How can I tell that my company needs a PIM system?
Marc Kulow: There is no clear black-and-white division for this. There is no such point as yesterday I didn’t need a PIM system and tomorrow I can no longer exist without one. But there are a few parameters that indicate that the time for a PIM has come:
One is the complexity of the products. If I only sell white paint, I might not need a PIM system. But do my products have many different features that I need to describe? Do I have hundreds or even thousands of these products on offer? Are my products combinable or sold in sets? Are there different versions of my products, for example for different countries? These are good indicators that I need a PIM system.
Katharina Czerner: Multilingualism is also an important factor. If I change something in the product data in the source language, then I have to keep track of in which target media this content is used. At the latest, this becomes difficult without a PIM system when there are three different languages. Companies eventually reach a point where they create more and more manual work, and the result still gets worse and worse quality.
What are the effects of this lower data quality?
Katharina Czerner: The more fast-moving products become, the shorter the product cycles are, the more selective customers are in their search for the right product. Products with bad or wrong product information are instantly clicked away. Customers want to find the perfect product. And the flood of information also enables them to be selective.
What steps are involved when a PIM system is to be implemented in a company?
Marc Kulow: At the beginning, as a company I have to know where I stand. And I have to know where I want to go. As consultants, we then try to fill the delta between these two states.
Katharina Czerner: However, the first mistakes often happen when analysing the current state. Many companies have the problem that they cannot determine how good their data quality is because many different departments are involved, which do not necessarily report the whole truth to the management. And even if everything is going well in two individual departments, they can still fail to work together if, for example, products are still on the website but have not been available for sale for two years.
Marc Kulow: As a company, the next step is to know where I want to go. Companies naturally only know the problems they have today. But if we want to select a system that will be live in a year, then we need at least the problems that the company will have in a year. And even then, it would certainly be outdated by the time the product is launched. I actually need to know: What problems will the company have in three years? So what needs to happen with my data in three years?
And that’s where we come in as consultants. We know these things through many years of experience and expertise from a wide range of industries. It’s actually our job to know. That is our reason for existence. That’s what we are consultants for.
What are the most common mistakes companies make when introducing a PIM system? How can these mistakes be avoided?
Marc Kulow: Another mistake, for example, is setting the wrong priorities in the project. The employees always ask us when the system will go live. In the meantime, I ask them: What should actually go live? We want to accompany the companies step by step on their digitisation strategy. And that doesn’t just stop with the implementation of a tool.
It’s like a trucking company buying 20 trucks and then never wanting to hear anything about trucks again. But trucks also break down sometimes and need to be repaired. At some point you need new trucks, maybe longer ones or even a few small trucks. In the same way, the topic of digitalisation and PIM is never finished. The story of digitalisation is not finished, so a PIM can never be finished either.
To conclude: What is the most important advice you would like to give to product information managers?
Marc Kulow: I think the most important thing is that product information management is not just a PIM system. Product information management is PIM system plus digitisation strategy.
A PIM system provides the technical requirements, but just because it is there, it does not necessarily bring the added value that a company needs. It must also be implemented well, the data must be maintained and processes must be implemented so that the company can ultimately derive added value from it.
Katharina Czerner: Product information management projects are demanding. Poorly organised, they take longer and end up being more expensive than planned. The introduction in the departments, the training of the users or the user support are often neglected.
Many companies benefit from using the experience of a reliable consulting partner to make faster progress and avoid mistakes.
In our German webinar “How to make your PIM project successful – a ruthless look at 8 avoidable mistakes!” Katharina Czerner and Marc Kulow talk about eight critical stumbling blocks in the preparation and implementation of PIM projects and how to avoid them.