Nowadays, every company that wants to manage its product information effectively can hardly do without the use of a PIM system (Product Information Management System). But the choice of PIM software is not an easy task — there are many PIM systems on the market, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the decision to choose a PIM solution cannot be made by a future user, because of the lack of technical know-how or expertise. In this case, PIM consultants can be brought on board.
In this article, I explain when and for what purpose it makes sense to engage a PIM consultant and I will also compare all leading PIM consultations on different criteria.
PIM consulting: why do you need it?
There are close to 100 PIM software systems worldwide and the competition is only increasing with AtroPIM, Perfion, inRiver, OpusCapita (jCatalog), MeDaPro, Akeneo, and Pimcore as some of the top solutions for SMEs. Even a handful could be tough to choose from so what would you do with a hundred?
Aside from the wide selection, another thing to consider is the price. Some of the PIM solutions can get quite expensive, whether it is a single payment of subscription-based. Open source solutions (e.g. AtroPIM, Akeneo, Pimcore) are on the lower scale in terms of pricing. The price can also depend on the set feature you require, so identifying your technical needs is yet another thing to take into account.
Which brings us to the next point — you need a qualitative assessment of your business requirements, and that is surely a task for someone with technical expertise. Now, imagine you don’t have a technical partner or you do but they don’t have enough experience implementing product information management software into a company’s processes.
How can you incorporate any of the solutions most effectively if you don’t have sufficient knowledge of how these systems work? That’s where PIM consulting comes in.
What problems can be there?
A potential user can be faced with many problems and PIM consulting can help:
- If you have limited data about the PIM software available on the market
- If you don’t have enough time that you could dedicate to choosing a PIM system
- If you don’t know how PIM software should work or how to get the most efficient results from implementing it
- If you have a limited understanding of which technical features the PIM system should have based on your business needs
- If you don’t have staff qualified to select and implement PIM software at your company
- If you don’t know how exactly automating product information management can help you
If you have one of these problems, engaging a PIM consultant may be the best solution for you.
The role of PIM consultants in the implementation process
The implementation of a PIM software occurs in several project phases, roughly it can be divided as follows:
- PIM evaluation
- The conception of the aspired PIM solution
- Project implementation
- Subsequent support
1st project phase: Choosing PIM software
This is the key stage and a crucial task for a PIM consulting provider. A lot of the service providers specialize solely in helping you choose a system that suits your needs.
At the first project stage, PIM consultants can provide the following services:
- Supplying you with easily digestible information about PIM systems in general, such as their types and features
- Performing a business analysis to identify the baseline requirements
- Creating a requirement catalog together with the user
- Shortlisting PIM programs based on the information received
- Assisting in getting to know the shortlisted providers and in the final choice of PIM software
2nd project phase: Concept
A PIM software provider or their Solution Partner usually leads the implementation, but you will be actively involved in this process, especially during the conception phase. Meanwhile, a PIM consultant can keep an eye on the process or act as an external project manager. They will bring the necessary expertise to the table.
In this phase of the project, ensuring that the selected PIM system can be properly adapted to the company's technical requirements is particularly crucial. All operating processes related to the preparation of product information should be taken into account and the departments that will use the software should be in on the process as well.
PIM consulting can give you an alternative expert opinion on all pressing issues. With two expert opinions — one from the implementing service provider and another from your own PIM consultant — you can make a more educated decision.
At the conception phase, look for the following services from the PIM consulting provider:
- Advising on the implementation of data standards and legal requirements
- Assisting in special cases, for example, if you have doubts about what decision to make, you can ask for further consulting
- Acting as an intermediary between you and the PIM system provider
- Assuming the role of the project management
3rd project phase: Project implementation
When you have chosen the software and are ready to implement it, a PIM consultant will be your right hand at:
- Taking over the project management duties (for example, as a product owner) to lead the project from start to finish
- Providing advisory support
4th project phase: Subsequent support
PIM implementation doesn’t stop at installing and configuring/customizing the software. After your system is set up, a PIM consultant can provide useful services, such as:
- Leading the onboarding process — training, seminars, and workshops for employees about the efficient use of PIM software — to make the implementation process as smooth as possible for those using it
- Performing plausibility checks and evaluations of how well the set goals are achieved through project implementation
- Analyzing the quality of use and suggesting more effective ways of handling your PIM software
- Helping with change management — deciding how the current solution can be further customized to manage new business requirements
The choice of the right PIM software for your company is times easier when you employ the expert opinion of a PIM consultant. But with that comes the choice of a consulting provider. When choosing a consulting agency, you should consider the industry experience, service portfolio and neutrality of a service provider. Everyone should carefully weigh all the pros and cons for themselves.
Get a PIM consulting agency on board as soon as you decide to explore the benefits of incorporating a PIM system into your business. Involving an expert at the early stages will guarantee a smoother implementation process and more efficient results in the long run.