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Noah Strerath 7 Minutes

Combining ERP and PIM: All essential information

Seamless Integration of ERP and PIM Made Easy

The integration of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is often a game-changer for companies because it allows for the automation of numerous processes across various areas of the business. However, an ERP system may encounter limitations in certain workflows and should therefore be complemented by additional systems such as Product Information Management (PIM). In this article, we aim to explain why a combination of these two systems makes sense for your company, which specific tasks are facilitated by the PIM, and how to best approach the question of the leading system.

Why is a combination of ERP and PIM meaningful?

When considering your company's ERP system, it likely contains your product master data such as item number, prices, or availability. These details are primarily relevant for internal logistics processes like production control. Often, this data in the ERP is represented by codes or abbreviations for more efficient handling. But what about sales-promoting information such as product descriptions or various media assets? Your ERP system may not suffice for managing this type of data due to limited field length or complex setup processes. This is where a PIM system like Perfion comes into play. Specifically designed for enriching and managing extensive product information, a PIM covers all marketing-related aspects. Therefore, a PIM complements your ERP system perfectly, allowing the ERP to focus solely on internal data. ESYON assists in integrating both systems with the Perfion-2-OXID (P2O) solution, seamlessly incorporating product information management into your existing OXID E-Commerce platform.

These tasks are simplified by the PIM.

A combination of ERP and PIM, as described earlier, can be seen as a logical step for your company. To better understand the value of this integration, we will now introduce six everyday tasks in the ERP that can be facilitated with Perfion PIM, for example.

  1. Creating a new product
    When introducing a new product line, new products need to be created in your ERP system. Especially for items with novel information or labels, this can be a time-consuming process as corrections need to be made to the current ERP system. With a PIM, new products can be created separately, and data fields can be added without any limitations, saving time, before transferring them to the ERP.

  2. Updating product information
    Updating your product information is also facilitated by linking with a PIM. In an ERP system, adding, for example, a new certification to your products would have required editing each individual item. With a PIM, such an update only requires adjusting a single data field, and there is automatic synchronization with the ERP. This not only saves resources but also reduces the risk of errors.

  3. Preparing new products for sale
    Imagine your company wants to prepare a new product line for sale, but the final decision on individual items is still pending. To have these products available for all eventualities without affecting the ERP system, a PIM must be used. While data cannot be deleted in an ERP, the new products are marketable with a PIM system before they become relevant for sale.

  4. Utilizing ERP data in other channels
    With a PIM system, publishing and managing data across the multitude of your channels such as website, online shop, or catalogues is much easier. Without integration, you would have to gather all product information from various sources and prepare it for each channel, but the PIM can handle all file formats, and relevant information only needs to be clicked on.

  5. Printing ERP data
    Another advantage is printing ERP data. With a PIM, you can customize and print PDF files for the respective recipient. For a datasheet for one of your customers, only the offer volume and the desired product information for the offer need to be selected in the PIM system.

  6. Searching for product information in ERP
    An integrated PIM system provides search capabilities and a good overview of all your data. This makes it easy to add new filter types to the range and search for existing errors to fix them.

Reading tip: Find out why a PIM is indispensable for multi-channel e-commerce in this article.

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The question of the leading system

If you have now decided on a combination of ERP and PIM due to the many advantages, you are faced with an important decision. For smooth communication and uncomplicated data exchange, it must be determined which of the systems has data sovereignty. Both the ERP and the PIM have certain advantages and disadvantages to act as the leading system.

ERP as the leading system

With an ERP as the leading system, your product data record is created in the ERP system. The PIM retrieves the approved data from the ERP and then processes it in its own system. Advantages of this approach include low setup effort, clear process responsibilities, and clear responsibilities of the systems for marketing or commercial data. Additionally, you are spared the effort of adapting the product lifecycle management (PLM) because it is controlled from the ERP. However, the disadvantages include double data maintenance, which leads to greater effort in training and handling your employees, as well as potential costs if purchased products need to be created in the ERP system before the PIM learns about the items.

PIM as the leading system

In the second approach, the initial product data set is created in a system like Perfion PIM. The PIM then creates approved products in the ERP, retrieves the article numbers via an additional interface, and queries the subsequently maintained information in the ERP. This provides your company with more flexibility in creating new articles, and suppliers can be more easily integrated into the data maintenance process. Additionally, this approach allows for staggered assortment selection, and your mass data can be easily imported into the PIM without affecting your ERP. However, disadvantages include increased data flow and the need to define data sovereignty for each field. This ultimately leads to more complex processes and data interfaces. Additionally, the product lifecycle between both systems is divided, resulting in more challenging data management.

Reading Tip: In this article, we show you how to use push notifications for your marketing strategy.

Here's how to choose the right approach for your business.

As described earlier, both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the decision on which system to make the leading one should be carefully considered. To choose the best option for your company, we will show you the steps to take.

First, you need to ask yourself the following key question: Is the current product creation process already tightly integrated into the ERP environment? If so, your ERP should be retained as the leading system to avoid the need to adapt a large number of business processes. If the current product creation process is not tightly integrated into the ERP environment, you should consider the following steps.

Inspect the ERP system

Thoroughly examine your company's current ERP system. The older and more customized the system is, the more complex the implementation of a connection would be if the PIM is leading. However, if you are planning to switch or upgrade your ERP, it makes sense to leave data sovereignty to the PIM to facilitate the transition process. Also, consider how well the ERP can be integrated. With a flexible system, both leadership scenarios are conceivable.

Consider current product procedures

In the next step, consider how your product data is currently stored. If your company already has a central location, it should be retained for creating new articles. However, if the process is time-consuming, switching to the PIM as the leading system is recommended. Also, examine the PLM process. If it is already integrated into the ERP system, there is a strong argument for the ERP in the leading role. However, the more products your company handles and produces itself, the more you should lean towards the PIM option.

Review planned product data

Lastly, review the product information you plan to create. If you are planning mass imports and bulk data management, the PIM should be the leading system. This is also the case if you plan for product management to create the data. If purchasing is responsible for this task, the ERP can be chosen as the leading system. However, if multiple departments are involved in the creation process, the PIM is preferred again. Finally, you need to consider the implementation, as for a step-by-step implementation, the ERP is recommended as the leading system.

Once you have answered all these questions for your company, you should come to an informed decision, and there will be nothing standing in the way of a successful connection between ERP and PIM. For further questions about combining your company's systems or for detailed consultation, ESYON, as an official Perfion Solution Partner, is always available to assist you.

We also support your company!

For over 10 years, ESYON has been implementing e-commerce projects for medium-sized businesses, combining expertise in online shops, PIM, and ERP. In an initial consultation, we discuss the possibilities for your company without any obligation.

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