As I begin to write this blog on FMS, SAP is currently working on release 2.0 with many in the fashion community awaiting with awe to see this version being made generally available in Q4/2015.
So what is FMS?
Earlier fashion companies dealing with apparel, footwear and accessories product lines were either into wholesale and/or manufacturing while the others were primarily into retailing. With the fashion evolution, more and more apparel/footwear companies have a blurred line that differentiates wholesale, manufacturing and retailing. Meaning, fashion wholesalers are getting into manufacturing and retailing to increase their revenues and brand image. While fashion retailers (private labels) are moving towards wholesales and investing in manufacturing capabilities to improve quality and to have an enhanced control on their brands.
In the current situation most vertically managed fashion companies run their daily operations as two different business processes using separate ERP landscapes:
– SAP AFS (Apparel & Footwear Solution) to manage wholesale and/or manufacturing
– SAP Retail to manage own retail business
There are many challenges that fashion companies are currently facing due to running two separate ERP landscapes. Besides, complex data integration being the key challenge, there is no single source of truth available for Global Inventory today. If fashion companies need to be supported more effectively and holistically the need of the hour was to merge the data/processes running in two separate ERP systems into one single ERP system.
SAP Fashion Management Solution (FMS) is designed to do just that! In one single box, SAP has an integrated solution in place that enables fashion companies to deal with wholesale, manufacturing and retail processes using harmonized master data and leveraging the core ERP for Retail as the fundamental platform. SAP has also promised to make the “AFS Solution Flavor” available in FMS.
In essence, FMS would be the new AFS for apparel, footwear and fashion companies.
Besides the many challenges involved in any new product development, the key challenge would be the migration strategy that SAP would adopt to install base AFS/Retail fashion customers – Ensuring data integrity and consistency while strategizing and designing the tool for migration from AFS to FMS and for migration from Retail to FMS.
It would be interesting to know SAP’s future course of action on handling the general product support for the running AFS install base. Some questions that come to my thinking:
– Would it be mandatory for all AFS customers to upgrade to FMS?
– How about fashion companies only into wholesale business and NOT into manufacturing and retailing? Are such companies also required to upgrade to FMS?
Perhaps, it would take some time for FMS to be the fashion industry “new de-facto solution” but I would assume AFS to still be a key solution player at least until all necessary functionalities that AFS has is made available in FMS!
AFS/Retail running customers should ideally think of an upgrade to FMS as a long term planning strategy.