How are today’s product development leaders using new technology and management skills to improve the process ?
Behind every successful brand is a capable product development team. They don’t only instruct their manufacturers by sending them tech packs. They’re also often involved in major decision-making processes right from the start. According to McKinsey & Company, nearly 80% of product managers are heavily involved in design and go-to-market processes, and 60% in pricing strategies. They advise designers and merchandisers on how to create feasible and profitable collections with their knowledge of materials and their cost, and the production time needed for each item. They help all supply chain actors keep an eye on the bottom-line. They ensure that the company’s design DNA and the brand identity remain intact. Hence, a company’s success is largely determined by how they can manage the product development process. INTECH has mapped out the general process as such in their article, New Product Development in the Fashion Industry: An Empirical Investigation of Italian Firms: design – prototyping – detailed engineering – material sourcing – production and distribution. Lectra’s experts have confirmed that over the years, this product development process has changed, not in terms of sequence but with regard to pace, volume and the amount of data that has been exchanged from one stage to the next.
How successful product development leaders are embracing and driving change ?
When companies have to continuously ‘read and react’ to sales results and adjust or produce more top-selling garments on top of their seasonal collections, teamwork has to be a lot tighter among all supply chain actors across the world. Firstly, for the ‘reading’ part, companies are ensuring that there is real-time, accurate data coming from stores, e-commerce platforms and marketing campaigns. Secondly, in order to ‘react’ faster, all team members and external suppliers are working with the same data and dynamic size charts. They are also communicating effectively using chat logs and visual tools that are intuitive and easyto-use instead of exchanging emails with Excel sheet attachments. The validation and collection reviewing process is often accelerated with the help of 3D virtual prototypes. This is trickier with sustainable materials, according to a Lectra customer specializing in outerwear, but can be done with renderings that are more realistic and a wider variety of fabric swatches. By collaborating effectively, companies avoid sizing errors, reworks, and overlapping tasks, and are able to speed up the process as a result.