Nowadays, every company that wants to manage its product information effectively can hardly do without the use of a PIM system (Product Information Management System). But the choice of a PIM software is not an easy task - there are many PIM systems on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the decision to choose a PIM solution cannot be made by a future user, because of the lack of technical know-how or expertise. In this case PIM consultants are to be brought on board.
In this article, I explain when and for what purpose it makes sense to engage a PIM consultant and I will also compare all leading PIM consultations on different criteria.
Why do you need a PIM consultation?
As an in-demand service PIM consulting occurred as a result of increased competition between the providers of PIM software. Today there are around 100 PIM software systems worldwide. The best systems for SMEs in the German market are: TreoPIM, Perfion, inRiver, OpusCapita (jCatalog), MeDaPro, Akeneo and Pimcore.
Since the PIM solutions, except for the open source solutions (TreoPIM, Akeneo, Pimcore), are quite expensive, the right decision is not easy to make. A choice process can take a long time and requires the potential user to have a good understanding of internal processes and problems related to product data.
A qualitative requirement analysis requires good technical expertise. But even that is not enough, because only a specialist who deals with several PIM systems and has already sufficient experience in this field, has the understanding of how a specific requirement can be implemented exactly in one or another system and which solution is more interesting. This is precisely the main reason why engaging an external consultant makes sense.
What problems can be there?
The potential user can be faced with many problems:
- Lack of knowledge about available PIM software
- Lack of time to choose a PIM system
- Lack of know-how about PIM software
- No understanding of which technical features the PIM system should have
- No technically-skilled staff for the selection and project management at the implementation of a PIM software
- Operational blindness - no understanding of which problems with managing product information are there and how they can be solved best.
If you have one of these problems, engaging a PIM consultant may be the best solution for you.
For what purposes can PIM consultants be involved?
The implementation of a PIM software occurs in several project phases, roughly it can be divided as follows:
- Choice of a PIM software
- Conception of the aspired PIM solution
- Project implementation
- Subsequent support
1st project phase: Choice of a PIM software
The choice of a PIM system is the most important project phase at the PIM implementation and is also the main task of PIM consulting. Many service providers in the field of PIM consulting act mainly in this project phase and see their own service as provided as soon as the decision for a specific PIM solution has been made.
At the choice of a PIM solution, the following services can be provided by PIM consultants:
- Providing of general information about possible PIM systems, their types and special features.
- PIM consultants perform a business analysis and identify the baseline requirements.
- PIM consultants create a PIM requirement catalog together with the user.
- Based on the information received, certain PIM programs are shortlisted.
- PIM consultants assist users in getting to know the chosen system providers and in the final choice of the PIM software.
2nd project phase: Concept
Normally, the implementation of a PIM software is carried out by the PIM provider himself or by his Solution Partner. Of course, the user is very actively involved in this process, especially during the conception phase. A PIM consultant can assist the user as a consultant or even as an external project manager. Such a person brings the necessary expertise, experience and knowledge.
In this phase of the project, it is particularly important to ensure that the selected PIM system can be properly adapted to the company's technical requirements and that all operating processes related to the preparation of product information are taken into account and the concerned departments are involved in time.
The most important benefit of using PIM consulting in this project phase is that you can get two expert opinions on all important issues before making a decision - one from the implementing service provider and another from your own PIM consultant.
During the conception phase, the following services can be provided by the PIM consultant:
- Consulting on the implementation of data standards and of legal requirements.
- Additional consulting in special cases - if the user has doubts about the decisions to be made, he may ask for further consulting.
- Assumption of the intermediary role between the customer and the provider of a PIM system.
- Assumption of the project management by the user.
3rd project phase: Project implementation
During the project for implementing of PIM software, PIM consultant can provide the following services:
- Taking over the project management by the user (for example as product owner) - during the implementation phase, a PIM consulting agency can provide the user with a project manager who will lead the project from start to finish. Of course it is not cheap.
- Providing advisory support.
4th project phase: Subsequent support
Even after the PIM implementation, a PIM consultant can provide useful services:
- Execution of training, seminars, workshops for employees of the user relating to the use of a PIM system, if it is not or not sufficiently enough offered by the PIM provider.
- Execution of plausibility checks and evaluations of how well the set goals are achieved through project implementation.
- Analysis of the use quality of the implemented PIM software.
- Help with change management - decide together with the user, what else is to be customized in the current solution, in order to best represent new knowledges and requirements.
PIM consulting companies can be involved in different phases of the project, the most important is the choice of PIM software. Whether you engage a PIM consultant in other project phases, you should decide by yourself. In any case, you may make a decision about a possible hiring of a PIM consulting agency during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th project phases, depending on how well this company demonstrated itself during the project phase "Choice of a PIM software".
The choice of a right PIM consulting is not easy, but about 10 times easier than the choice of a PIM system without a PIM consultant. When choosing a consulting agency, you should consider the industry experience, service portfolio and neutrality of a service provider. Everyone should carefully weigh all the pros and cons for themselves.
Implementation of a PIM system is a complicated process involving many departments of a user, so that the software can later be used as it was meant to be. And if you are planning to get PIM consulting company on board, start thinking about whether it can be helpful to you only during the conception phase or during implementation. A final decision on whether to engage a PIM consultant during implementation should only be made after the project phase "Choice of a PIM software".