Avoiding mistakes in a PIM project
Practical tips for a successful Product Information Management
Digitisation requires new, optimised and automated processes. Digital technology is reshaping every aspect of business. As customers are becoming more and more demanding, you need to reconsider existing structures and re-evaluate responsibilities. With the right planning and organisation, you can avoid some typical pitfalls on your way to a successful PIM project.
Specify requirements for your PIM
You can’t do everything at once! Many companies try to include all their present and future requirements already in the first phase of the project. However, at this stage, you should take the time to specify your actual needs to ensure that you meet your business objectives. You cannot implement every possible PIM functionality in one go. Proceed in small steps and reassess your goals from time to time to adapt them to new circumstances.
Identify key users
Involve all departments that will be affected by the new PIM system at an early stage. To ignore them and only present them with faits accomplis will demotivate them and hamper the acceptance of the PIM system. If, on the other hand, you define key users in each department who represent their department’s business processes within the project team, they can act as facilitators in their respective departments at an early stage. If you actively involve key users in the analysis and design phase and if they can participate in defining processes, requirements and organisational changes, they will be motivated and contribute significantly to the success of the PIM project.
Don’t overload your PIM system
We always have high expectations of a new system. We assume that it must be able to solve all the problems for which nobody felt responsible until now. These include, for example, weaknesses and shortcomings in the online shop, flaws in the ERP system and a lack of business intelligence. However, you should not forget that a PIM system should be mainly used to manage master data and product information. Therefore, you should only use it to consolidate and edit your product data and to export it to different channels. Trying to add further functionality would only unnecessarily raise the complexity of the system and, consequently, increase costs.
Of course, it is tempting to believe that a PIM system can handle any eventuality. This may, however, overload the data model. If you set up a data model that can deal with all kinds of data from all systems – internal or external – you will soon reach the limits of what is possible. Furthermore, it will significantly increase maintenance efforts. Instead, focus on your actual requirements and only implement what is really needed at the moment. Your system will still be flexible enough.
Define who is responsible for which data
Without a central system, product data are generated in different systems and depend on different processes. If you don’t lay down any structures and rules that control the process of creating data, conflicts are inevitable. Product data, for example, is often provided by suppliers, while marketing materials are usually generated in-house and stored elsewhere. When introducing a PIM system, you will have to merge all of these data sources. To avoid differences and inconsistencies between the data, you must explicitly define which system is responsible for providing which data. There should be clear rules that set out how data is collected and who is responsible for it. A consistent data creation process is essential.
Inform and involve employees at an early stage
Setting up a central system and consistent processes across all units without changing the organisation of a company and keeping its structure decentralised inevitably leads to gaps in responsibility. The result is an extremely high coordination effort, which could be avoided if you set clear priorities from the outset; for example, by establishing a central body that initiates change management within the organisation at an early stage. Employees tend to be sceptical about changes and everything that involves additional effort. A clear information policy and an open dialogue will allow them to understand the new organisation better and appreciate its benefits. This will make them more willing to adapt their way of working and to accept the changes.
Rely on professional PIM consulting
Merely relying on an integration partner to implement a complex, time-consuming PIM project will not work. To save costs, businesses often choose to forego valuable PIM consulting services. They often forget that, to introduce a new system into the company properly, you need to train users and to get customer support. The IT department cannot acquire the necessary expertise fast enough to take over these tasks. Benefit from the experience of reliable consultants to avoid dead-ends and going astray: it is essential to rely on a professional to speed things up and to guide you through the complexity of a PIM system. In the end, this also means less effort and costs on the way to a successful PIM project.
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