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Most companies underestimate the value of structured data. While a company’s forte may be data collection, it may be ineffective at storing, organising, protecting, and verifying product data in a meaningful way. As data management has become inextricably linked to customer experience, the data fragmentation along the supply chain can lead to business inefficiencies. These inefficiencies plaguing companies’ supply chains have necessitated deeper analysis beyond the use of data-heavy spreadsheets, outdated ERP systems, and other applications.
This calls for a clear data management strategy closely integrated with a software platform to store information in one secure environment and manage it in real-time. In the supply chain world, this hints at product data management.
Considering the importance of data management and the facilitation of interactions between suppliers, partners, brokers and shippers, there is a need for timely access to data that is organised, consistent and accurate. Data driven product management involves ensuring that your company’s supply chain data is consistent, harmonised, standardised and also accessible by multiple teams across an organisation.
|As per Gartner, by 2023, 50% of global product-centric corporations would have adopted platforms that provide real-time transportation visibility. Furthermore, Gartner also predicts that by 2024, 50% of supply chain organisations will continue to invest in applications that support AI and data analytics capabilities.|
Product Data Management (PDM) is the use of software to host and maintain product data and technical process information in a unified and secure platform. Further, the ideal PDM software structures information in a dataset that can be further analysed, managed and summarised in the form of enterprise-level data reports with the option of any time data retrieval.
Let us now look at some key reasons why PDM is indispensable in today’s supply chain management environment.
With the increase in data volume and its availability through multiple touchpoints, the question about data authenticity arises. The presence of diverse sources, processes and systems have also added to its complexity. For instance, a company having multiple vendors and customers may be unable to provide accurate product lifecycle information without adequate data management. Hence, the need of the hour is a single point of reference to derive insights and make informed decisions.
Here are five key benefits associated with PDM:
Typically in production, goods would move from the manufacturer’s factory to the wholesaler’s warehouse, to the retailer’s storage, and finally to the store shelves for customers to buy. At each stage, information such as barcode, raw materials, end-use, products specifications (size, colour, weight), price, etc., are available but end up being scattered throughout the process. However, appropriate data management not only makes it available across the supply chain but also allows for accessibility in a faster, accurate and efficient manner.
Product data management helps in cleansing, validating, cross-referencing and consolidating multiple data attributes to provide a holistic view of customers, products, suppliers and partners. This is done through a centralised and synchronised platform that helps track and route products through procurement, manufacturing, and distribution stages. It provides 24/7 global access to technical and commercial product master data. Thus, in the ever-evolving data landscape, it presents itself as a single-source repository of data that is secure and is considered as a “golden record”.
Often organisations with siloed departments lack visibility of their entire supply chain. Without data perceptibility, the decisions made or functions performed may bring about skewed and inconsistent results. Integration of data and systems across the enterprises is the first step to transparency and reliability.
For instance, a grocery store that often stocks meat gains visibility into attributes like cold chain requirements, the shelf life of the products, replenishment methods, etc. These vital pieces of information may typically also be captured through an automated method. However, ensuring that the data is visible accurately to all departments will only be possible if the data is in sync.
Data driven product management would entail cumulative collection and screening of all this information to ensure end-to-end consistency and accuracy. What assists in this process is a PDM software that merges data sets and integrates various systems (supplier, ERP, CRM, etc.) to provide organisation-wide transparency.
Another instance that would benefit from product data management software would be a merger or acquisition. Here, both existing and new products, suppliers, vendors and systems can be on-boarded and tied together seamlessly. Thereafter, to ensure an efficient process, the parent company would easily be able to view variations or revenue generation and cost-cutting opportunities.
According to a survey by Ipsos Global, 61% of customers first scan online channels to undertake research prior to product purchase in brick-and-mortar stores. If your product data management is up to speed, you wouldn’t have to worry about online or offline sales. By pooling data together and ensuring it is organised and updated, you will benefit from enhanced visibility online and increased buyer conversions at all customer touchpoints.
In fact, efficient inventory management translates to better demand forecasting, which can strategically differentiate you from other market players. When implemented together through the channel of a product data management software, you are assured of timely access to information. It allows companies to monitor supplier stock availability, enable faster movement of goods, increase distribution efficiency and meet customers’ requirements round the clock.
A successful PDM software implementation can help you in more than just inventory upkeep. It provides the ability to avoid excess or inadequate inventories, helps forecast seasonal variations, increase order-fulfilment and fill rates, and more. The single source of truth helps improve efficiency and monitoring and plays a significant role in predictive and prescriptive analysis. The timely access to information decreases the overall burden on inventory management and provides added benefits of cost reduction and customer satisfaction.
Big data is here and now, and data-driven insights will help in realising customer behaviours and sales patterns. When we talk about data product management, it refers to how representative our project data is and how it is presented to various internal stakeholders. Firstly, it involves designing a system that manages product-related information in one central location. At this single source, engineering teams then integrate PDM software to upload, store, and organise data in a secure repository.
The product data management software is workflow-driven and continuously drives data capture and cleansing. It also seamlessly integrates with other applications, thereby providing the ability to track revisions, collaborate with teams, ensure that information is in sync across multiple sites, all in real-time. For instance, if your company were engaged in distributing auto-ancillary products, this application would provide ultimate control over data such as part number, part descriptions and attributes, cross-references, supersessions, replacement part release sequence, and more.
Further, the technical data from the PDM software combined with methodologies like data analytics, blockchain, AI or ML acts as a catalyst for other software and systems within the supply chain. Overall, the benefits derived from the product data management software are end-to-end traceability, version control, obsolescence management and detailed workflow management for methodical data management.
While product data management has various benefits, it cannot be successful without proper governance. For instance, data management and governance would mean defining the product master data, such as an outline of a customer or a product, detailing data retention policies, and defining roles and responsibilities for data creation, collation, and classification.
The supply chain process comprises various data exchange points, be it design, sourcing, planning, production, finance, and so forth. During this process, goods and services are exchanged or enhanced along with the added element of data generated along the way. Further, depending on the size of the supply chain, information sharing may rise exponentially. Inadequate governance may lead to data leaks, risk of data exchange via unauthorised networks, insufficient business forecasts, etc. Thus, rises the need for data management through a robust infrastructure to ensure security and protection of informational assets.
Considering data is shared across the organisation, it needs to create a strategy that enables internal and external participants to view data risk-free. A PDM software helps reconcile fragmented views into a single view integrated with the discipline of data governance.
In the coming years, the amount of data to be managed will only increase. Hence, it is imperative to have in place systems and processes to effectively streamline it daily. As is evident from the above discussions, product data management is more successful when backed by a technological solution. Hence, choosing the right PDM software can help carve out a secure and robust data management plan that is essential for the success of your business.
TVS SCS offers a single portal to handle product data by eliminating silos and integrating information seamlessly across processes and domains. If you are looking for a consolidated, scalable, unified platform that binds product master data while improving your company’s overall management, connect with us today!