl with the title of “Business Manager” who is also an Indian as well.

…The typical Indians whom we classify as foreign talents in Singapore… all here as top management.
So… we just gotta learn to live with it…

It was a good introduction chat… da boss told me to know more about Africa, the region, and the country…

Also, I’m on the same page with him with regards to finding a focus for this internship, rather than going all around trying to cover all bases 😉

Friday happenings…a rude awakening

June 11, 2011 at 09:32 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Determined to make today a productive day, I thought through all that have happened over the past 3 weeks and came up with a list of targeted questions for the users.

The main objective was to address the problem of data error coming from the measurement of oil in storage tanks. What the people at production would do is a process called tank sounding to measure the volume of oil. Then they would measure the temperature. Using this 2 data, they would perform some calculation to determine the tonnage of oil in tank.

I thought that since errors are coming from data collection, perhaps it could be the manual calculation and entering of data that could possibly go wrong…and the solution would be to build the formula into the system to do the calculation.
Turn out that it was already being done, with the exception of 3 tanks without calibration data in place… so for that, the user will still have to perform manual calculation.

In conclusion, there wasn’t a real problem.

Towards the end of the day, my pseudo-supervisor came into the office and asked me what I’ve done.
Happily, I reported the above and she retorted rudely ” so what have you done? what are you going to do about it?”
“Could you come up with an Excel chart to help the user do away with manual calculation?”
I was too shocked to formulate a reply… so I simply kept quiet.

Sure I can… the Excel formula would be simple: Mass = Density x Volume
But does it help solve the problem?
…and most likely it would be wrong, because the data is with reference to a calibration data for the tank, and the density table for the particular oil concerned… i.e. I will have to make assumption that the oil tank is a perfect cylinder and the oil expands linearly with temperature increase…
…and I could do all these since I’m so free, but would it be “busy work”?

Must change be necessary?

Must “something” visible need to be done?

Perhaps this is my rude awakening… people out there wants to see something tangible (an Excel chart, a report, etc) done & would not accept the recommendation for things to remain status quo…
Imagine if a company hires a consultant, and the consultant simply diagnose that nothing is wrong with the company, it should remain as it is, would the client be able to accept it?
It would be like a patient who is down with a minor infection going to a doctor… the doctor, with the right diagnosis, simply tell the patient to go home and rest, drink more water etc., without prescribing any medication, would the patient accept it?

Hmm, some food for thought for me…

…and for a funny link very applicable to me, uncanny resemblance of a lifeguard part-time job: http://www.pointsincase.com/articles/internships_paid_for_nothing.htm

Ghana… so far

June 8, 2011 at 13:06 | Posted in Ghana | Leave a comment
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3rd week into PA… got stuck in a rut… not good
So it’s time for some reflection…

Tema
My current location is in Tema.

Tema is to Ghana, like how Kaohsiung is to Taiwan. It is an industrial estate and a harbour town, so you will see a constant layer of smog in the air.
Of course, one cannot compare the infrastructure here in Ghana to Taiwan… asphalt roads are a luxury, even with it, it is dotted with pot holes are high humps (so high that your car needs to come to a complete stop) that makes travelling around here a bumpy experience. You can also see the amount of effort they put into city planning by conveniently putting a roundabout at every cross junctions… vehicles coming from all directions just have to work their way out themselves, instead of having traffic lights to control the flow of vehicles.

There is a huge Chinese community here…what I heard is that most are here for construction projects. Due to high inflation, some Chinese are also here to bring in their Made-in-China products that are cheaper than those produced in Ghana. With Chinese, comes social vices like gambling and lup-sup KTVs which is quite prevalent around here.

But all-in-all, Tema is generally a safe place … perhaps even comparable to Singapore.

