How do you develop a successful content strategy to support your PIM software initiative? Thankfully, in many cases, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
You can look to those who have successfully launched Product Information Management and leverage their lessons learned. That’s one reason why we place such significance on cultivating a PIM/MDM user community that is unparalleled in collaboration.
In today’s post, we are sharing three content strategy rules from one of our Enable™ PIM champions, Fender Musical Instruments.
Rule #1: Start with a Well-Structured Data Model
When constructing a data model, businesses should think in terms of future scaling and all possible use cases. This requires a dynamic data model structure that adapts to your business needs.
What do we mean by dynamic? Flexible data modeling capabilities allow organizations of all sizes to easily access, view and manipulate complex business requirements without coding. This allows the user to easily handle multiple data scenarios, attributes, locations, and relationships. In other words, the solution adapts to a company’s business needs, not vice versa.
For example, Fender leveraged EnterWorks Dynamic Data Modeling to structure its “display” and “sellable” functions by location rather than specific SKU. This model allows for future globalization of Fender’s products. It also addresses the fact that many Fender products are available in select markets, and often specifications vary between countries (i.e., amplifier voltages differ per locale). This structure provides Fender with the flexibility to model their content entities for current projects as well as for future business needs.
Rule #2: Data is Fluid, So Be Flexible
In the PIM world, we often talk about flexibility and scalability. Why? Because data is fluid. To drive home that point, Gartner has said that the “volume, velocity, and variety” of data is accelerating. In order to adapt to the changing volume and pace of data, organizations need data management platforms that can evolve and scale.
Fender’s advice for organizations is to choose a PIM solution that works best for the majority of business cases, but that also can evolve as business needs change. For example, you can establish conventions for data fields and information, but you must also be willing to modify these conventions if/when needed. You should feel empowered to experiment with the data without compromising core data governance rules.
Rule #3: The Golden Rule: Build a Strong Post-Implementation Strategy
Establishing PIM as the single source of truth for all product data is just the beginning of your journey. If you approach your PIM initiative in the most effective way, you’ll also think about how you can continually develop new use cases for the platform.
The tendency for businesses is to assume that a program only has a single purpose. This often leads to multiple systems used for the same purpose, which eventually causes data governance issues and wasted resources.
The fact is, a powerful PIM solution can be used for a multitude of business cases. It is important for the core PIM team to evangelize the benefits throughout the organization and encourage a “how can the PIM assist here” mentality.
Many times, the roadblock to addressing new needs is the fact that users aren’t aware of PIM’s full capabilities, or because they did not have the chance to express their requirements to the PIM group. Be proactive about asking questions about problem areas and developing solutions to meet these needs. As you create opportunities to handle expanded business needs, internal users will begin to gain confidence in the system and take an active role in making it a success.
Keep in mind that the beauty of PIM is that it doesn’t require a technical degree to create new functionality. In Fender’s case, their core administrators are not traditional IT professionals. They are individuals with plenty of project knowledge and an understanding of core database concepts. Your users can become your PIM subject matter experts if you open those doors for communication.
PIM Content Strategy Checklist
Fender shares this list of questions your team can use to build an effective post-implementation strategy:
- How will you train and develop users? Do you have the necessary documentation prepared to support this training?
- Who are your early adopters and what are their needs? This is your opportunity to ask and deliver solutions.
- What are the next phases of development and improvement for the toolset?
- Who will champion the content strategy to others outside of IT and the implementation group?
- What additional functionality will be required for future brand/product developments?
As this list shows, a successful PIM content strategy often boils down to bigger picture thinking, asking the right questions across the organization, and leveraging a PIM platform that allows for flexibility and growth.