How to prepare for PIM
5 tips on preparing for a PIM system
Have you come to the realisation that your company needs to become more structured in Product Information Management (PIM) and would you like to start the project off right from the start? Based on personal experience, I list 5 topics in this article that you should uncover before you dive into the project. If you do, you and your company will be far better equipped to get the most value out of the project as possible and be able to manage it successfully.
If your business is considering investing in a Product Information Management System, preparation is alpha and omega. In order to achieve the best possible preparation, there are several areas that would be advantageous to look at and prepare before you tackle the project.
1. THE PRODUCT PROCESS
The first step is to create an overview of the product process – from product birth to product death. For this, it is important to ask yourself:
- Who is responsible for product creation, enrichment, photography and approval?
- How does a product task flow from one person to the next?
- Where are the challenges and bottlenecks?
Don’t be scared if you find that you have a process where things flow via post-it notes and mails, and where certain individuals are the only ones who know how things are moved from A to B. This, of course, is not optimal but it is not something that hasn’t been seen before. Consider which changes you can easily implement in order to improve the process – fewer transfers, more structure, better overview and knowledge sharing across parties – to name a few – and remember the old saying: a problem well stated is a problem half-solved.
The greater the overview you have of the existing process, the better future processes will be when working with PIM.
The next step is to look at where your company today exhibits product data – and consider what you would like to be able to do in the future.
Figure 1. Overview of channels
Here, it is important to ask yourself:
- How is the current customer experience?
- Which experience would you like created after implementation of your PIM?
- Are many product details offered?
- Are related products displayed?
- What about spare parts?
- Or product recommendations?
All these questions are important in order to configure the PIM to support your particular needs.
3. EXISTING DATA
It is crucial for a good PIM to be based on good data. Therefore, the third step is to look at all of your data.
- Which systems is your product data in today?
- How good is the data quality?
- Do you trust all your product data?
- What information is not available today and needs to be produced manually?
If the quality is not sufficient, it would be wise to implement any and all necessary improvements prior to starting a PIM project. Otherwise, PIM will inevitably inherit and exhibit many of the inaccuracies found in your data. This will result in a heavier manual process in relation to checking and adjusting data.
Alternatively, I would recommend that you take a critical look at it after your PIM is implemented.
4. PRODUCTS, MEDIA AND LANGUAGES
The next step is to look at your products and ask yourself:
- How many products do you expect to control via PIM?
- How is the relationship between categories, product groups, series, modules and sub-components?
Most often, the abovementioned can be set up as a hierarchy, which is often a good exercise to get a good overview – from the product category at the top and down to the specific item number you sell.
Normally, one works with two concepts: Product & Item. Where Item is the specific physical product that you can have in hand (an EAN number), whereas Product will usually be a product name, combined with a color and/or size.
Also, you should consider which product information is important to your customers in relation to their purchase decision.
- What information is need-to-have?
- What information is nice-to-have?
- What about different languages?
- Which images, videos, pdf’s are essential to present your products best?
- Do you have a set standard for image types such as front, left, right, top and environment shots – and in what resolutions?
Before starting a PIM project, it is important to get control of your internal stakeholders. There is often a little confusion as to whether PIM is a product system for product people, a marketing system for marketing people or a data management system for IT people.
Running a successful PIM project requires the involvement of all three groups – before, during and after the project. Thus, all three groups must be in full support of the idea of having a PIM project prioritised and subsequently successfully implemented.
The above areas should give you an overview of which areas your company has in control, and which areas require a bit more effort. I would recommend trying to visualise this for the various stakeholders who will subsequently be involved.
The way I normally visualise it is by scoring the focus areas from 1-10 and draw up the results in a Radar diagram. See the figure below as an example.
(1 = Focus not important; 10 = Focus very important)
Figure 2. Score board
The closer the center each point is, the greater the need for effort. To make the background for the score clear, the figure can advantageously be supplemented with bullet points. For example:
- Many transfers
- Slow and rigid
- Many sources
- Good data quality
I hope that the above has given inspiration to how you can control the initial starting phase for a subsequent successful PIM implementation.
You are of course always welcome to contact us if you have questions or need sparring for your work with PIM. Good luck!
Would you like to know more about PIM?
Feel free to contact us – we have many years of experience within Product Information Management and some of Denmark’s most talented consultants in the industry.