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One Size doesn’t fit all – The Complexities of a Global PIM

Gautam Sood

By Gautam Sood

On January 2, 2017

Need for a Global PIM

Organizations that excel in provisioning Rich Product Content, Consistent Messaging, Optimum Assortment Mix and Accelerated Time to Market often have mature Processes, Data Management Practices and Technology at their disposition. Organizations with a Global reach realize the need for a streamlined set of PIM processes and data – that support the whole of the enterprise – and not just ‘some’ parts of the business.

Apart from customer-facing benefits of Consistent branding, Streamlined Customer experience, there are operational benefits of SKU Nonproliferation, Employee Productivity, and additional benefits ranging from Consistent Global Reporting, Product Sharing (across Regions) and readiness towards M&As. Lastly, a Global PIM ensures a more coherent and connected internal teams.

However, as forward-looking organizations decide to embark on a Global PIM journey – the projection of the end-state looks blurry due to multiple Regions* (and thus stakeholders) at play.  The definition of the end-state has both Business, Organizational and Solution (Technology) considerations.

*I use Region as the denominator for highlighting the Global PIM concept. However, the context for a Global PIM can be based on any Entity that forms an organization – Regions/Divisions/Business Units/Product Lines/Brands etc.

How different is my Organization today – within itself?

A Current State synthesis has to be a necessary first step that aims at inventorying the current processes, data structures, Organizational Roles across the Regions. A comprehensive data analysis often provides insights that were deemed unlikely – regarding how products are being created by different SKU IDs (and descriptions) – in spite of being the same exact product. This is just one example. There are numerous other variables that uncover the variations – spanning underlying Metadata, Definitions, Packaging/Handling/Storage Instructions, and other variables spanning Product groupings (Taxonomies), Product Lifecycle status, etc. The list goes on.

Key Elements at Play

Organizations need to ask some key questions in support of the end-state. Following are some key ones:

  • Are my Products homogeneous in nature?
  • How variant are the markets that my Products serve?
  • Do we adopt a single Enterprise-wide process/data structures?
  • Do we keep a Global Organization, or Regional, or both?
  • How would the Governance Organization look like?
  • Who would own the Definitions?
  • How would the Application Landscape look like?
  • Would I need multiple PIM instances by Regions?

Variance is the KING

A Global PIM is not a Consolidation exercise. Variance is the reality, and it has to be supported. Though the core Product information (usually characteristics) doesn’t have to vary, the operational processes and data have to. The same applies to Organizational Roles that are Regional vs. Global.

The current state gives vital insights into what is truly Regional vs. what can be called Global. Common aspects such as Data Definitions, Reference Information, Global Roles (if feasible) can be deemed global. But Regional issues have to stay separate (Regional).


Depending on the Organization’s Vision, Information Management objectives, Variance of the PIM processes (current vs. future), the Global PIM end-state may look different for the various organizations. The three core modes are:

  • De-Centralized: Control lies at the Region-level. Regions operate independently with little collaboration. Reference information can be shared.
  • Centralized: Single Consolidated Processes and Organization Roles span Regions. Data being managed can be varied by the Region, but the more the variance – the less plausible this End-State becomes.
  • Federated: Global vs. Entity level Control can be varied.

I know my end-state, but my Tool-kit is dated

A well laid out plan is half work done. Implementation is the next step. It needs a robust, flexible Tool-Kit that supports/imbibes the possible Global PIM end-states intrinsically (as part of the Tool Architecture).  Else, realizing a Global PIM can end up becoming an extensively customized project – increasing risk and costs. A strong Team who has experience in dealing with the Global PIM variations is fundamental.

At last, a Business Sponsor who has influence over the whole enterprise is a must.