Integrating a PIM system into your organization’s business process is a big step, and not an easy one. Before you begin with the integration, you need to do your research to get the right PIM for your company. Once you’ve chosen the PIM solution that fits your organization’s needs the best, it’s best to have a plan to ensure that you’re squeezing the most out of the PIM solution as you possibly can. Here are some tips that you can use to effectively utilize your PIM software.
Plan and Prioritize business requirements
Before you deploy a PIM, it's important to understand the business requirements. If you don’t understand your business requirements, you can often end up with the wrong PIM for your needs, or cause confusion amongst your team during the integration process. Here are some tips as to how you will achieve this.
- Define the business problem. Why are we building this PIM system? What's its purpose?
- Identify all stakeholders involved. Who will be involved in implementing this new system, process or tool (e.g., end-users and IT).
- Define what success looks like for each stakeholder. What is the metric for success for each stakeholder during and after the integration. What will be different from how things were before?
- Prioritize the goals into what's critical; focus on achieving your most critical goals before moving onto less important goals.
Find the right time to get started
Before you start integrating your chosen PIM into your business processes, it’s important to consider the following points.
- Ensure you have all necessary resources available. This includes having the right budget and time allotted for this project. You will also need support within your organization from people who know what to do with the PIM solution. You also need to make sure everyone is involved in using this new system instead of stubbornly sticking to old methods.
- Consider if the current time is the best opportunity to kick off the project. But there could be internal projects at hand that might be hindered during the integration, so it might be best to wait after those projects are complete.
Dedicate a skilled and focused project team
One of the most important factors in improving your PIM implementation is to have a dedicated project team. A highly skilled and focused project team will help improve the implementation of your PIM. The first thing you need to do is hire a skilled Project Manager who will manage all aspects of this project and keep things moving forward on time and within budget. This person should also have experience in implementing other types of software applications, as well as ERP systems or other in-depth PIM software solutions like Supplysail. This person needs to work with everyone involved including IT staff, end-users, business process owners/analysts and anyone else who will be impacted.
In addition to having a PM on board, it’s important to have an expert team with different skillsets so they can address issues.
Schedule regular check-ins with key stakeholders
You need to set aside time on a semi-regular basis to discuss the state of your processes and programs, as well as what’s going right, what’s wrong, and how you can improve. You should schedule check-ins with key stakeholders at least once a month; ideally more often so everyone has an opportunity for input. As mentioned earlier about improving PIM implementation, some organizations will want weekly meetings—even daily meetings would be better in a few cases!
Be realistic about timescales
The first step to improving your PIM implementation is to be realistic. The last thing you want is a project that drags on forever. Here are some tips for making sure you have a realistic idea of how long it will take:
- Make sure you have a realistic idea of how much time the project will take, and make sure everyone involved knows this as well. Do research and determine how long similar projects took in other organizations, consult with experts who have experience with these kinds of projects (e.g., an internal IT team or an outside contractor). You should also set aside enough time for project planning activities, conducting meetings, and doing research into new technologies available for your use—all important steps towards successful implementation!
- Keep in mind there are many factors that affect how long your project takes; these include staffing resources (e.g., departmental employees vs contractors), budget constraints (i.e., funding limitations), technological limitations (e.g., old vs new software), organizational culture/structure ("friction points"), etc."
- Supplysail PIM implementations usually take about 4 weeks for quick deployment and 6-8 weeks for in-depth implementation, excluding channel level integrations.
Prepare for change management
One of the most important steps in implementing a PIM is change management. Change management is a set of processes that help you manage how people react to change. It identifies and addresses issues, ensures everyone understands their role, develops consensus about how things should be done differently, and communicates changes clearly so everyone is informed throughout the process.
Change management is an essential part of any project because it helps manage unpredictable things that happen during implementation: resistance from employees who are already busy enough; miscommunication between departments; even a lack of support from leadership (if they don’t see why this kind of thing matters). It's also crucial if you want to stay on schedule or budget!
Provide training for new users
Providing training to all new users and stakeholders makes for an easier transition from older data management systems. Ideally, the vendor should provide this training. If they don’t, you’ll want to have some kind of plan from your end to ensure training is complete.
Vendor training can often be too late into production to mitigate the loss in productivity. You need to know how a system works before it goes live so when issues arise (and they always do), you’re prepared with solutions and resources.
Configure your PIM in advance
The longer you take to configure your PIM, the harder it becomes for changes later on post-integration. If you're implementing a new PIM from scratch, like Supplysail PIM, what functionality would make sense for your team and how are they likely to use it before committing to a design?
When configuring your PIM, test with actual users. It's also useful to have testers using different devices or platforms so you can see how well everything works on different platforms/devices. You might even want a tester who doesn't speak English as his first language; this will give you insight into whether there are any translation issues before rolling out to your whole organization.
Plan for contingencies
- Plan for Go Live Activities: The go live date is a critical milestone in your organization's deployment of an integrated platform. Take the time to plan and ensure you have all the necessary resources in place so it can be executed smoothly. You should also identify any activities to be completed prior to pushing the PIM live. Track all of these tasks until completion. This includes things like training, change management and testing.
- Plan for Contingencies: Having contingency plans ready when something goes wrong can save you significant time and money down the road. Make sure these contingency plans cover situations such as hardware failures or downtime due to third party services not functioning properly on their end. Keep in mind there will always be unknowns; but planning for roadblocks can make the experience smoother than just inevitably waiting for roadblocks to affect your project.
It's a journey, not a destination
Integration isn’t the final goal of PIM implementation. It’s about maximizing utilization and productivity from the tool and your team.
The best way to improve your usage of the system is to invest time and effort and learn how it works. If you’re able to give classes on what you’ve learnt during implementation and integration, that can make the transition easier for your team as well.
These tips should help you understand how your company can improve its PIM implementation. If you’re looking for a PIM that has a plethora of built-in features while being easy to use as well, check out the cloud-based Supplysail PIM platform, which is designed to help you manage your data easily and efficiently.