Information & Data Management News

4 Reasons Why You Need An External PIM System Separate From Your ERP Platform

By Matt Wienke, Partner and Steve Ruff, Director, Professional Services, Infoverity

Several of our retail, consumer goods, healthcare and manufacturing clients – each with a wide array of products and online businesses – have told us that their ERP providers often try to diminish the value in having an external Product Information Management (PIM) system.   The ERP providers would like these companies to believe that all of their product information should be created and reside in the ERP.   

We advise our clients to evaluate this advice with the utmost caution.  Despite the benefits of an ERP to manage enterprise information, an ERP does not eliminate the need for a PIM system.

Here’s why:

  1. A PIM is not wed to any platform.  An ERP system represents just one of many different applications that a company leverages to access, process, author and publish product data.   A PIM system becomes the “single source of truth” for your products and can integrate with the data in any ERP system, inherently  eliminating duplicate data entry and associated costs.  It can even integrate with another PIM or Digital Asset Management (DAM) system if necessary, which could be required following a merger or acquisition. When you have a PIM system that is not wed to any platform, it can manage all of the definitions, the different product attributes across business units and from disparate third party reference data.    
  2. A PIM is a lower-cost single source of truth for all of a company’s product information versus modifying your ERP.  Product attributes are ever-changing.  They can be specific to individual products, regulations, or consumer trends that evolve over time.  A PIM system is engineered to easily accommodate and publish these changes in attributes, regardless of the system or application that needs to consume these changes.  It ensures a consistent definition and view of a product across a range of applications, systems and organizations.  A PIM offers easy search options, short time to market, and automates the process among disparate systems.  Modifying your ERP data model, user interfaces, and workflows to replicate the functionality is costly and time consuming and can add complexities to your future upgrade path.   
  3. A PIM enables automated workflow and data quality validations as part of your catalog management and product lifecycle process. It allows the assignment of specific roles and authorization levels, categorizes content in taxonomies and syndicates the product information to any number of distribution channels, such as print catalogs or online web stores, where customers can interactively search on key attributes for any item.
  4. ERP ‘walled gardens’ are not architected or licensed to encourage vendor managed product data.  Many organizations are pursuing the benefits of an integrated information supply chain where their vendors have more responsibility for authoring and changing products in their respective supplier catalogs.  The organizations in turn enrich the vendor-provided product information in their master catalog to be sold downstream to consumers. The financial outlay for an organization to secure the ERP licenses to enable key suppliers access to their ERP ‘walled garden’ prohibit supply chain collaboration in real-time.  PIMs are architected and licensed to break down these walls, enable complete supply chain access to product setup and editing features, and avoid the spreadsheet exchange game.

We’d be glad to put you in touch with any one of our many clients who have found their external PIM systems to be mission critical in managing product information for their print and online businesses.  

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