Golden Cocoa Guest House
It is a bungalow-turned-staff accommodation rented by the company for their staff from mainly Indonesia & Malaysia working in Ghana. Food, laundry, and room cleaning services are all provided for, so there’s little to worry about here. There’s a gym where all equipment are not usable, so it’s only the good old free weights that I use for training. Plus lots of protein coming in from the fried chicken I eat for lunch & dinner almost daily, I’m sure I could put on some muscle bulk when I return to Singapore …LOL

There’s a small swimming pool that gets spurts of algae growth and debris floating all over… so when the pool is cleaned, I would jump in for a quick swim.

On Sunday mornings, it will be long runs. The flat dirt trail roads make good running surfaces.

Food isn’t fantastic, but I don’t pay for it, so I shouldn’t complain.
The chef seems to know only a few methods of cooking, so it’s either fried chicken or chicken in some unknown gravy… can I have a day of steam chicken? haha
But breakfast of barley porridge or oat porridge is awesome… full of fiber to help with digestion

Entertainment are few… but thanks to satellite TV provider that the guesthouse subscribed to, I get my daily dose of Al Jazeera news in the morning during breakfast, documentary/movies/football during dinner. Visited a lup sup bar called Manila Bar and a casino called Easy Win Casino, nothing great really…

Having foreign staff staying in the one place is a good idea, it provides good opportunity for bonding. Quite interesting to hear stories of “refugees” who worked in neighbouring Ivory Coast but got relocated to Ghana due to conflict, and people who worked in Africa for some time and observed the quirks of an African worker.

Work
And finally work…

My job is to help simplify the process of SAP entry, by coming up with a sort of “cheat-sheet” for users to follow when they do their entry. Upon further interaction with the users, they seem to know what they are supposed to do… and how what they are doing will affect other users.

Then my organisation supervisor wants me to come up with an Excel chart which users could use for reporting & uploading to SAP…
Then she wanted me to identify the sources of error that cause the accounts not being able to reconcile…

In other words, I’m being pointed in all directions without really knowing what I’m supposed to do… so now I’m actually quite lost.

I tried to exercise initiative by following the SAP team when they go around helping staff post entries, but I find myself sitting beside the SAP person watching her send emails to request authorisation for users…not helping at all & simply a waste of time!
And like I said, the users know what they are doing.

I also went to the production site to try to find out possible sources of error… really trying to do something I could…

I know that problems are not always what it seems… what we see is always a tip of an iceberg, or like a blind man feeling an elephant… the problem is always bigger than it seems.

I need to take a step back to see clearly so that I can provide a long-term solution to the real issue.

So now I’m here going through all reports again, hoping to see some light… hoping for a more enlightened tomorrow 😐

Professional Attachment 2011

June 8, 2011 at 10:25 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m pretty confident I could have gotten a good grade for my previous internship, but since it’s an unofficial one, I still have to do my Professional Attachment (PA) as part of my course requirement… but still, that internship was a good one and provided me a valuable learning experience!

I’m in Ghana now doing my PA. First week was spent travelling & trying to settle down; second week was the understanding of job scope and learning the operations of the company, very productive I must say; now in the third week, there seem to be a break in the momentum, getting stuck in the rut & not making any progress in work, reading the same report & reviewing the same process flow chart over & over again… no progress means no progress 😦

So I guess it’s time now to get into the reflective mood, and reviving this blog seems like a good idea… the only issue is the erratic Internet connection here that makes web-surfing a frustrating experience… oh well …

What is Lotus Notes?

September 1, 2010 at 03:50 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

http://www.nsftools.com/misc/WhatIsNotes.htm

My Internship Experience…

August 11, 2010 at 14:00 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reading up on “Havard Business Review on Knowledge Management”, came across this paragraph which perfectly summarises my internship experience.
“When Suchman asked the clerks how they did their jobs, their descriptions corresponded more or less to the formal procedures of the job manual. But when she observed them at work, she discovered that the clerks weren’t really following those procedures at all.
Instead, they relied on a rich variety of informal practices that weren’t in any manual but turned out to be crucial to getting the work done. In fact, the clerks were constantly improvising, inventing new methods to deal with unexpected difficulties and to solve immediate problems”

Enterprise 2.0

August 2, 2010 at 08:51 | Posted in Research | Leave a comment

Establish a portfolio of collaboration tools

Written by James Robertson, published November 5th, 2007

Categorised under: articles, collaboration, enterprise 2.0, intranets

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for collaboration needs within an organisation. Individual teams and business areas will have very different behaviours and requirements, and this must be reflected in the collaboration tools that are put in place.

