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Finding a sustainable growth path with agile PIM
April 30, 2021
When companies find themselves entering a period of rapid growth, it can be a time of great optimism but also great uncertainty. Is this sudden growth expected and appropriately planned for? Are the forces driving it understood? Is it going to be possible to maintain consistent levels of customer experience and service while keeping all the wheels turning?
Of course, growth is to be welcomed, especially after a period of economic uncertainty, and companies want to make sure that they’re in the best position to take advantage of it.
Take manufacturers such as The Leister Group, a Swiss technology group with an international sales network. It needs to keep control of a broad and complex inventory while a rapidly changing sales environment means it must be able to provide access to accurate, up-to-date product information across a variety of stakeholders ranging across administration, product management, sales, and marketing. To truly be able to achieve this, it embarked on a mission to reorganize its product data, and sought out the right Product Information Management (PIM) technology for its needs.
Sustainable growth means having systems on board, such as centralized PIM and Digital Asset Management (DAM), that support all of these functions and allow them to interact easily with each other. Getting these systems in place and functioning smoothly is the foundation that underpins the three phases of sustainable and profitable growth.
Phase one: Understand where the growth is coming from
Short-term surges in demand put intense pressure on companies without the resources to meet it. Not only does this mean they can’t serve new customers, but they can also potentially damage the relationship with existing, loyal ones.
However, if growth looks like it is coming from a sustainable source – an acquisition, a new market opening up – investing in the technology, teams, and processes necessary to meet that demand is imperative.
Equally, not all growth is imminent. Companies most likely to succeed are ones that anticipate growth in their future and prepare for it. Centralizing and organizing data such as vital product information is a critical starting point in this preparation. Clear, semantically managed product information such as Leister’s creates a strong foundation for growth, and allows companies to respond quickly to market changes, without dramatically impacting costs or processes, if needs be.
Phase two: Implement and manage resources
Arguably, rushing to invest in more resources to manage a sharp increase in demand or to deliver on new product lines is coming a little late to the party. In an ideal world, companies would have flexible technologies and structures that allow them to react to new conditions with both foresight and agility.
In the real world, however, many companies are operating at or near maximum capacity. This makes financial sense because no-one wants to be paying for resources that lie around unused.
Increasingly, technologies allow companies to scale up and down as demand dictates. With automated, scalable solutions, organizations are able to increase their output without putting extra strain on an organization’s human resources.
This means that it is possible to implement technologies during a period of ‘business as usual’, preparing the business for any future escalation in demand without generating a costly over-supply of resource.
When Leister implemented censhare’s PIM, the whole organization benefited from relief from repetitive tasks as automation took the strain which, in turn, created efficiencies. Equally, making sure all the relevant employees were trained on how to use the PIM system meant there was a reduction in external costs too.
Importantly the company realized that it was important to put in extra work at this first implementation stage to realign all its product information content, making sure it was available from the get-go in all channels and all languages. It was additional work to begin with, but it meant that not only was the business optimized for today’s needs, it was ready to adapt easily to future needs.
Creating adaptable systems brings legacy systems up to date, introduces greater efficiency into the organization overall and makes businesses growth-ready at any moment.
Phase three: Review and refresh goals
Whether actively experiencing growth or laying the groundwork for a more adaptable, agile organization, it’s vital to have clear goals and KPIs for any investment. When the aim is to manage growth whose extent is uncertain, how to measure for success may not be immediately clear.
In this case, companies should set goals that can be achieved in a clear time frame and that have established parameters. We have already noted that technologies that can help manage growth tomorrow also generate cost efficiencies and improve effectiveness today. Setting goals such as a reduction in production errors or reducing duplication in content systems generate tangible financial results before speculating on what the returns might be during a period of unspecified growth.
Constantly reviewing the performance of new implementations has other benefits. Aside from measuring against established KPIs, organizations should approach their measurement processes with an open mind. In particular, what opportunities has the technology opened up?
In Leister’s case, having users actively involved in the implementation, creating ‘user stories’, it meant the PIM platform could be calibrated to respond to their needs today as well as identifying how they might like to use additional functions in the future.
Strong, sustainable growth clearly must be the goal of every successful business, whether that happens tomorrow or in several years’ time.
Whatever the timeframe, it pays to be prepared. A highly effective centralized Product Information Management system doesn’t just position the company for growth, it makes the most of its potential today.
To find out more about howcenshare’s PIM solution and wider content management systems can help your business achieve efficiency today and growth tomorrow, download the Leister customer success story.