Barry Duncan

A Core Capabilities Assessment Is Critical for Successful Digital Transformation

For each unique client operating in the apparel sector, Panamoure advocates a Core Capabilities Assessment. This comprises a consideration of 20 or so core elements (and additional retail sub-elements, as required), when mapping out a client’s existing capabilities against what IT and digital components will be required to help it achieve ambitious growth targets and meet its strategic goals. 

Digital Transformation – Panamoure’s Generic 3 Core Capabilities Assessment 


Depending on where the apparel manufacturer, or retailer, is in terms of technology adoption and integration, an extensive level of complexity is not always necessary or desirable. It completely depends on client needs but considering each of those 20 items at the outset serves to highlight important gaps and what critical steps can and should be addressed in order to deliver a rapid Return on Investment. Whether the project might ultimately require the implementation of generic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms provided by vendors like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft or Infor, or sector specific solutions developed by Panamoure’s Offshore Delivery Centre, (or the likes of Shopify, EKM and WooCommerce) technology-agnostic, pragmatic and cost-effective assessment will allow digitally immature clothing retailers and manufacturers to determine the most appropriate technology solution and to formulate a roadmap for the implementation of the agreed transformation. 

Some clients choose to skim over this Discovery Phase, preferring to “get cracking” with actual technological change. This can be problematic as the phase is essential to avoiding expensive adjustments later in the project. For some small and mid-sized companies and organisations, any one of these elements might represent a significant transformation in terms of digital application. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when looking for “digital transformation”.  It very much depends on the client’s level of digital maturity, what technology the client has in place already, its strategic aims and the level of in-house IT human capital it already possesses.  

Conducting a “Discovery Phase” like this, whether clients are big or small, digital novices or digitally mature, enables a detailed mapping of what is currently in place, what is fit-for-purpose and good to support the projected growth. It can also identify what might be superfluous and be significantly rationalised or what could do with decommissioning completely. The exercise also permits the mapping of a detailed Complexity and Benefits Matrix, specific to each apparel retail business.  

An Optimisation Roadmap and Complexity-Benefits Matrix Will Help Identify Low-Hanging Opportunities and Which Larger Implementations Will Deliver Greater ROI  

Part of the Discovery Phase will involve matching the end-goal of the client’s digital optimisation aspiration with whatever they might already have in place in the way of IT infrastructure and digital applications.  

Here is an illustrative example of a Complexity-Benefits mapping exercise that Panamoure typically conducts in reviewing what clients have already, what needs changing and the relative complexity of making those changes compared with the gains that might be expected.  

Illustrative Complexity and Benefits Matrix 

As the graphic illustrates, some exercises are more complex than others. It is simply indicative and picks out some of the more frequently encountered applications to be enhanced by clothing retailers, whether that be ERP implementation, CRM or data analytics integration and the increasingly important attention to data privacy and security.  

Every project is unique. Every proposed solution for that digital aspiration will necessarily be bespoke. As previously indicated, a full, true “transformation” should involve appropriate levels Discovery and Planning, across both IT systems and personnel. So, it is worth pointing out that many companies’ aspirations are relatively modest or of a scale requiring relatively little in the way of IT collateral which could potentially make digital optimisation a relatively straightforward task. 

Larger clients pursuing more substantial optimisation projects will benefit from more extensive mapping exercises. In the long run, it can save considerable expense. The relative positions of the sample of items presented above will vary depending on relative complexity and benefit, how it fits with each company’s individual growth strategy, the company’s existing IT infrastructure and its in-house IT talent capability. It is an essential exercise in identifying “low-hanging fruit”, where gains can be rapidly achieved and with relatively little in the way of investment cost. It also helps to focus where substantial investment might be required and the relative complexity of some of those IT optimisation choices. 

That’s it for this week. In the last post, at the risk of repeating ourselves, we’ll reiterate our recommendation for apparel retailers, manufacturers and distributors to evolve your business models. You might be surprised at the resulting growth and longer-term cost savings to be gained. 


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