To fully meet an organisation’s collaboration needs, a ‘portfolio’ approach should be taken. This involves providing a range of supported tools, and allowing each area to pick the functionality that they require.

This briefing explores the portfolio approach, and provides guidance on making it work in practice.

Different needs

There are many different situations within any organisation that fall under the heading of ‘collaboration’. Common examples include:

  • Team-based collaboration, where a small group of staff work on a single project or other ongoing task.
  • Communication and collaboration between a geographically dispersed group of staff, such as a working group or community of practice.
  • Collaborative creation of documentation.
  • Teaching and e-learning spaces that support educational needs.
  • Ongoing research projects, where researchers and other experts share information.

Each of these situations will require a unique mix of collaboration tools, processes and practices.

Specific needs will also be influenced by many other factors, including the skill and expertise of the participants, the frequency of face-to-face meetings, the type of information being shared, how geographically spread the group is, and the longevity of the information.

The result is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all collaboration solution that will meet all these needs. Nor is there a single ‘templated’ interface that can be rolled out unchanged across a whole organisation.

Many different tools

Instead, a ‘portfolio’ approach should be taken, where the organisation provides (and supports) a range of collaborative tools. This could potentially include:

  • wikis
  • blogs
  • forums or discussion boards
  • intranet subsites
  • mailing lists
  • simple document management
  • SharePoint or Notes
  • fileshares
  • instant messaging
  • online conferencing solutions

Whether these are provided as part of a single software suite, or as separate tools, all of these capabilities are likely to be needed in any medium to large organisation.

Corporate support

Corporate support should be provided to this portfolio of collaboration tools. This includes deployment onto corporate servers, with appropriate backup and other technical support.

‘Single sign-on’ should also be established across these tools by integrating them with the back-office LDAP or Active Directory services. This enables seamless use for all staff, without having new usernames and passwords.

Research should also be conducted to identify the most appropriate toolset, and to configure the tools to match specific organisational needs.

Selecting the right tools

With this diversity of tools, the challenge is to help staff select the most appropriate solution. A central team must therefore be established to play a ‘mentoring’ role, providing advice and support to users of the collaboration tools.

Good documentation and how-to information should also be developed, as part of a focus on identifying and communicating best practice in collaboration.

Size set sample

July 30, 2010 at 09:57 | Posted in Research | Leave a comment
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Variations in body sizes are becoming more apparent with advancements in body scanning technology and a number of sizing studies that give a more complete picture of an individual’s size.

It is common knowledge that no two bodies are the same. Although clothing sizes help to categorise bodies into general fits, each garment is going to hang a little differently depending on the consumer.

“Through 3D body scanning we can understand body size from a larger perspective,” says Dr Lenda Jo Connell, Under Armour Inc Professor of apparel, merchandising, design, and production from the department of consumer affairs at Auburn University, in Alabama, US.

“We can get a visual idea of a person’s shape and look at the array of different bodies. It’s not just about size it’s about how a person’s measurements play out into shape.”

While it would be easy to assume that standards in sizing have changed with the knowledge available, this is yet to happen.

“Changing the actual sizing still has a long way to go,” adds Connell. It still varies by retailer and is based on each retailer’s preferred measurements.

Large-scale sizing surveys such as SizeUK have helped us see how bodies have changed.

SizeUK captured 130 measurements (per person) for 11,000 people living in the UK. The comprehensive survey, which was completed in 2002, was the first time size had been measured so broadly in the country since 1951.

