Step 1: Start a Pre-discovery readiness Project
Map ‘As Is’ Product lifecycle: typically no one person in an organisation will understand or know the end to end product lifecycle. A short pre-discovery Business Analysis project is a great place to start, some of the key activities of this project are listed below:
- Map existing Product Lifecycle Process: from the birth of a SKU to ‘live’ to decommissioned across all channels
- Select a single person to champion / own product model
- Review merchandising activity i.e. category level promotions, product recommendations
- Map PIM data exchange with key suppliers/partners/customers
- Documentation sourcing existing schema definitions, blueprints, solution architecture diagrams
- Think about ‘Future state’ understand what channels you operate in, where you sell most of your products and where the biggest areas of opportunity are i.e. (Mobile).
Systems / IT preparation: prior to implementing a PIM the existing product/data model is typically dispersed around multiple systems within the organisation and de-normalised.
- Define your current PIM systems architecture (dB’s, spreadsheets, tools)
- Understand / document current product workflow across different systems
- Interfaces — how do systems communicate, (protocols, tools, frequency, times)
- Caches — how many layers of caching do you have been existing PIM & UI layer / Target channels
- Data Migration who is / should be responsible for cleansing data, and data migration
- Map your high-level requirements (the discovery themes section below provides a high-level guide)
- Non-functional requirements: catalogue loads, delta updates, suppliers
Step 2: Select a software vendor and partner
You now know the following:
- Current product lifecycle process
- High level future operating vision
- Current system limitations
- High-level system requirements
- Business requirements (who and how tooling will be used)
- Critical Interfaces
- Product data model complexities
Thus, you are prepared with a wealth of information to begin the vendor selection process, qualifying suitable products vendors and PIM software implementation partners.
The Vendor selection process:
- Conduct Initial market sounding
- Ensure a down selection takes place 2 vendors
- Ask for sector relevant partners and speak to at least 2 referees
- Proof of concept: execute a Proof of Concept with at least 1 vendor and partner to get a feel for the product and implementation approach prior to full sign-off.
- Initiate a readiness effort/project prior to or in parallel with vendor selection
- Product Owner / Sponsor: Identify these people early and ensure they are engaged.
- Business Users: understand the capability spread of your user base, are you users: data-driven, visual merchandising driven or do you have both needs?
- Contact critical suppliers/customers and understand their requirements & limitations.
- Execute a proof of concept with at least one software vendor & partner with a subset of your data to get a feel for the product & partner approach.
Step 3: Discovery — requirements capture
In terms of approach to discovery and the subsequent implementation phase, at Tacit we favour an agile approach. Fundamental to our approach is the Feature Map. This is a tool utilised to shape, visualise and group the components of the pending solution. We break down the implementation into small manageable functional themes, each containing granular requirements or user stories. The feature map can be used for multiple purposes and drives the priority of workshops, scope, and even helps monitor project progress.
The Feature Map
The diagram below highlights at high-level how a feature map can be utilised for a PIM project.