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How to Choose a PIM Implementation Partner

You wouldn’t go to a general practitioner for brain surgery, nor would you go to a brain surgeon for an orthopedic operation.  Doctors are specialized and so are software implementers.

A successful PIM implementation is a two-part process. The first step is to pick the right PIM for your specific needs. There are many options out there and one or more will suit your situation perfectly, while many will not.  You can learn more about choosing the right PIM here. The second step is getting it installed and set up according your specific requirements. For that you need to select an implementation partner. This is at least as important as choosing the right software to start. I can’t tell you how many PIM implementation “Rescue Operations” my team has overseen in the past.  These typically don’t have anything to do with the software that was selected.  It has to do with the implementation partner. 

Match strength to strength

Different PIMs have different capabilities and having a strong grasp of that specificity is important for success. Some PIMs specialize in strong taxonomy, some in free-form content, others in digital assets. Some PIMs are very large big box systems with a very well-oiled process for implementation while some medium size PIMs allow for some customizations that allow the PIM to fit the client’s needs. These variations will need a very different implementer with a very different set of skills and will require a deep knowledge of that particular PIM. In most cases, an implementer that can do one type, doesn't guarantee a fit to do another. One size does not fit all in the world of implementers.

If the selected PIM has a strong taxonomy backbone, then you’ll want to work with an implementer who has a strong understanding of taxonomic best practices and structures, including the data model. If they don’t, then that part of the project will be weak. Some implementers only focus on plugging everything in correctly for integration and don’t focus on what is best for the customer for proper data set up. If the customer needs a two tier data model (Product to SKU) but the implementer only knows how to set up a single tier model, then the customer will either need to adjust their data model or get a different expert to set up the data so that it can support that two tier model.

Implementation (almost) gone wrong

We once saw an implementer put in a master taxonomy to be used to support category specific attribution in the system with the business unit model as a Level 1 category to the taxonomy. This would have caused the customer to have 5 different sets of nearly the exact same taxonomy under each level in a misguided effort to align with the ERP taxonomy. This would have caused a governance and attribute maintenance nightmare.

For instance, if the attribution needed to change for <Thermostats> in one structure, it would have to be updated in each of the others as well. One of the points of having a PIM is to have a centralized database to maintain your information so you don’t have to do multi manual entry and maintenance of your data. Luckily, we were working with this client on a web structure at the same time so were able to advise on the cons of such a structure and then continued to advise for the rest of the implementation for anything concerning the taxonomy, attributes and data models.

The right stuff

Just because your implementation partner is good at one thing, doesn’t necessarily make them good at implementing PIM.  Additionally, just because they are good at one PIM doesn’t make them good at another PIM.   While there are definitely some “common” best practices when implementing PIM, there are also software specific best practices and gotchas.  So to make sure you have the right team in place for this important process be sure ask these questions:

  • Is your team trained in the software we’ve selected?
  • How many implementations have you done with this specific software?
  • Can you provide the resumes/CVs of the people who will do the implementation?

Picking the right software and getting it implemented are two different skill sets.  If you need help picking a PIM, we can help. If it ends up being a PIM that we don’t specialize in (it could happen) we can help you find the right fit for the perfect implementer to make sure your PIM onboarding goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us to set up a time to chat.

Chantal Schweizer
Chantal Schweizer
Chantal Schweizer is a taxonomy professional with over 10 years of experience in Product Information and Taxonomy. Prior to joining Earley Information Science, Chantal worked on the Product Information team at Grainger for 9 years, Schneider Electric’s PIM team for 2 years and had some previous work in PIM consulting.

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