Polo Ralph Lauren

International Licensing Division Internship

During the summer of 1998, I was a member of a team of students from Fordham’s Graduate School of Business who interned at Polo Ralph Lauren (PRL) in their Information Systems department. The team was assigned to work with the CIO of PRL, along with some outside consultants, on a project to update and streamline the business processes of their International Licensing Division (ILD). The ILD served PRL as the liaison between the company headquarters and the numerous international licensing partners who designed, produced and distributed PRL clothing in international markets. A key function of the department was to ensure that designs developed by the licensees were in keeping with the standards of PRL’s domestic brand, product, and image.

Business Problem

The focal point of the assignment was the fact that the daily operations and processes of the ILD needed to be drastically overhauled and updated. The day-to-day communications between the ILD and their licensees consisted of telephone calls, letters, multiple daily overnight packages and inefficient (and that is generous) internal business processes. The task of the team was to help plan and define a modern solution that would bring PRL to the cutting edge of business processes and information management in order to drive greater efficiencies in their business. In order to get to this point, the Fordham student team was responsible for:

  • Interviewing key stakeholders to understand business processes
  • Documenting the existing business processes and situation
  • Conceptualizing the parameters of a viable solution
  • Defining preliminary production needs and prospective development vendors
  • Deliver a recommendation

Project Solution

The focal point of the project’s solution was the recommended development of an extranet solution enabling both PRL and its licensees to communicate, share information, track decisions, and streamline business processes. Implementing such a solution would enable ILD to document and adhere to streamlined business processes, enable more efficient communications between the headquarters and the international licensees, and eliminate the need to use overnight delivery as the main mode of distributing designs, swatches, and concepts between the invested parties. Every team member was involved in a variety of sub-projects and assignments related to the overall project. However, team members were also given specific assignments related to the key points and deliverables noted above. My responsibilities revolved around interviewing key stakeholders, documenting the business processes, and evaluating development vendors that would build the solution. The stakeholder interviews included understanding their role in the value chain, their day-to-day responsibilities, and the business processes they employed to get their job done. All of this information was documented in the form of business process flows. Evaluating potential vendors centered around developing an needs assessment of the project as a whole, including the goals we wanted to achieve, researching and isolating appropriate vendors, and then assessing the capabilities of these vendors via meetings and interviews with key personnel.

Summary and Commentary

Due to the nature of the PRL project, I do not have any final documents that I can share. However, after the project was completed, one of my professors from the Information & Communications Department at Fordham asked me to write a case study on this project as a class assignment. The case study I wrote was written in typical Harvard Business School case study format, defining the business problem and the overall situation.

If you are interested in reading the case study I wrote, please send me an email and I will send a copy to you.

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