ORCA is a large-format touchscreen first user interface for managing apparel production. While there are existing ERP and PLM packages for this industry, they are all either difficult to use or exceedingly expensive. Billion-dollar brands like GAP build and maintain their own internal applications to support the design to manufacture to retail process, but nothing like that exists for small companies operating $5 million in revenue or less. Given the cost and high technical barrier, many fashion brands don’t adopt an ERP or PLM system until they are over $10 million in revenue and it becomes inoperable to not do so.
The challenge lay in integrating user needs from a variety of different stakeholders. In smaller companies, people often will perform multiple roles. Also, the long term benefits of creating an easy to use interface lay in enabling the designers to more readily manage their own production, instead of needing to hire more production managers. I talked with many team members to gain insight on what their processes and needs are, especially paying attention to any current workflow steps that resulted in errors or double-checking.