Many Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) packages allow organizations to manage their products and their product inventory within the ERP system. If all goes well, this ERP system is the heart of your organization, so why would you want to store your product information elsewhere?
Well, there are some good reasons for that. The most important consideration you have to make is: what does the structure of the organization look like? Which (digital) information flows are there and which systems to use?
Many organizations have several other software programs that they use in addition to their ERP package. For example, a CRM package for managing customer data or an HRM system in which personnel data is managed. There is a list of products on the website and perhaps also in your Point Of Sale system for paying for those products.
In addition, there are also many companies that have not yet fully digitized product information, especially when it comes to products with many options or product variations. They often fall back on leaflets and brochures or must call their supplier for precise details.
Too often we see that the information that exists about a product is often very fragmented across different digital and non-digital systems. Certainly, if these systems are not linked, it is impossible to constantly update all data and keep it up to date.
In addition, we see that ERP systems regularly have insufficient options for adding different types of information. For example, consider:
- Colors, weight, and dimensions
- Product descriptions
- Pictures or product videos
- Versions by country
- Manuals and instructional videos
- Taxonomy: what is covered by what?
In other words: Product Information Management is a profession in itself, which is why you would prefer to store the available product information centrally.
Difference between PIM and ERP
In an ideal setting, your PIM system would be the ‘central hub’ for all product information, with all output channels (site, marketplaces, catalogues, etc) connected to it in various ways.
All the connected sources draw their product information from a central Product Information Management system. The main functions of your PIM system are then threefold:
- Collect information about the available product from various sources.
- Enrich and update the product information.
- Distribute the information about the product to other systems.
An ERP package, on the other hand, has many more tasks. This package is more about internal processes and not only links software packages but mainly activities of various internal processes (and departments) with each other.
The isolation of the product data in a separate Product Management System ensures that the information can be managed and enriched from one central point and that the other systems always work with the same information.
Do I need to purchase a PIM system?
Not by definition. A Product Information Management system is especially relevant if you have many products and product variations and if the products you have are complex in nature. Our consultants do not always recommend a separate PIM system, but will always look at the nature of your products and how the information flows are organized in your company or organization.