No matter how efficiently your business runs, there’s always room for improvement. For manufacturers, one of the biggest opportunities is the optimization of your product data processes, saving your organization time, money, and effort.
Implementing a product information management (PIM) system is the ideal way to pull together data that lives in different systems, spreadsheets, and silos. It provides your company with one trusted source for your product data, allowing you to confidently disseminate that data to downstream channels.
We know that. And you know that—but the decision makers within your company may not. So, what can you do to convince them that PIM is the way of the future?
Short answer: It depends.
Begin with your product data team
The approach you take to advocating for PIM depends upon who you’re talking to. First, it’s important to speak with the people who stand the most to gain.
Talk to the enterprise architecture experts who understand your company’s current systems and how they communicate. Speak with the people who oversee data governance, establish data processes, and ensure all product launches adhere to the process.
It’s important to get your core data team on board early, as they can help you advocate throughout the rest of the organization. From there, you’ll need support from each department involved with product data management.
This group likely owns your ERP system. Since this is one of the major systems that will feed your PIM, it’s critical to get them up to speed on the value that PIM will bring the organization. The ERP may also feed directly into the ecomm system, so they’re an integral piece of the overarching ecommerce puzzle.
IT Infrastructure needs to understand how ERP data flows through PIM to downstream users. PIM systems are designed to enable efficient distribution of data to multiple targets. Having ERP data flow through PIM to these targets can eliminate the need to integrate them directly to the ERP system.
If you’re leading the PIM initiative, you’re likely already working pretty closely with this team. If you have several websites or multiple CMS systems, there will be multiple integrations and connectors among them—which can be expensive and difficult to maintain.
Talk to them about how this process currently works. Where are the inefficiencies? Why are we spending money to maintain things that aren’t working optimally for our business? Explain to them how PIM can resolve these inefficiencies.
This team produces the majority of your product content and will be actively engaged with the PIM system in the future. Explain to them how PIM will make their lives easier, saving them time, allowing them to focus on what they were hired to do—create great marketing content.
If you have someone in this role, they are likely in charge of creating product PDF files, such as spec sheets and warranty documents. These documents are then pushed out to the website and other various downstream channels.
They have a vested interest in maintaining the most up-to-date versions of those files. When they are outdated, it can cause problems, from a confusing customer experience to warranty claims. Managing these documents within the PIM can streamline their process, meaning no more building these PDFs manually from spreadsheets—and much easier distribution of the most recent documents to the website and other channels.
This department often has its own reference files for answering customer questions, separate from what the rest of the organization is using. PIM can streamline that process, too. By granting them read-only access to the PIM system, you can ensure that they have access to the same up-to-date information that the rest of the company is using.
In some organizations, customer service may also contribute to product data in the PIM by adding product questions that come in from customers.
Digital Asset Management
The DAM system may be managed within Communications, Digital Marketing, or a similar department. Wherever it lives, most DAM admins have a lot on their plates and would jump at the chance for a simpler approach to distributing digital assets through various channels.
Good news: With an integration between DAM and PIM, the PIM can handle that distribution. Even image sizes can be managed within PIM, while the assets themselves are managed within DAM.
Building a list of PIM requirements
As you talk to the people throughout your organization, you’ll gain more and more insight into what’s most important to them. Include their needs in your overall list of requirements. This ensures that your PIM implementation is valuable to the entire organization—and it increases the likelihood that you’ll have their support.
As you’re speaking to each stakeholder, ask specific questions about their needs.
- What inefficiencies exist in your day-to-day role?
- What do you wish you could do in your role that you can’t currently do?
- What do you need from a PIM?
- What value could PIM provide your department? Your role?
- Where does our company’s data come from?
- What outbound channels do we need to support?
It’s important to capture all requirements through this process, but keep in mind that your requirements will need to be prioritized. You likely will not be able to meet every goal with your initial PIM implementation. PIM is a long game, not a quick fix. It is critical to understand your organization’s product data challenges and to build a multi-year roadmap that addresses them over time.
Taking the PIM message to the top
Through your PIM discovery, you’ll identify multiple ways that PIM can save your business time, money, and effort. You’ll uncover stories about how implementing PIM will free up staff members to do more valuable things with their time—working smarter, not harder.
You’ll see how PIM can ensure that your product data is more reliable, reducing manual errors. You’ll find ways to increase speed to market, including faster product development and faster product release process. More accurate data can also significantly increase sales and reduce warranty costs. These are the messages that will help you sell PIM up the ladder.
Not everyone in your company will understand the value of a PIM. If they aren’t directly involved in your current processes, they likely have no idea how convoluted they have become. As you discuss PIM with management and your executive team, it will be important to educate them on these complexities. Explain that you’ve spoken with various departments throughout the organization and cite the specific ways that PIM will make each group more efficient. Whenever possible, tie in specific metrics (e.g., time or money).
PIM vs other IT projects
While you’re advocating for PIM, other people in your company may be pushing for other, equally important IT projects. In every organization, there is only so much money to go around, so it can be a challenge to get your PIM project at the forefront.
As you find yourself in such discussions, emphasize that the goal with PIM is to gain efficiencies, save money by consolidating systems, and standardize your product data—which will ultimately increase sales. The longer your company waits to implement a PIM, the more difficult it will be to implement in the future.
Selecting a PIM platform and a partner
Once you’ve sold the idea of PIM to your stakeholders, you’ll need to select a PIM platform. There are many solutions out there, and each has its own set of benefits. Conduct a full platform audit to determine which fits your business’s unique needs.
It is unlikely that your business will use a PIM platform exactly as it comes, out of the box. To customize it, you’ll also need a PIM implementation partner. Even if your internal IT team is brilliant, they aren’t certified in PIM. An external partner can help you design the right infrastructure and ensure that your product data is structured optimally for ingestion and deployment.
A few additional points of note
Implementing PIM may require changes to other, related systems—be it minor tweaks or significant changes—to make them work with PIM. If you have several systems talking to each other, a PIM implementation may require changes across many of them.
When implemented properly, PIM can streamline the entire lifecycle of customer-facing product data, making life easier for everyone who plays a role in its creation. While PIM implementation isn’t easy, it is a worthwhile investment.
Interested in learning more about PIM? Schedule a call with one of our PIM implementation consultants.