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As brands work to reduce lead times throughout the supply chain based on the demands of a consumer-centric market, companies such as Backbone PLM, a solution firm based in Boulder, Colo., is enabling them to take greater control over the product development process — from conception to completion.

Backbone’s operating system allows users to manage the “chaotic” process of creating products through its integrated solution, which shortens time to market and can ultimately boost product quality, the company said. Through its cloud-based customizable “tech packs” that streamline communication and collaboration for product development needs, Backbone files the gamut of artwork, project data, revisions, costing and updates into a single solution that can be edited through any device. Its platform solves the common conundrum of “version control” by proficiently recording revision history in lieu of siloed spreadsheets.

The combined experience of Backbone cofounders Matthew Klein, who worked for several fashion trade show companies, and Andrew Klein, a past designer at Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, equipped the Kleins’ with deeper insights into the requisite tools for speedy and seamless product development.

Backbone works with more than 100 brands, including Kith, Stitch Fix, Warby Parker, Outdoor Voices, Chubbies, All Birds, Opening Ceremony and Dyne.

“With an ever-changing retail landscape, consumer goods companies must create an iron-clad supply chain and that supply chain starts with Backbone,” chief executive officer Matthew Klein told WWD. “We are the version of truth and the front line for companies of all sizes. They trust Backbone to help manage all of the product data that will go into making a world-class product.”

Prior to Backbone, brands would manually manage inventory, product images, CAD files, size specs, purchase orders, materials, color standards and billing, which led to employee errors, revenue loss and miscalculated inventory, among other inefficiencies. These aspects of the supply chain are mechanized via Backbone’s solution, as well as ownership of color stories for seasons, milestone calendars and flexible fields for customization, which are available through its admin control panel.

Andrew Klein, who serves as chief product officer, said at most companies, “approvals gridlock as they flow through a few key people within the organization. Backbone opens up these arteries by digitizing this historically manual process and giving collaborators confidence in the approval process through visibility into exactly what’s pending, on-hold, needs review and approved. These workflow improvements positively impact the business by allowing users to get more done, focusing less on data management and more on their respective user roles.”

Only 51 percent of new products are launched on time and a significant number of product development projects yield high cost over-runs, according to a report by CGN Global. The same report also revealed that process quality issues negatively impact the processes for new product development.

Andrew Klein said the company is “empowering design companies of all sizes and types to make more accurate decisions based on the understanding of how the components within each design impact cost, quality and schedule. This level of visibility reduces the ambiguity and the variety of possible outcomes based on arbitrary decisions.”

“Over the course of any design season, collection or quarter, thousands of decisions are being made that can either keep a project on time and within budget or steer it off course. Using a software solution that’s dynamic, intuitive and flexible, allows teams to create matrices around construction, lead times and costs as they finesse the best balance of each of these factors,” he added.

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