A PIM project is doomed to failure from the start if: project objectives are defined too vaguely, incompletely or even incorrectly (unintentionally). Even worse is, if employees do not use the PIM (Product Information Management System) as expected. To avoid this, it is important to make sure you choose the right PIM system.
In this article, I'll give you eight best practices that will facilitate the PIM evaluation process before you implement it.
Tip 1. Define clear goals for the implementation of a PIM system
It's a big mistake to think that a PIM implementation solves automatically all problems related to product information and/or omnichannel commerce. These are people and processes that have to be organized with the help of PIM software. Only when people use a PIM system productively and efficiently, one can talk about successful usage of the PIM.
The following goals can be pursued:
- Create a central repository for Product Master Data
- Improvement of product information quality
- Aggregation of product data from different suppliers
- Automatic update of product data via all connected channels etc.
Start the implementation only after the goals are clear and explicit for all project participants. A clear understanding of goals will also facilitate the PIM assessment.
Tip 2. Begin with a written document
Take the time to define your requirements first roughly. Afterwards, deepen them together with your contractor.
Only in this way you can structure all your own thoughts, determine the main requirements and make them understandable to others. Already in the meantime, you will definitely face some “unpleasant” questions, which in the first place should be thought about for a bit longer.
Tip 3. Do not define too many objectives, otherwise your project will never be finished
A PIM implementation cannot be realized overnight and can't get all possible problems right out of the way, it should rather be considered as a successive process, because users should first get used to the new system and the new processes. Only thus the system will be used as anticipated.
The goals and requirements are changing too fast nowadays, because the environment and general conditions are changing faster and faster. For complicated projects, an agile approach is unavoidable. First of all, concentrate on the most important things. The less important requirements can be implemented later. The shorter a project is scheduled, the more likely and successfully it will be implemented!
Tip 4. Don’t look for a system that can fully meet your requirements out of the box
It will be hard to find such system, because every PIM system has its own strengths and weaknesses and is intended for a certain area of application.
Of course, flexibility is today much greater than before, but many PIM systems have still an improvement potential. Often the evaluation of what you can do with software can be at least as important as the evaluation of what software offers right out of the box. The strengths of open-source PIM systems such as TreoPIM, Pimcore or Akeneo shine particularly well here.
Tip 5. Evaluate a PIM carefully and make the purchase decision only when you are completely sure
There are many PIM solutions on the market, but not all are equally good for everything.
The most important criteria when evaluating the PIM are:
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – the costs for purchase, implementation and subsequent support are important and should be affordable. These are the first to evaluate.
- Integrability – the system should be fully automatically synchronizable with all necessary internal systems and fit into the existing system infrastructure, otherwise the main goal of a PIM, namely to ensure data sovereignty for product data, is not met.
- Functionality – the system should be able to meet your most important requirements. Think about in advance, which requirements are the most important for you.
- Implementability – you should be able to implement a PIM project together with the chosen service provider based on the selected software.
I would evaluate the systems according to the above mentioned criteria in the specified order. So in the end only you will have only a few providers to choose from and the process will not seem to be so complicated anymore. You save a lot of time. Think about all these criteria. It should be done before you make a purchase decision.
Tip 6. Do not contact all PIM providers at once
The communication takes a lot of time, whether by phone or e-mail. Therefore, do not try to contact all service providers and only then to consider which provider you exclude, but best do this preparatory work by yourself.
Evaluate the PIM providers on the basis of the publicly available information and make a list of the narrower choices based on the criteria from the previous tip. Only then make the first contact and ask the questions that you are incredibly interested in.
Tip 7. Think of data unification before you implement PIM software
The selected PIM system should not only allow to store the data uniformly, but also contribute to unify it. Think early enough with the chosen service provider about how exactly this process should take place during the first data collection or data import - which users should be involved and how this process can be supported by the selected PIM system.
Tip 8. Find the right service provider for implementation of your project
Find the contractor who thinks with you, who meets your requirements, who you personally consider to be trustworthy and who has ever done something similar. Don’t take the most expensive!
If you have doubts whether your own competencies are sufficient to master a PIM implementation, then hire a PIM consultant who will assist you both before and during implementation.