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Product Information Management is on the forefront of e-commerce necessities today, fueled by the insatiable demand for product data and SKU content to stock the millions of digital commerce storefronts competing for your online spend. So you may find yourself in an evaluation of PIM or MDM solutions to help your company manage this exploding complexity.

The Pursuit of Product Information Management

To help frame your decision making process, our Senior Solutions Architect and PIM expert, Steve Thomas, explains the steps your company should make in order to land on the right PIM for your organization.

1. Determine your desired outcome.

Using a 5-year planning horizon, how much improvement in your organization’s sales and reduction in product data processing costs are you expecting in conjunction with your PIM solution? Do you have metrics from similar organizations on their experience in outcomes associated with a successful PIM implementation project? How much of your organization’s revenue is generated today from digital commerce? In 5 years, what do you expect that number to be? How would you assess the current level of your organization’s product data quality? How mature are your product data onboarding and maintenance processes? How well governed are your processes? How loyal are your customers? Do your customers enjoy a positive digital commerce experience that keeps them coming back for more? Do you have access to the necessary data to answer these questions.

2. Evaluate your current state.

What does it cost for your organization to add a SKU to your digital commerce offerings today? What will it cost in 5 years after a successful PIM implementation? How long does it take to add a SKU and associated content? Does your organization lose out on sales because of delays in adding new SKUs? If you address the implementation of a PIM solution with a comprehensive (versus minimalist) approach – as implied by the previous questions – how much financial lift do you expect in your organization compared to your answer to the first question in this paragraph.

3. Determine the type of data you need to manage.

Do you plan on consolidating only marketing-related product data in your PIM or all varieties of non-transactional product data? The scope of product data should be accounted for when choosing a PIM solution as some solutions are not well suited to handle all varieties of product data.

4. Establish where you need to send data and its requirements.

Do you need to syndicate data to distributors, punch-out solutions or major digital commerce resellers and aggregators such as Amazon, Walmart, The Home Depot, Target, and GDSN? Did you know that most of the major resellers have very specific requirements and constraints around product content? For example, for products assigned to a specific product category, one reseller may require exactly 5 feature bullets while another may require exactly 6 feature bullets. Some PIM solutions offer out-of-the-box syndication capabilities with popular syndication partners. Developing and maintaining reseller-specific content can be very time consuming and costly. So, going with a solution that offers built-in syndication features may save your organization both time and money.

5. Decide who in your organization will own and manage the data.

Does your organization have a large, diverse group of product data specialists who will all need to work directly with the PIM solution in support of multiple use cases? If so, you may want to consider building a workflow-driven custom user interface for each planned use case to help enforce strong data governance. Since the capability to build a workflow-driven custom user interface is not available in many PIM solutions, be selective in your search.

6. Run through all associated costs.

Using a 5-year planning horizon, how much do you plan on spending to maximize the benefit of licensing and implementing a PIM solution? Did you include costs associated with optimizing your product content for digital commerce? Did you include costs associated with addressing data governance goals? Did you include costs associated with ongoing enhancements and periodic release upgrades to the PIM solution?

7. Consider implementation costs versus effort of various PIMs.

Knowing the costs and benefits associated with the implementation of a PIM solution is essential to establishing the right budget amount for both the initial implementation costs and ongoing annual costs. The cost of licensing PIM solutions varies greatly as does the cost of implementing one solution over another. Do you know the total licensing fees up front and annually thereafter? This is typically easy to find out. But, just as important, do you know the differences in initial implementation efforts and periodic upgrade efforts among the PIM solutions you are considering? Some PIM solutions may take twice as long to implement as other solutions. In addition, some solutions may take 4 times as long to apply major upgrades. Did you factor in this cost above? Many organizations can readily justify the additional effort and associated costs because of the value associated with specific features. Can your organization?

PIM can offer many valuable benefits to customer and product-centric businesses, whether heavily invested in digital commerce or not. Unpacking the answers to the right questions is the first, most important step toward success. Please remember – PIM is a business practice supported by technology, not an IT initiative to support business users. Business sponsors must be the ones seeking the answers and making a business decision on PIM.