Why PIM is a key component of master data management
Master Data is defined as the most essential data needed to be shared across an organization. In the world of product information, this can include the product name, a unique product identifier such as a SKU, a description and stock level. It is the foundation for the processes required to aggregate, consolidate and organize this data. The use of a product information management (PIM) is how these processes can be performed in an effective way and is the backbone of streamlining catalog enrichment.
Let’s unpack these processes and explain their functionality within a PIM.
Importing data from suppliers is a common process for PIM users and accuracy of fields and correlated data are essential.
Master Data will typically be found inside an ERP and if integrating the ERP to a PIM system, it is essential that the data to be mapped isn’t dirty. That is, the fields this data are assigned to accurately portray the data it holds. For example, if there is a field for capturing the country the product has been manufactured in, the data contained in that field is assumed to follow a standard naming convention for abbreviating countries. If a user decides to change the country naming convention from BR to BZ for Brazil, then mistakes like this, across multiple fields and products leads to a condition known as dirty data. This condition makes integration very difficult.
If you are the manufacturer of products, the good news is that you don’t need to aggregate juicy product info from numerous suppliers. A typical real-world scenario is when a product can be delivered by different suppliers. One supplier may be great at supplying web and print-ready photography, whereas another supplier provides succinct details related to nutritional information. A PIM can assist with querying data and defining rules around importing the information you need.
Product information is not only relegated to details about a product. It can also include competitor information. The Deluxe Toaster Oven is also made by Competitor X and called the Modern Toaster. Being able to compare apple to apples of product information can help win business over the competitor’s product information
Some products do not exist on their own, they may be part of a collection of products known as bundles, sets and parts. In the case of parts, these may be sellable parts but also comprise a collection of parts sold together.
With a PIM, you can structure products as a base product with variants. The base product is essentially a virtual product but the actual tangible product are its variants which may be in different colors, sizes, packaging and sometimes many dimensions in one. Using a PIM, the attributes defining these dimensions can be stored in different ways.
Categories may be found inside the ERP or within import files so mapping these to the PIM are essential to save time. Once in the PIM, maintaining these is an essential activity and where structural organization practices must be strongly adhered to.
Data Quality Management
This is where tools within a PIM play a role in keeping product data quality high. Input fields can require only a certain type of data (i.e. numbers instead of characters) and field types can eliminate dirty data from propagating within the PIM. By defining input fields as holding specific units, or numeric values, or URLs or file types, the PIM can become a trusted source of enriched master data.
Product Lifecycle Management
PIMs can also track the lifecycle of products during their lifetime in a market. Since PLM is a cornerstone for manufacturers, product information herein touches many other areas of an organization that PIM can supply information to, including suppliers, procurement, customers and engineering.
This manages the publication of different product catalogs to different channels. As channels today range from procurement systems to social media, the product information can range from a handful of fields to thousands and the channels are growing year over year.
Media Asset Management
Product information isn’t limited to characters and numbers. A robust PIM solution will contain product images, video, files (CAD, PDF, software-specific-file-types). Assigning these binary large objects to products can also include workflows so as to involve the right personnel.
A PIM, as you see, is a collection of tools to support the many processes required for master data management.
RSVP for the upcoming webinar here: Why PIM is a Key Component of Master Data Management