The key to successful PIM projects
Introducing a PIM system is of strategic importance to most companies. It will change the way you present your products to the outside world, have a significant impact on your internal processes and responsibilities, and it will affect many different departments. Therefore, you should carefully consider all options when deciding how to proceed and which solution to choose.
4 tips for your PIM Project
What should you consider when choosing and implementing a PIM system? Which system meets your requirements best? What do you expect from it? Open source or licence? How should you proceed when selecting a vendor? What do you have to consider when implementing a PIM software? – Anyone who has ever implemented a system knows how many dangers lurk on the way to the port of destination. In this article, you will learn how to ensure the success of your project in just four steps.
1) Expectation and Change Management: Involve all parties
Clarify the reasons why you would decide to introduce a PIM system: What are your expectations and functional requirements? You should involve all departments that are responsible for data maintenance and processing right from the start. PIM is not just a matter of software and technology. Each department requires different types of data and will, therefore, use the system in a slightly different way. If you take into account all the requirements right from the start, you will get the most out of your software.
Through structured change management, you increase the acceptance of the system. Get everyone, including all management levels, involved at an early stage. Involve them in the change process. A strong commitment of the staff and the backing of the management will ensure that the system will be actually used and will also improve data quality.
The introduction of a PIM system will impact processes and responsibilities. Conflicts between the various parties involved are inevitable in the course of the project. A project manager with adequate decision-making power and a management sponsor can help resolve them.
2) Software selection criteria: Think practical!
PIM vendors offer a variety of different features and capabilities – choosing one is no easy feat.
Define which requirements your system must meet based on real use cases. Discuss with all parties involved where and how data should be managed and processed.
In order to evaluate a solution, create, based on specific use cases, a list of required features. This Requirement Specification will help you compile your own shortlist of four to six qualified tools, chosen from among a wide range of software products that are currently available on the market. It may also be worth considering alternatives such as open source systems.
A well-defined list of selection criteria will prevent you from being dazzled by features you do not really need in your company.
The last step in the software evaluation process should be a “proof of concept” of the two finalists. Even if this means additional effort – a wrong decision would be much more expensive!
Meanwhile, don’t forget to negotiate prices with the software vendors. If you start too early, there will be no incentives to reduce the price. If you start too late and there is only one competitor left, you won’t be able to negotiate. Keep in mind that, in addition to license fees, there are other major cost factors to consider, such as system integration, maintenance, support and system optimisation costs.
3) Implementation of the PIM system
Implementing a PIM system may take several months. Subdividing the project into manageable phases might be useful: you will be more flexible, react quickly to changes and get fast results.
Choosing the right implementation partner is just as important: Does the integrator have relevant PIM experience? Is he familiar with the system? Does he have a partnership with the software provider? Save valuable time and money – benefit from the experience of a qualified implementation partner!
4) Processes, data management and structure
Introducing a PIM system requires product information processes to be redesigned. Aspects such as management, quality, business processes and risk management in relation to product information will have to be reassessed. Stewardship models have proven to be an effective approach: First of all, clarify which departments or which employees are responsible for which product data (see also “Data Governance”). Then establish clear rules and guidelines for the business processes in question. “The way of product data within the company” will become more transparent and less prone to error.
Furthermore, it will be necessary to specify the data structure before implementing a PIM system. It will have to meet the requirements of all output channels, i.e. be media-independent. You should also consider the system’s constraints as well as the data creation and maintenance processes. In this context, you should also determine which system has control over which data and at what stage. While the ERP system may be best suited for master data, a MAM tool may be the most appropriate solution for photos. The goal of PIM is to have one shared source of information combining all these data for all distribution channels.
Think strategically! As your retail business expands and the product range increases, demands on product data processes change as well. Assortment will be one of the main drivers for Enterprise PIM also in the future. You will need a seamless and consistent process to handle the increasing number of products.
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