PostsExpert Article

How to use Stibo's Product MDM to develop new products

2022-09-06 Tissa David
An illustration showing a product lifecycle from inception of idea over coneptual design over design development over sampling over award supplier over production over retirement.

Have you considered expanding your product master data capabilities to include the full lifecycle of your products, starting with the idea stage? At foryouandyourcustomers we have unlocked some great benefits by consolidating PLM and MDM processes into one single source of truth. 

I have been working in the Product Master Data Management (MDM) area for some time now, and am quite proficient in creating data models, workflows, integrations, and business rules to manage and distribute data of existing products. Recently I started working in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) area, covering data models, workflows and business rules of products that are being developed. There, I found the massive benefits of managing a product’s data and its lifecycle in a single source of truth within the same system. In this article I want to share my experience of configuring PLM using the Stibo STEP platform and highlighting some of its powerful features that retailers can use.

What is PLM? As the word describes, Product Lifecycle Management includes the processes involved in a product’s life from the inception of the idea to making the product to retiring the product from the market. In this article we are focussing on PLM workflows for the retail industry to enable launching their private labels products (= own brand products). The relevant PLM processes are shown in the diagram above.

PLM Capability in Stibo STEP

The lifecycle of a product can vary greatly depending on the retailer’s industry and the product type itself. Stibo STEP provides useful out-of-the-box PLM frameworks for the Food industry and the Footwear and Apparel industries.

These PLM frameworks have pre-configured workflow management, asset management and calendar management components that can be customised to meet the retailer’s needs. This significantly reduces the time to set up a solid foundation of the system and has accelerators help with onboarding product data which might be managed in offline spreadsheets. Workflows can be quickly adapted to the retailer’s specific processes and the system templates can help them to consider all aspects of a standard PLM process for their business. 

If an organisation has both their PLM and MDM in the same system like STEP then this can provide further benefits:

  • Reduce the time of product data processing from initial idea through to production.

  • Reduce risks and issues when integrating with other systems and reuse existing integrations.

  • Efficient handling of data which improves data quality by reducing errors or out of sync data.

  • Suppliers that are already set up in MDM can be utilised by PLM processes.

  • Efficiency in reusing the product categories already set up in the system.

  • Hand-off point of approved PLM product into the Product MDM, and thus automated availability of the product in the channels when needed.

  • Same terminology of the product data in both PLM and MDM brings clarity and quality.

Let’s look into the life cycle management of the two product types.

Food’s Life Cycle

Grocery retailer ABC is planning to introduce a new brand product, ABC Fruit Yoghurt, into the market. They are in the initial stages of product development, and the Stibo STEP software shows all components of a product needed in the out-of-the-box solution. 

Stibo STEP food solution components.

An illustration of a yoghurt package. Labels around: Product Details, Packaging Specification, Product Specification, Ingredients, Additives, Recipe Specification, Requirements

For ABC Fruit Yoghurt PLM the different processes involved are as follows:

  1. The product’s conceptual design is developed.

  2. Product details like recipe, packaging and SKU specifications associated with the product are entered and managed.

  3. The specifications will be sent to the prospective suppliers to get their responses like whether they can meet the requirements and specifications.

  4. Supplier responses are received, and it will be evaluated.

  5. Award the supplier who will be producing the product.

  6. When the product is ready for production, it can be transferred to the MDM system to manage the product details efficiently for the rest of the product’s journey.

  7. When the product is discontinued after its entire product life cycle, the product will be set to the retirement status and can be stored in the product MDM system as an inactive product for future reference.

Apparel’s Life Cycle

The apparel retailer XYZ is using the Stibo STEP system for their PLM journey, and they want to introduce a new collection to their range of XYZ Men’s T-shirts. The Stibo solution for the apparel PLM has different inbuilt components that can be used by the retailer. The overview of some of the components are shown in the diagram below.

Stibo STEP apparel solution components.

An illustration of a t-shirt. Around some labels: Product Details, Construction, Measurement, Digital Assets, Material, Colour. Above process steps: Storyboard, Line Planning, Product Design, Sampling, Approval for Production.

The process flow of the apparel product is similar to the food product. Once all the details needed for the product development are considered and entered into the system, the fabric samples will be sent to the prospective suppliers. When the samples are received back from each supplier, they will be evaluated and approved for production. Once the product is ready as the final product it can be pushed into the MDM.

Key Learnings

Many retailers still manage their PLM processes through spreadsheets and lists. However, these can be automated using the same functions that we also see in a mature Product MDM – in particular, if the same platform is used. If the same system is used for both MDM and PLM, automation and integration become much simpler and a single source for product data is established by design. Further efficiencies can be achieved by reusing supplier data and supplier workflows and retiring traditionally spreadsheet-driven processes.

Our team at foryouandyourcustomers Melbourne has unparalleled skills in designing and implementing Stibo Systems MDM software with the aid of our proven proprietary methodologies. We are proud to have deep expertise in Europe and in Australia for data management solutions and are passionate about helping our customers in maturing their product lifecycle management capabilities.

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If you think this type of solution can help in your business then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and start a conversation.