“We saw a very significant change in average measurements,” explains Andrew Crawford, director of Sizemic, a fashion technology company. “For example the average waist girth for females increased by 16cm since the original survey.”

Crawford, however, points out that we need to consider that we are, “comparing data with a time when hourglass figures were in fashion and the first survey was not as large.”

Although in general, “We are gradually getting larger and taller. Younger generations on average are bigger than previous generations.”

The same is true on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Connell notes that in the US, when a company decides on what sizes to offer, if they do not cater for the obese population then they cut out a third of the market. That said there is also a need for sizes at the other end of the spectrum.

“There are many different cultures in America, which represent many different sizes,” she says.

It’s the same in China, too, as size and fit specialist Alvanon found two years ago when it carried out China’s largest ever body measurement study, scanning over 28,000 people across the country.

Among its findings, which are designed to provide apparel brands and retailers with an insight into consumers in this huge and growing market, it discovered that the core body shape in China is smaller and more homogenous than in the US – which means a smaller number of clothing sizes are required to cater for them – and that the younger generation in eastern China is growing taller and heavier.

Tailoring to the target market
Addressing size and fit issues has a key commercial role to play too, by helping companies increase their sales – and full-price sell-throughs.

“One of the things we analyse for our clients is sales percentage by size,” explains Ed Gribbin, president of Alvainsight, a division of Alvanon.

“You would expect a bell-curve of sales by size, with smaller percentages at the ends of the spectrum. But we also take it one step further and look at full-price selling by size, because that shouldn’t be a bell-curve: you should sell an equally high percent at full price in your small size and your larger size as you do in your core size.

“Most merchants don’t think about it that way, but when they look at the pattern it becomes apparent that if they have a much higher sell-through in the larger sizes then they could potentially have some fit issues in the smaller sizes, or vice versa.”

Connell, meanwhile, believes more brands are figuring out what their target market is and then tailoring to that market. As well as seeing sizes go up we are also seeing sizes go down.

“A lot of it revolves around the brand. For example women’s clothing store Chicos used to be a more moderate sized brand but they have increased their size downwards.”

Brands may offer a range of sizes or two size ranges such as petite and tall, but offering a broad size range such as 0-22 can be hard for a clothing company, especially when it comes to grading a pattern.

Despite this, in the UK, Crawford has noticed an increase in size range – particularly when it comes to adding larger sizes. However, like Connell, he believes: “This [increased size range] can create huge logistical problems in terms of manufacturing, floor space etc.”

On the other hand: “It can create opportunities for niche retailers to target specific groups,” he notes.

Consistency in sizing is another crucial, but often overlooked, issue.

“If a brand can execute its fit consistently across categories – for example, a UK 12 – and maintain this from season to season, they build a competitive advantage through customer loyalty,” explains Gribbin.

Additional challenges
When it comes to taking products overseas, some retailers face more challenges than others.

Ed Gribbin says the sheer number of different product categories available from a retailer like Marks & Spencer presents more fit and sizing problems than those faced by Gap or Banana Republic, for example, who have relatively limited product lines.

“If [M&S] adjusts the fit for women’s dresses, what about women’s intimate apparel and casual sportswear?” he asks. “They have to adjust many categories, and it becomes a design, technical, production and logistics challenge because you have to co-ordinate so many different pieces of the puzzle.

Phuong Ngyuen, director of the Vietnamese clothing export company PTA Company, believes material and style also have a role to play when it comes to sizes that can be sold worldwide. “If the fabric stretches or if it’s a knitted garment, it can be worn by any country’s fit.”

She adds: “No body is perfect, so customers might prefer to wear one size bigger just to get a better loose looking fit in some styles and might also want to wear a smaller size to get a better tight fitting look in some other styles.”

Nguyen has noticed: “All the high end brands of Europe have stores in Asian countries, and Asians will pick the sizes that fit well on them no matter what is mentioned on size label, as long as they like the look of it and the price is attractive.”

