In this “summer series” of posts dedicated to Master Data Management for Product Data, we’ve gone across what we identified as the five most frequent use cases of MDM for product data. Now we are looking at the key capabilities that are needed in MDM platform to address each of these use cases. In this post, we address the MDM for Product Information Management, which is about managing the customer facing side of build to stock products.
MDM for Product Information Management needs both a strong front-end and a back-end. The front-end holds the process of referencing product and making sure it holds the most complete and accurate data for efficient distribution. Some consider that it is the role of a Commercial Off-The-Shelf product that comes with pre-configured data models, business processes and workflow ; others prefer to work with a platform that they can customize to their own needs and connect to separate front-end platforms like e-commerce applications. Indeed, this would depend on the gap between the business need and what is proposed out of the box in the packaged software.
In the platform case, the solution must provide strong capabilities in terms of search and easily integrate with third party solutions that provide those kinds of capabilities such as online catalogs, digital asset management solutions, search based applications… Collaborative authoring capabilities, workflows and Business Process Management are important capability to consider, too. Same for the capabilities to categorize products according to classification standards (such as GS1 Global Product Categorization or ecl@ss) or custom hierarchies.
No matter what is the choice for the front end side of PIM, the back end side will be very important too. Its goal is to integrate the incoming data and to make sure that it is quality proofed before the product data is delivered to customer facing activities. Strong rule based data quality capabilities should be provided for that, in order to assess the incoming data, measure and analyze its quality, delegate its stewardship to right stakeholders in case of inaccuracy, and control the overall process through a rule based approach.
Then the solution must connect to the business partners. This can be done through a supplier portal, through open APIs, or by connecting to a Global Data Synchronization Network. Ability to map to standard format and connect to those external exchanges if applicable is then needed.