The successful implementation of PIM software requires a thorough approach. From more than 20,000 hours of consultancy in PIM experience, we know what a good implementation should look like. Over time, we have therefore standardized our approach.
After identifying the need for a PIM in your organization, getting your PIM team together, and choosing the right PIM tool for you, you are now ready for implementation.
Without a proper plan in place, your PIM implementation runs the risk of becoming ineffective and all the legwork goes in vain. But it doesn’t have to. To help you build a clear and actionable implementation plan, we present the 4-phase PIM implementation guide.
Phase 1: Analysis Phase – Set Up The Navigation
- When we talk about the road to a successful PIM implementation, the approach we use for that is comparable to navigation software. The analysis phase is the basis for the further course of the project: we determine the final destination and map out the best route to it.We discuss the desired situation with all stakeholders and determine the purpose of the implementation. Together we analyze the current processes and the possibilities to improve these processes. We also look at the exceptions in the processes, the optimal data model and the desired result of the implementation project.To map out the above, we organize a number of workshops in which questions are asked such as:
- Where does a new product come from?
- How does data go through the organization in the current situation?
- What information is currently recorded about an article (product)? And for what purpose?
- Where should an article (product) end up?
- What does the IT landscape look like? What integration options are there (and which are desired)?
- On one or more e-commerce platforms, supplier portal, brochures, market places?
- What data is currently available? And what are the source systems for that data?
Information is collected from each workshop that ultimately leads to a Solution Design Document. This document is used as a guideline for the implementation and, in addition to a description of the implementation, also contains global planning; The navigation is set.
Phase 2: Implementation Phase – On The Way To The PIM Solution
Now that the navigation is set up, the tank is full and the tire pressure is in order, the journey can begin.
The implementation starts with the basics: the data model. This model is crucial for a successful PIM implementation. It gives the user an idea of the term PIM by clarifying what an article looks like in the software, what possibilities the software offers to make the process run as efficiently and effectively as possible, what data is available, and at what level it is data is located.
Incoming Data Flows
When the data model has been finalized, the processing of incoming data flows is started. Often an article is created in the ERP system, with a minimal set of characteristics. It is important that this article ends up in the PIM software so that it can be further enriched. But also the supply of data by suppliers is an incoming data stream that must be processed. At the same time, it is a second (or third) validation of the data model.
Data migration is strongly related to incoming data flows. In the initial situation, article data is often spread over several systems. It is important to preserve that data and improve data quality where possible.
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For example: in the source system, an attribute is stored as text, in the data model that attribute is defined as a list box. Because there was complete freedom in the data entry of this attribute in the source system, many options have arisen that ultimately imply the same. By addressing this in the data migration, the data for this characteristic becomes more uniform.
Outgoing Data Flows
As soon as the data migration is completed, the export of data is started. An article and thus article data must be available on many platforms (omnichannel). Because PIM becomes a “single source of truth”, it is important that the data from PIM is offered to those different platforms.
It is important that the PIM process is carefully examined. The PIM software must be supportive of that process and must therefore be set up on the basis thereof. In a workflow, it is determined who is responsible at what time to enrich or validate certain data and when a product can be considered ‘complete’. This is the focus of attention in the final phases of the implementation.
Phase 3: Project Management – Support On The Go
We are used to navigation software showing how far we still have to drive, showing an estimated time of arrival, and presenting shorter / faster routes if available. When implementing PIM, it is also important to continuously know where the project is, where the project is going and which alternative routes there are. During the project, progress is continuously measured and a dashboard provides insight into the state of the project. Based on those insights, it is possible to adjust the project where necessary.
Fortunately, there are also a number of petrol stations on the road to success. These stations are ideal for refueling, looking back on the road already traveled, and looking ahead to the rest of the route. In the project, we do that with reviews and retrospectives. The review shows what has been achieved so far and what the project team will be tackling in the coming period.
The retrospective is a reflection moment.
- What have we done so far?
- What went well?
- How can we apply those lessons learned in the coming period?
- What could be improved?
Phase 4: Finally: GO-Live – Arrival And Stay/ Roll-Out And Maintenance
The data model is clear and organized, the incoming and outgoing data flows are transparent and the data is ready to migrate: we have almost arrived at its destination. Before we actually go live, users are well-trained in the use of the new PIM software.
User Acceptance Testing
As with any IT system implementation, the PIM should also be tested. Simulate all scenarios (user stories) in production with users at each level signing off upon successful testing. Test all automated workflows right from product data approvals to publishing to marketing campaigns and get approvals from relevant technical and business users.
Globalization And Production Cut-Over
Configure localization requirements in case the PIM is to be used across different geographies. Once the testing is satisfactory, declare PIM production-ready and go live!
But even after the PIM software is live, we remain involved. We provide aftercare on the implementation and think along with the next steps to be taken. The PIM system then goes into the maintenance phase where incremental changes are done on the fly without disrupting the business. The foundation you’ve laid by implementing PIM will make data management easier and efficient for your business.
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