January 9, 2015

IDEA Dictionary: PDD & Electrical Attribute Schema

When dealing with data, and all related terminology, you may feel like you’re trying to speak a foreign language. In the interest of keeping things clear and simple, we will introduce commonly-used terms in each newsletter that will help you navigate the data shorthand and learn the lingo. This week, we bring you two related terms: the Product Descriptor Database (PDD) and the Electrical Attribute Schema. 

A common misconception is that one standard drives the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). In fact, the IDW is comprised of two related, but separate, standardized sets of data: the Product Descriptor Database (PDD) and the Electrical Attribute Schema (“Schema”).

The Product Descriptor Database (PDD) is the original set of transactional fields on which the IDW was built. It is the foundation for all IDW-related format specification standards and standards guidelines, offering a standardized template that defines every product-centric data field in the IDW.

Manufacturers need the PDD as a guide for uploading product data into the IDW. The data fields and their defining codes, or qualifiers, are EDI-based, so data can be loaded via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), IDEA’s standardized Flat File, or IDEA’s XML formats. The PDD makes it easier for manufacturers to understand all of the fields that they can possibly populate in the IDW and demonstrates how to properly load and manage those fields. Similarly, the PDD provides distributors with a guide for the types of data fields that they can expect to receive from their manufacturer trading partners.

The Electrical Attribute Schema is an IDW standard that acts as a supplement to the PDD. The Schema, created by IDEA and specific to the electrical industry, is a standardized product descriptor template based on the global United Nations Standard Products and Services Codes (UNSPSC)® product categorization taxonomy. The Schema is a living document, subject to enhancements reflecting changing industry needs, and is used by manufacturers to communicate product categories and attributes, or descriptive product information (e.g. brand, voltage, color, etc.), to their trading partners through the IDW.

Providing this type of additional descriptive information helps manufacturers to differentiate their products, increase brand recognition, and make it easier for their trading partners to sell their products. In addition, the Schema sets expectations for distributors of which attributes they can expect to receive from their manufacturer trading partners. This data can be loaded via IDEA’s Flat File or Attribute XML standards.  

One could compare the PDD and Electrical Attribute Schema to adding a sunroom to a home. The original house’s blueprint (seen in white above) is the PDD – an existing structure, to which the homeowners decide to attach a sunroom years later. The sunroom (seen in yellow above) is the Electrical Attribute Schema and still needs to be furnished, heated, and lit like the rest of the house; however, it serves an extended purpose beyond basic shelter.

Similarly, the Electrical Attribute Schema was created as a complement to the PDD, offering additional product description information that is not essential for transactions but provides richer marketing content to distributors to help promote sales.

How are the PDD and the Schema related?

Manufacturers are required to assign a UNSPSC to their products in order to load them into IDW. This 8-digit code is what the Schema is based on and what links the attributes in the Schema with the transactional product-centric data in the PDD. Together, these two standards enable manufacturers to provide all of the product and pricing information necessary to conduct business efficiently with their trading partners.

If you have any questions regarding the meaning of the Product Descriptor Database, the Electrical Attribute Schema, or any other IDW terms, please contact your Data Management Specialist. Requests for future definitions can be sent to communications@idea4industry.com