But this also comes back to Gribbin’s observation that while there’s currently a great demand in Asia for western brands, most of this is based on novelty and newness; and if firms fail to adjust size and fit for local consumers “they’re going to hit a wall at some point.”

Price adjustments?
For companies targeting a larger sized population they might have to consider increasing their prices as people’s waistlines expand.

“In catalogue clothes shopping there is already a difference in pricing between larger and smaller sizes,” says Connell. “You may not notice this when you’re in a store, but it is happening.”

The same garment can have a different price depending on what sizing range it’s in: for instance in the US, ‘missy’ (or ‘misses’), ‘petite’, ‘tall’ etc. Connell stresses the most expensive part of costing is the fabric: if it takes more material to make a garment, it is going to cost more.

Crawford has noticed some moves to pass costs on to consumers in the UK. “Marks & Spencer has introduced higher prices for bigger bra sizes.”

Nguyen adds: “If the size range is large, then consumption of fabric or yarns will be more and obviously, the garment’s price will also be more than small sizes.

“The manufacturer will have to take into consideration every inch of fabric or every centimetre of yarn that they consume so they can lower the cost of the garment, but the buyer will not be happy to spend more on a big size than a smaller size. Not only when exporting [out of Vietnam] but also for sale among local customers.”

Companies need to consider the additional cost of larger sizes when determining their size range.

At the end of the day: “Consumers are loyal to brands with clothes that fit well for them. If every single brand sold the exact same sized clothing some people would find that no clothes fit them at all,” states Crawford.

Tailored, well-researched, and well-adapted sizing, rather than a one-size-fits-all motto, can help companies gain a competitive advantage.

By Karryn Miller.

SAP BPM best practices: Who should lead BPM initiatives?

July 29, 2010 at 10:52 | Posted in Research | Leave a comment
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wah…. BCG huat loh!!!

—————————————————————–

Business Process Management (BPM) is an idea that is clearly attractive, but ideas about who owns the BPM building process – business or IT — are still unclear in many organizations.

As Brian Wood — a BPM project manager currently studying IT management at the University of Technology, Sydney — noted, the biggest hurdles come from the way BPM projects tend to “step on operational managers’ toes.”

“Many of them derive a great deal of organizational power from being the sole source of expertise for a process, or associate prestige with the number of direct reports they control,” Wood said. “BPM can be seen to threaten both of these bases of power.”

It’s a platitude that BPM should be a collaborative process. But research by both Forrester and Gartner reveals that, in many cases, organizations either put IT or business in charge. A Gartner survey of BPM conference attendees, in which nearly half of attendees came from companies with more than $1 billion in revenue, revealed that BPM projects were led by IT or by business at nearly the same rate – 29% and 26%, respectively — with 41% reporting that these responsibilities were shared.

Similarly, another survey conducted by Forrester Research focused on who held the budget and the responsibility for BPM across the enterprise. “It ended up that there was a pretty even split between the business and IT sides,” said analyst Clay Richardson.

Who should be in charge of BPM initiatives?

Because BPM is a model-driven approach, IT often finds out about this approach first, and someone who is a senior business analyst will take on the role of BPM champion, Gartner’s Michelle Cantara said.

But the strongest BPM initiatives need to be able to work across functions, because BPM is intended to illuminate the hand-off gaps between functions. And finding business sponsorship, at the highest possible level, is crucial.

“Fundamentally, the business needs to be behind BPM,” Cantara said. “I recommend finding a senior business executive who is receptive to new ideas, has funding authority, is persuasive and is in pain because of some process – and that process is where you should start.”

In implementing BPM, the most important role is the change agent, Richardson said. These people may sit in business or IT, but regardless of their titles, they are the leaders in process change and transformation. “This person is really responsible for going out and identifying process opportunities and evangelizing throughout the organization,” he said.

Next, organizations should appoint a process guru, an individual who understand tools and working with IT and in some cases might have TQM or Six Sigma expertise. “The key is that they balance technical and business capabilities,” Richardson said.

