April 14, 2010

A Manufacturer’s 10-Step Data Preparation Plan

Last week we announced the top four data content requests from distributors. This week we are sharing best practices from one of our manufacturer customers on how to deliver and/or update data in the IDW Data Synchronization Platform and answer those types of requests. Phil Barrios, IDEA Standards Committee Chair and Sr. Director, Corp. Marketing & E-Business of Hubbell Incorporated, recommends this 10-step action plan.

1. Clean up old data – determine current sellable merchandise and purge or archive your old product data.

2. Separate product data based on usage – determine which product data will benefit distribution.

3. Export core/transactional data– this includes the data needed to conduct a business transaction. Sort all distribution products by catalog number and check for problem areas.

4. Develop internal standards – define acceptable data values for the problem areas identified (e.g. Hubbell discovered that some product descriptions stated “no description available”).

5. Fix problem areas – apply the internal standards to all your current data and take the opportunity to teach product managers best practices for data quality.

6. Re-import data – after data is cleaned, import it into your business system to have “one version of the truth”– current and accurate data.

7. Develop a product life-cycle management process – decide how you will keep product data up-to-date (e.g. you can’t launch a product until certain information is available and stored in your business system). This requires the most discipline and is often the hardest step of change management.

8. Sync data with trading partners – now you are ready to convey the updated (clean) data into IDW, to ensure your internal data matches the data your customers use to search for and sell your products.

9. Keep data updated – send product updates to IDW as it becomes available and give your trading partners advance notice of important changes using IDW features such as product life-cycle or future pricing indicator codes.

10. Focus on providing attributed data – utilize the Electrical Attribute Schema to begin the process of populating IDW with standardized product descriptions and marketing information.

Barrios shared his best practices in the case study “A Journey through Data Discovery”. These steps can serve as a quick check-list for any manufacturer that is ready to improve the quality and accuracy of its IDW data.