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Textile-Focused Software Solutions

Selection process, implementation of manufacturing software solutions are key to success in textile operations.

Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

computerY ou don’t have to look hard to find a textile professional who has a horror story to tell about a software solution gone wrong in a textile company. Planning gone awry, product tracking off-track, dealing with roll goods, a round peg in a square hole in some programs, non-textile language for basic textile processes, the never-ending implementation — and the list goes on. Some of the pitfalls arise from the technology, while others arise from the process — what is needed, who has the right solutions, and how can they be implemented without putting your company out of business?

By the same token, Textile World has observed many companies that view their systems from a variety of vendors as a major part of their success — often linking basic manufacturing information seamlessly across a global supply chain. One past TW Innovation Award winner even confided that the company had decided to support its global operation from its stateside headquarters because of the level of confidence it had achieved with its systems.

Seven Steps
To understand how any textile company could hedge its bets for a successful implementation, TW met with John Blasman Sr. and John Blasman Jr., two members of the family team behind Cambridge, Ontario-based JOMAR SOFTCORP International Inc., for some hints based on JOMAR’s textile experiences. The team also includes Software Development Manager Mark J. Blasman; and Marianne K. Blasman and Paul E. Blasman, both heavily involved with project management. JOMAR provides a broad range of scalable solutions for small companies to global enterprises and has experience in traditional textile manufacturing, apparel applications, floor covering, polymer formulation, performance yarn and fabrics, and more, drilling down to the process level for tasks such as formulation and recipe management.

“JOMAR uses a seven-step process to effect a positive outcome, but realistically, most of these steps would benefit any company considering enterprise or e-business solutions,” said JOMAR CEO John C. Blasman Sr. “Initially, the company must assess its priorities. This step is the jumping-off point and sets the groundwork for looking for and evaluating appropriate solutions, whether it is enterprise, e-business or traditional manufacturing solutions. It also establishes where it is with current systems. Will these need to be integrated or replaced?

“Secondly, the company needs to allocate knowledgeable people and build a project team. Putting the right people on the team is challenging for all involved, particularly when they have many responsibilities, but the right people can make or break the process.”

The Blasmans stress that making sure the team has the breadth of business and systems knowledge, regardless of company size, is important. However, making sure the members can commit the time necessary is also a major factor.

“The third step might not be available with all vendors,“ Blasman Sr. said, “but this is when we do a conference room pilot.” He went on to explain that the pilot is the process of matching individual business needs with the software products, and decisions are made regarding necessary scope and functionality. In the end, a project implementation plan is created.

“Once the pilot is complete, we have a real handle on the expectations of the project,” said President John A. Blasman Jr. “The fourth step is setting up the project implementation and focusing on a priority-based execution. With this in mind, we use the JOMAR hosting facilities to allow the team a broad selection of platforms. This allows the team to use the solutions they are interested in prior to execution.” This fifth step gives team members flexibility in verifying the choices made as well as the fit with priority-based execution, he added.

“The sixth step involves testing and preparing the switch to new systems,” Blasman Sr. said. “If a client and vendor have worked well together, this is the moment of truth.”< /font>

“We don’t want to oversimplify the process,” Blasman Jr. added. “Each of these steps is necessary and takes hard work. But the reality is that the solutions available today and the experience level that is available with very specific system solutions make this much more approachable than early solutions for the textile industry. We really have come a great distance with that.”

Refine And Improve
The final step at the completion of the project, according to the Blasmans, is a post-audit of the implementation and systems in order to improve and refine the software solutions. “The relationship of the client and vendor really doesn’t end there,” Blasman Jr. said. “ Manufacturers should make sure they feel comfortable with the relationship. The vendor must stay abreast of changes in the products and technologies as well as the changing needs of the clients. The technology is just part of the story. A good solutions provider needs to be willing to understand the client’s business and the challenges they face to be successful.” September/October 2007

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