The way the quintessentially British brand OKA became so much better at product management

The way the quintessentially British brand OKA became so much better at product management

OKA offers exquisite, unique collections of furniture and accessories that are designed to inspire practical living and effortless entertaining. The British home furniture and home accessories brand was founded more than 20 years ago by a trio of inspirational and inspired women.

Since 1999 much has changed. In that year, Viscountess Annabel Astor, Sue Jones and Lucinda Waterhouse launched OKA Direct as a mail order interiors company. This was followed by the brand’s first store in 2000, in West London.

Turn the clock forward to 2019 and OKA has not only significantly increased the number of stores, but also its international relevance. With clients in many countries and a launch of the brand in the USA, the requirements of the business have changed significantly. From the number of products offered, to the complexity of these products and the international information requirements, which all add to the pressure on product related teams while staying on top of their roles.

OKA started to look at system solutions to help manage their growth challenges and chose to bring in the WFX Cloud PLM system in 2018. By the end of that year their product team was live on the system and as 2019 progressed the business chose to expand the use of the system and make full use of the WFX systems extensive capabilities.

As the WFX Cloud PLM system was predominately developed for the fashion industry, many of the plethora of features that were built into the system helped OKA to manage the more complex product development requirements that their furniture and other complex products have.

Because of the positive experience the company had with WFX and our UK team, they were more than happy to participate in a video. As the video shows, OKA have benefited from the significant step-change that the PLM system has helped them to make. The team are progressing their processes from strength to strength, including their key suppliers into their system environment and managing tasks, approvals, product status and production order overviews with ease.

So, what does a PLM system like WFX Cloud offer? Essentially it helps a business, like OKA, to manage the lifecycle of a product from the initial plan (collection planning) through its development stages and production cycle. This includes the creation of the product specification with all its details, the approval stages that product may go through and the management of all the tasks, milestones, costing and pricing. This is then topped off by the management of suppliers, factory audits, production orders and tracking.

More recent enhancements, such as the addition of a Digital Asset Management Suite (DAM) and enhancements of how users of design software like Adobe Illustrator are able to bring their artwork into product specifications (or Techpacks) are examples of how the system adapts and grows to enable companies like OKA to continue their upward trajectory.

Excerpts from the video:

Nick Goodfellow, Product Development Director

We looked at various systems. We had quite a fragmented way of working and had decided that what we were really looking for is to have the information all in one place. So rather than a number of individuals having excel spreadsheets that could be in various places on a network we wanted something that brought it all together. WFX was the answer.

Kaye Conder, Product Development Manager

Previously it was quite difficult to share all the information that all the various department that needed certain aspects of our product knowledge.

WFX has been fantastic for the business. Its enabled us to look at the colour palettes for the season, what products we want to launch, where we may have gaps. It has been a fantastic tool for us to launch new seasons.

Jessica McAuley, Product Development Coordinator

Tracking information was really difficult and we had many departments all wanting different information at the same time.

Emeline Fisher, Product Development Coordinator (former)

We have to work very closely with our technical departments, particularly for furniture. There are allot of regulations and paperwork that we need to have. We share this with our technical department. For them to be able to see product by product exactly what point we are at and what documentation we have. Ordinarily we would email this back and forth but with WFX they can just look, and it has shown what an important part of the business the sharing of this information is.

Nathan Day, Quality & Technical Manager

It is really important for the business to be sending out information to suppliers in a standardized way. WFX has enhanced the quality of OKA’s products by suppliers and our inspection teams knowing exactly what we want.

Emeline Fisher, Product Development Coordinator (former)

The way the training has been carried out has been very interactive, which has been fantastic for us. Because we in product development work on such different products we found that we might be using the system in a slightly different way. We have been able to have those discussions and see how it works for everyone.

Nick Goodfellow, Product Development Director

The relationship has been excellent. The whole process has been a joy from start to finish. Could not fault it.

Kaye Conder, Product Development Manager

OKA is expanding all the time. We are opening various more showrooms. We are also looking to export into other countries. We really need a software that supports us in our different needs. With WFX we feel that is what we are getting.

Related Links:

More information about PLM

Contacting Perfit Systems for information or demonstration

https://www.oka.com/

https://perfit.systemsloud-plm-by-wfx

https://www.wfxondemand.com/index.html

https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/11/annabel-astor-british-noble-ginge-manor

https://bronto.com/customers/oka/

https://conceptable.com/consultancy-for-fashion-performance-and-leisure-product-businesses/b2b-b2c-technology/

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