Processing product data: manual vs. automatic

To keep all important channels up-to-date for customers, data managers are in need of new, relevant product data on a regular basis. In most cases, organizations use Excel files to process product information. In other cases, systems like an ERP are used. When product data is still being processed manually, it is hard to manage and enrich that data, and to publish it to all channels. Some organizations choose to process their product data via automated tools, for instance, a Product Information Management (PIM) system. But what are the differences between manual and automatic processing of data? And what is best for your organization?

Processing your data by hand

Organizations that regularly process their product data by hand, often make use of Excel files. In other cases, organizations might have their departments use separate databases to store and update data. For companies that are working with moderate amounts of data, perhaps as a result of a limited product portfolio, this is an easy and cheap way to keep track of all essential product data.

However, for companies that have to deal with data of numerous products, it is inevitable that errors will occur when data is processed by hand. We generally see that manual processing of data leads to files with information being spread across the entire organization. When large amounts of data are being processed manually, it becomes nearly impossible to know whether all data is up-to-date and complete, or if it was processed according to the correct standards. Errors in product data affect all parts of your organization and can drastically lower a product’s time-to-market.

Processing your data automatically

Automatic processing of product data is possible when organizations make use of a PIM system. One of the greatest benefits of a PIM system is that it optimizes all internal process by collecting product data and publishing it to all relevant channels. Especially for organizations that have a wide range of products, this is the best -and most efficient- way to ensure all data is both correct and complete.

A PIM system can be integrated with other systems of an organization and connects these systems with the channels that require product information for consumers. This way, a single-source-of-truth is created — a central point in the organization where all product data is stored. This eventually leads to better data quality as you are ensured that all data is up-to-date and complete.

On the other hand, implementing a PIM system asks for a considerable investment from the organization. Not only financially, but also in terms of adapting the organization’s internal processes — as everyone will need to change the way they process data. It does pay off, however! When data processing is optimized with the aid of a PIM system, it leads to more insight into the quality of product data and a faster time-to-market. It will also lower the risk of errors occurring, thereby protecting your company from any potential negative consequences.

Should I process my data manually or automatically?

The choice of how to process your product data depends greatly on the type of organization and the amount of data that needs to be processed. In our view, organizations should stop processing their data by hand, when:

  • They are working with numerous products and large amounts of product data;
  • Their product portfolio and/or product data changes regularly;
  • There are multiple channels where product data is published;
  • They are working with data standards such as GS1.

How do you process your data?

Do you want to know more about the differences between manual and automatic processing of product data, and why manual processing is no longer the way to go? Read our free e-book and learn everything you need to know!