Authors: Prasanna Halappa, Ashok Ganeshappa, and Hemanth Srinivas


Any retail business that uses PLM constantly feels the need for reports that provide insight into what’s happening in different areas of product development. During the development process, product managers, designers, color managers, and sourcing teams work collaboratively to ensure everything runs smoothly when a product hits production.

Consistent, robust, and accurate data that is presented in a timely manner is necessary for clarity when making decisions that steer advanced product development towards the organization’s vision.

FlexPLM stands out in the industry as a collaborative tool to support the PLM process. But, the data managed in the system has been tied under complex database rules. There is no standard way to present the data in easy to digest business reports.

With a complex problem at hand, ArcherGrey LLC was determined to create a comprehensive solution. Enter the ArcherGrey Extractor Engine — a tool that gives organizations the ability to mine into a simplified data structure.

Why an Extractor Engine?

A car without a powerful engine won’t cut it when your intention is to take it on a racing track. Likewise, the data managed in PLM is powerful but if you don’t have a mechanism to transform it into a consumable report, you don’t have the right tools for success. In an era where decisions are driven more on data than anything else, we need an engine that drives results through simplicity.

Mismanaged line planning. It’s not uncommon for product managers to review the production plan with their team, only to realize that some necessary data is missing entirely. Early visibility would have kept these problems from slipping through to the later planning stages.  

Too much money spent on lab dips. Teams spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to select the right material colors to use on their palettes. But, in most cases, a large percentage of these material-colors will be not be used even though they were created for the seasonal palette. A strong lab dip tracking report solves this problem by allowing product managers to make judgments on the patterns leading to the inefficiency.

Engine – What for?

Without the right tools, PLM data is complex and insufficient. Why is this? Well, product vendors often don’t detail any information on how they structure data. Even when you have an in-house IT department, you don’t want to use valuable resources to understand somebody else’s data structure to meet your needs.

ArcherGrey has built an Extractor Engine to pull data from the vendor’s complex product data management structure into a simplified yet powerful data model. Now, your BI team can use this model to pull reports on any leading visualization tools (Qlik, ThoughtSpot, MicroStrategy, etc. )

* We are not claiming any of the above tools to be better than others. It’s purely at an organization’s discretion to prefer one over the other.

In the tech industry, everything is fast-paced. Being able to make the right moves in a timely manner is crucial. The majority of retailers are looking to enlist a product or process that can help them do this. They want to know, what is available on the market, who else is using it, and what is the ROI?

Vendor-hosted meetups help retailers gain exposure to the innovations, trends, and capabilities of the latest technologies. Education on the technological offerings, platforms supported, road map, consultation, services, licensing and support are crucial for evaluating ROI.

Using PLM to Drive Advanced Product Development

Let’s not treat PLM as just another system under the umbrella of advanced product development. Let’s leverage its capabilities to the fullest; make it a powerhouse for product innovation, sourcing, lab dips, sampling, bill of material analysis, and cost optimization. The data available in your external systems should be integrated into your PLM system. This will strengthen the data mining process to generate reports. You can, and should, integrate your PLM system with your systems that enable planning, sourcing, product testing, compliance, and finance.

ArcherGrey’s extractor engine enables this process by combining data so reports can be generated from a single source of truth. To achieve success with this process, you need a team that can bring all the pieces together.

Ready to Deploy

Many organizations have already successfully centralized expertise around a given initiative. A PLM Center of excellence should be created to assemble an All-Star team. One key step is to build the team around pre-packaged solutions to avoid over customization. This is why the Extractor Engine is so useful — it has a built-in capability to be used in tandem with tools that are widely used across the retail industry.

In addition, the Extractor Engine can adapt to customer needs. There will always be new types of data entering the industry that help organizations optimize their retail business. The engine is robust enough to support these industry and business specific needs.

Not only does the Engine have these data capabilities, but it encourages visibility into this data.  You can have reports sent to your inbox, so you don’t need to knock on the IT department’s door to pull reports for you.

Easy to Maintain

It’s teachable. We will consult, recommend, implement, and transition this knowledge to your in-house IT department through a workshop. Through this workshop, we will provide IT folks with a good understanding of the database/java technology so they can maintain and enhance the system as business needs evolve.

It’s flexible. The solution supports different operating systems and database platforms.

It’s scalable. Value is not measured by how satisfied your product development group is today, but is based on how well the solution will meet the expectations of tomorrow. When there are changes in the underlying architecture of the vendor package, the Extractor Engine can be repackaged to accommodate those changes.

Let ArcherGrey SMEs Help Instill Confidence

In any industry, experience that leads to expertise holds great value. ArcherGrey has decades of experience in PLM — from its humble beginnings to where it is today. They will help you in your journey to use the Extractor Engine in a way that optimizes the data you already have.

Workshops to understand user pain points and challenges when it comes to accessing data will reveal the unique aspects of your problem. ArcherGrey will be your partner for successful execution by owning the responsibility to deliver what your organization needs — data that’s easy to digest.


Tight timelines, emerging market trends, and compliance complexities place a lot of stress on advanced product development and sourcing processes. Data is key to make the right decisions, but you need the right data to do this effectively.

To ease the burden, stakeholders need simple reports to make important decisions. Let’s put faith in a solution that will enhance the value of these reports by leveraging data from PLM.

Key Takeaways

  • Know your data. Then, power the engines that can get you the right data at the right time.
  • Define what you need out of product development systems like PLM.
  • Partner with industry leaders in the PLM domain who bring vast experience. This is a partner who can consult, amend, and carry a solution through to completion.
  • Evaluate the value not just in terms of immediate benefits, but to meet the demands of the future.

About the Authors

Prasanna Halappa leads the FlexPLM Consulting Practice at Archer Grey LLC.  He has over 18 years’ experience in product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies and strategies.  Prasanna has experience helping clients across retail and manufacturing in every area from strategy development to technology implementations.

Ashok Ganeshappa is a Senior implementation consultant at ArcherGrey LLC. He has over 14 years’ experience in consulting and implementing product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions. Ashok has experience helping many clients in the retail industry from exploring the most pressing issues of an organization to delivery of a PLM solution.

Hemanth Srinivasa is a Senior implementation consultant at ArcherGrey LLC. He has over 8 years’ experience in consulting and implementing product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions. Hemanth specializes in developing and executing full PLM roadmaps for clients.

About Archer Grey, LLC

Whether you’re just beginning the PLM journey, looking for ways to optimize an existing solution, have poor adoption, or no significant ROI, ArcherGrey is here to assess, guide, and help you deliver a solution that works.

ArcherGrey’s comprehensive PLM service offerings span a system’s complete life cycle – from initial strategy and planning, through design, development, and deployment, to ongoing system maintenance, upgrades and support, then finally, retirement. We strive to provide highly effective solutions that are aligned with your environment that enable your business objectives while equipping your staff with the proper knowledge and training to be self-sufficient moving forward. Contact us for a 30-minute discussion where we will discuss a plan of how to align our services with your business needs and goals. 

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