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Should we buy product information management (PIM) software?

We currently have an enterprise master data management (MDM) system. Is it possible that we'll eventually need product information management (PIM) software as well (as we grow)? What's the best way to make that judgment?

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If you're already thinking about buying product information management (PIM) software, you are way too well-intentioned. Let me guess. You're the person who also decided to buy customer demographic data because marketing would probably need it, and your extract, transform and load (ETL) jobs into your data warehouse load the entire source system, not just the records that meet the business requirements. You're just too gosh darn nice for your own good.

So this might be painful for you to hear but I'm telling you this because I really like you and I want you to succeed. So here it is: Don't do PIM unless there's a business need. (Sorry, PIM vendors!) But really, if there's not a clear business need for PIM, the fact that your company is doing customer data integration (CDI) (and I'm sure you're doing it well, you over-achiever you) isn't enough to justify PIM.

When to buy product information management software

There are some clear business indicators that a PIM solution might be in order. Multiple product catalogs, different product categories and hierarchies, conflicting product definitions and names and others. Take a look at my answer to one of your fellow readers about what to consider before buying PIM software.

And then, if you really must, you need to understand the benefits of PIM software to your organization. Go have a conversation with some of your product managers, merchandisers or supply chain experts and ask them where it hurts. Let me guess. You've already done that. You are TOO nice!

This was first published in September 2008

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