Then there are the process analysts – people who really understand process and can engage the business to scope the process at a lower level and in some cases drive the process improvement project. Richardson said this role derives from that of the traditional business analyst. “To be effective, a process analyst has to be able to define a process solution and shape things around KPIs and metrics,” he said.

There are two additional roles that must be filled in a BPM project, he noted. One is the business analyst, who is often a process analyst wannabee. “They are the ones that can focus on requirements and documentation,” he said. And the final role is that of the operator or manager for the IT systems. “They are responsible for setting up the infrastructure, configuration, and maintenance of software and in some cases creating the solution.”

“It is hard to have a successful BPM program without having people across all these roles,” Richardson said.

Who leads BPM projects is often dictated by the project’s level of sophistication. At the lowest level, which Richardson refers to as the immature level, organizations are either just getting started with BPM or using BPM in a very basic way, typically to assist IT processes or develop applications.

The second level, called aspiring, includes organizations focused on using BPM for innovation, process transformation and enterprise-wide improvement. In those organizations, there is often some sort of centralized team focused on BPM, organized under IT or its own line of business and staffed by a wide range of talent, sometimes even including a VP of process.

The last category, termed mature, includes organizations that have adopted very specific process methodology like Six Sigma and build their operations around these specific methodologies.

Getting it done – BPM best practices

The real trick is finding an executive sponsor who also understands that the decisions he makes must optimize the end-to-end process, not just the outcome for a particular function, Cantara said. That can get tricky when multiple people in an organization share that process. For example, she said, if an executive is the sponsor for a customer on-boarding process for U.S. sales, he actually needs to make decisions that can benefit worldwide sales or some other region.

Another example might be a process that spans different functions. For example, if sales are measured based on the number of units and their associated revenue shipped but the distribution pipeline has been getting packed with products that aren’t selling, it is obvious that some aspect of the process is not visible. “That is where you would want sales and distribution logistics, whoever was in charge, to make a decision to optimize revenue, not just maximize sales. And that gets back to looking across functional gaps and measuring people appropriately,” Cantara said. Aside from simply finding a good executive sponsor, BPM advocates can help themselves by demonstrating success – ideally with something considered important, she said. “Once you have a few significant successes and the sponsors believe it is a better way of improving processes, at that point you have a platform – an argument – that you can take to an executive steering committee where larger investment decisions are made,” she said. Gartner now recommends that companies set up a business process competency center, which includes people with the core technical skills related to BPM.

One of the things that make BPM so valuable is that when businesses embed a process into a software application, it tends to become invisible, and business managers may lose any intuitive grasp of what is really going on. “The idea behind BPM is to give people a visual model that is appropriate and has the appropriate level of detail – the model for strategic planners will be different than for an architect or developer,” Cantara said. “It is like the different views into a database.”

Arena Swims to the Top with PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)

July 23, 2010 at 06:55 | Posted in Research | Leave a comment
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Posted On: 3/31/2010

Arena Swims to the Top with PLM

Founded in Italy during the early 1970’s, Arena is known for its authentic waterwear brands for athletes and sports lovers, and enjoys a following of top athletes and water sports lovers because of its reputation for best performing equipment and apparel.

Arena works diligently to maintain leadership in the field of top competition swimwear, investing on research and innovation to develop a best-in-class product range including high performance technical suits, glamorous styles and innovative beachwear and equipment.

Like most companies, Arena is challenged to bring the right products to market at the right time and to stay ahead of the competition. And, like many companies, says Vincenzo Gamberale, Arena Group’s global IT coordinator, “We were challenged by partly integrated processes, both internally and externally. This resulted in time wasted and risk of errors.”

Prior to implementing a new system, all company files were managed on local PCs, and all related procedures were manual, including modifications, updating and publishing on shared network folders. The collaborative flow was supported only through e-mails, resulting in misalignment and data inconsistencies with no control over procedural flows, and no opportunity to track changes on sketches or technical sheets including bill of material, construction specifications and fitting results. All of this disjointedness translated into disharmonized and time-wasting procedures in managing the product lifecycle.

