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? – Do these questions sound familiar? Here are some useful tips on what you should consider when choosing and implementing a PIM system:
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? PIM is not just a matter of software and technology. Therefore, include all departments that are involved in data management and data processing right from the outset. Thus, you'll be able to take into account all requirements and get the most of your software.
Through a structured change management you will increase the acceptance of the system. Get everyone, including all management levels, involved at an early stage. Involve them in the process of change. A strong commitment of the staff and the backing of the management will improve data quality and will ensure that the system will be actually used.
The introduction of a PIM system will impact processes as well as 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 task. Based on real use cases, determine your requirements. 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. A 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.
Under Tools you will find a detailed list of possible Requirements for a PIM System.
But be careful: An Excel sheet with a list of selection criteria will only help you to evaluate the shortlist. It is not the ultimate solution. Be sure to get a demonstration of the software, preferably with your own product data and based on your specific use cases.
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 price negotiations. 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 optimization costs.
3) Implementation of the PIM system
Implementing a PIM system may take several months. An approach involving different sub-projects might be useful: you will be more flexible and get quicker 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 adjusted. Aspects such as management, quality, business processes and risk management with regard 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 information (see "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 explicitly specify data structures before implementing a PIM system. They will have to be compatible with every output channel, 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 images. 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. The size of assortments will still be one of the main drivers for Enterprise PIM in the future. You will need seamless and consistent processes to handle the increasing number of stock units.