Timing is everything in our business; time lost due to poor planning from the development side can result in customers having to take deeper markdowns than initially planned or the producing company bearing the cost of late goods with air shipments. These scenarios can easily be avoided by not only making sure timelines realistically reflect lead times, but also by proactively managing changes in deliveries and approvals as they occur within the development process. As changes occur, and changes will happen, one has to be prepared to quickly communicate these changes and develop alternatives which will help keep development and/or production on schedule.
This is why merchandising calendars are typically a starting point in the development planning process. The merchandising calendar serves as a both a guide to keep me on task as well as to help insure cross-functional teams are clear on and working within the established timelines.
Please click on the file below to review a representative merchandising calendar. The attached product development merchandise calendar has been saved as a pdf file, but I will be happy to provide the original excel file complete with formulas during a scheduled meeting.
In the spreadsheet, I've included established lead times in the formulas so as the approval dates on the top line change, then the dates adjust for all other development and production functions.
Technology is great, but not every organization I've worked for is willing or able to afford product management systems. The truth of the matter is that most of the reporting systems incorporated in these programs rely on the same or very similar concepts involved creating Excel spreadsheets. Therefore being able to track development and production using Excel spreadsheets is an important skill set as it gives me the flexibility to manage product development functions in a way that best fits the organization.
The files attached are a couple of examples of spreadsheets I've created to help manage product development and approvals. These spreadsheets have often been used in conjunction with merchandise planning calendars as product management tools. Tables and charts can be created from the information to quick share with cross-functional teams, customers, and/or upper management.
I love working with cross-functional teams as well as overseas partners to figure out how we can lower the base cost. Do we need to see if we can save on cost by revising the specs or technical aspects of the garment? Can we change from a flap to a welt pocket and still maintain design integrity? Maybe if we change the zipper brand or type, we can save some money? Is there a more competitive factory we can book this program and still maintain quality and lead times? Are there minimums we can book for other programs to offset development and/or production costs?
The possibilities are endless and requires the cooperation and feedback of the various teams (design, merchandising, sales, buying, and production) involved as well as developing relationships with vendors that are transparent, built on trusts and mutual goals. We all understand satisfied customers are good for all respective businesses involved in the supply chain.