The PLM approach and timeline

Arena knew it needed a consolidated PLM solution. Its approach was to create a PLM platform using Lectra Fashion PLM, a modular and scalable solution tailored specifically to the needs of the fashion industry.

Arena’s PLM system would consist of three integrated modules. The basic module is PDM, which represents the foundation of the entire solution, and is the basis for the other two modules, Workflow and Line Planning.

From the beginning, Arena defined a progressive implementation strategy, starting with PDM functionalities that could support the users’ operational flows. The initial analysis phase was scheduled from November 2007 through March 2008. Subsequently, Arena started a pilot project using its Fall/Winter 2009 collection, managing the data simultaneously with its legacy procedures until July 2008.

In September 2008, Arena officially launched the “go live” phase on PDM with its Spring/Summer 2010 collection. After procedures were fine-tuned and consolidated, Arena started the second phase, implementation of the Workflow module, in July 2009. The company devoted roughly one month to initial analysis, in order to define a “core” process flow to be implemented in the Spring/Summer 2011 collection.

Arena recently started the preliminary evaluation phase of the Line Planning module in order to conduct a thorough investigation of the factors determining the structure of its collections, both in quantitative terms relative to the balancing of styles and colors, to the financial aspects and the resources needed.

Technical requirements

Arena has a unique ERP solution implemented at a local level for each business unit. One of the goals the company wants to achieve with the PDM module is the creation of a centralized master repository to interface with the local ERP systems. Because of this situation, the PDM has been designed to match the requirements at a local level. Consequently, Arena was not constrained by the pre-existing IT system, with the only exceptions being the interfaces required between the local ERPs and the PDM module.

The basic prerequisite from a technical point of view was a solid platform with consolidated references. When Arena started this project, the team was aware that the Lectra Fashion PLM implementation would be the first on a Microsoft database, as all of Lectra’s customers at the time were on Oracle infrastructures.

There were, early on, some technical difficulties related to this, but Gamberale says that Arena received full support from Lectra to solve those issues, and further attributes the success of the project to the Lectra consultants’ knowledge of Arena’s business.

Other important factors contributing to success, according to Gamberale, were the commitment from the company’s internal management and the experience of the project work group.

The company was also flexible in its approach, making changes when needed. One of the goals of the Arena implementation, for example, was to adapt the software to the current procedures, trying to eliminate redundancies while rationalizing the processes and automating them.

While this worked in some cases, in others the company decided to adopt alternative flows in order to improve the legacy procedures, and was able to benefit in this regard from the previous experience of Lectra’s consultants.

Benefits of the Lectra Fashion PLM solution

Arena product design and development processes are centralized, from design through product engineering, to the modeling and fitting of the prototypes and samples, while the production is entirely outsourced to third-party vendors, typically in the Far East. The whole product development cycle involves a continuous interaction among both internal departments (such as sales, marketing and sourcing) and external parties (such as design studios, suppliers and commercial business units).

The primary advantages gained during the Lectra Fashion PLM implementation are all linked to the collaborative flows that the company is now able to execute in an effective way, says Gamberale. As a result, Arena has reduced time to market of whole collections while optimizing their costs. “We have minimized the errors and manual data re-entry, are able to track in real time all the product modifications that occurred and can share and approve in real-time the sketches made by the external design studios,” he says.

Additionally, the business units can select their own collections in an interactive way, and communication flow with business units and vendors is kept under control. “Finally, due to the centralized repository and web-based architecture, all data are updated in real-time and are promptly accessible by each one of the actors involved in the collaboration process at a world-wide level,” he adds.

Looking forward, Arena has started a process aimed to share and capitalize on the internal knowledge, which it expects to further improve the quality level of its collections.

The Arena Group contributed this story to Apparel.

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