TECHNIA Senior Business Consultant Birgitta Fordyce reflects on how fashion production has evolved from faxed designs to integrated IT.
TECHNIA Senior Business Consultant Birgitta Fordyce reflects on how fashion production has evolved from faxed designs to integrated IT. When Birgitta completed her studies in design and product development, IT’s role in fashion was still in its infancy. “I worked in product development for a leather garment company. I made the product specifications, measurement charts and followed up with the sample handling. It feels like another world when remembering how we made it all by hand. The only IT support was a template in a word document which was sent out by fax before leaving the office in the evening”, she says. As her career progressed, she “became more and more involved in the sourcing process and spent a lot of time travelling to Asia for meetings with suppliers and inspections at factories.”
It was at Adidas Nordic – working as a product manager – that she cut her teeth in IT: “I became involved in different IT projects, implementing different support systems. Being a key user in one of the implementations, I realized I really liked being involved, as I had a chance to influence and help define new work processes – and educate users.” From there, it felt like a “natural step” when she saw TECHNIA were hiring Business Consultants, “I could then develop within a new field where I still could use and share all my earlier work life experience.”
Birgitta’s work at TECHNIA has given her a fresh appreciation for how much the fashion industry has changed, as digital processes have developed. She says her experience helps her educate clients on how much easier PLM can make their jobs, “I wish I had a PLM system when I started my career. Now, I like to help companies and people to see how processes can be smoother and more efficient with the right system support.” It’s not always easy though. People get stuck in old ways of doing things, and it falls to her to “challenge people’s mindset, to adapt to new ways of working during a system implementation”, a process that requires “being patient, listening, taking it step by step, and explaining how the new system and processes will help them.”
Globalization has presented other difficulties. Birgitta says, “it’s a challenge, being global with different work sites – with a buying office in one country, production offices spread out around the world and decisions taken on the move.” She continues, “communication happens via e-mail and phones and it’s difficult for everyone involved to know what the last decision was, and be able to act on that. This often leads to quality issues, and a lack of traceability that makes the company vulnerable.” But if approached correctly, PLM systems can help to overcome these communication breakdowns: “ideally, we start with workshops where we gather people from different parts of the business. We often hear the same issues from different departments. We can then put together common processes and look into how they would best benefit from a PLM system.” The most important thing is to always be “clear and honest.” A motto to live by.