Now that the biggest event of the year in the PIM world, PIMpoint Digital, is live, it is a good idea to get back to the basics of product information management. This text deals with how to identify the needs related to product information management in an organisation and how to get started with it.
The various needs regarding product information management can arise in different situations in an organisation and it is good to be able to identify in order to seek a solution. Since it is not a matter of an unconnected solution but a comprehensive one supporting the business as a whole, it is worth taking the time to map the needs and find a good solution that will serve even many years later.
Challenges in product information management
There are typically a variety of challenges in organisations related to product information management that have been accepted as part of everyday life. Organisations have not sought a solution that would improve efficiency and save an enormous amount of time. The most common challenges are manual enrichment process of product information, divergent product information in different channels, scattered product information, and faulty product information.
It is widely acknowledged that high-quality product information is a prerequisite for business but organisations have not actively sought a solution for the challenges mentioned above. Product information related challenges cost companies in the form of additional manual work, correcting errors, and as process inefficiency. It is also true that without an appropriate tool it is difficult to see the problematics in the process and to tackle them. When there are many challenges, the overall process is usually disorderly and hard to manage and develop.
Consequently, it is difficult for the organisation to respond to the constantly changing needs of clients, which, in the end, is the ultimate reason for maintaining product information.
Typically, system users and the people who deal with product information in practise are those to best identify challenges related to product information. The problem often lies with the fact that these people are not in charge of system procurement or the overall process. Therefore information flow is a necessity in order to begin to tackle the challenges.
Based on the maturity level of the organisation, some will be able to identify their challenges themselves and even draw up a related needs assessment. Some will require assistance with challenge identification. An experienced partner is worthwhile in order to make sure that all aspects are taken into consideration in the assessment. In any case, it is essential to form a comprehensive overall view of the product information process in order to identify the problem areas and areas that work well. This enables true progress in finding a comprehensive solution for product information management in an organisation.
When identifying and assessing problem areas, it is important to involve all those in any way dealing with product information. Typically, at least sales, marketing, procurement, design, logistics, IT, and management are involved. In bigger organisations, more participants may be involved. This way, a comprehensive overall picture of product information management in the organisation can be formed in order to confidently move on to the next phase.
How to get started?
Once the challenges have been identified and a view of the overall process has been formed, it is time to move on to the next phase. It is time to find a solution suitable for the organisation and the right partner for the implementation phase.
In the initial phase, an organisation typically assesses possible systems and partners. Choosing a partner and a system are of great importance and worth carefully considering because a successful product information project significantly streamlines the business.
A partner should be familiar with the line of business the organisation is involved in as well as the system chosen in order to fully take advantage of the system. It would certainly help if the partner could assist in choosing a system.
This would ensure that the system chosen fits the organisation as well as possible, responding to as many challenges as possible, starting from the initial phase. The right partner can fit the product information process as part of the PIM system as well as train users and provide them with support in the transformation phase.
In the initial project phase, some workshops are arranged with those involved in the identification of challenges. This way, a comprehensive picture is formed on how to go about matters in the new PIM system. It is important that users are engaged in the system right from the initial phase in order to involve them in the transformation. This helps to reduce friction as changes are introduced in the ways of working.
The PIM project is not very technical but rather a business development project. It will typically continue after the initialisation of the new system as a long-term partnership with the system supplier, as the process as well as the data model are refined over time. Along the way, technology will evolve and new features will be introduced. Therefore, it is important that the partner can provide support for the company in such matters over time. However, a reasonable investment will get you started relatively quickly.
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Rumbin Jussi, Lead Consultant
+358 44 970 8965