In the interview, Simone Harrer, Product Manager for Ladders and Steps at Zarges, talks about agile and media-neutral data management and how Viamedici prepared the company for the introduction of the new Product Information Management with training sessions.
Safety, durability and ergonomics are essential in light metal construction. On the global market, Zarges sets standards and serves both the consumer and the commercial sector with innovative products in the fields of access, packaging, transportation and special construction. With such a wide range of different products and solutions, comprehensive product data management is particularly useful in order to provide customers, partners and employees with all the information necessary at all times. We talked to Zarges product manager Simone Harrer about the challenge of finding a suitable PIM solution and how to implement such a project successfully.
How did you notice the need for new solutions in your company and how did you proceed in your search for suitable technologies?
As the support for the previous PIM system was discontinued, we started looking for a new solution. First, we had to define requirements for the new system which should be able to efficiently manage the data concerning our wide range of products. After we had compiled these requirements in a specification, we researched potential PIM solutions through various channels. In addition to numerous studies and analyses, the Market Performance Wheels of The Group of Analysts AG provided us a very good orientation in our search for potential providers. After detailed presentations of the software solutions, we were able to further reduce the number of providers. When there were only five vendors left in the race, we created use cases to check the feasibility of our requirements. In the end, we selected Viamedici, worked with them to review the system requirements, and then customized the solution until it met our needs.
Why did you choose a Viamedici solution?
For one, Viamedici can draw on years of experience and moreover, their EPIM best met our requirements. EPIM is a very comprehensive solution and supports our data management with multi-language functionality, terminology and text management as well as ease of use. EPIM also convinced us when it came to cross-media publishing, and so we opted for Viamedici in the end.
How can we imagine the cooperation on this project?
At the beginning there was a workshop lasting several days with both representatives of Viamedici and Zarges employees. They discussed general conditions such as the program architecture, relevant interfaces and data structure. To this end, we first broke down the entire project into sections. For each sub-project, there was a more detailed workshop, during which we were shown and taught the respective functions, so that we built up important internal know-how right from the start. This enabled us to carry out crucial tasks such as data maintenance, internally which led to more efficient work processes. The entire cooperation was characterized by regular meetings during which the current status and further steps were coordinated.
Which factors were important to you for implementing the project?
It was particularly important for us to build up know- how for the solution internally, so that someone in-house could help with possible problems or questions. Throughout the entire project, we made sure that we always kept an eye on the big picture and not to lose sight of the requirements. Here an important focus was to not only define and structure the system using a single export channel, but to serve several channels as well.
What is new and what are the advantages of media-neutral databases in general? What has improved for you?
A major advantage of media-neutral databases is the central data storage and output option via different channels. In addition, the translations of content are saved in the system so that our translation costs have decreased continuously. Basically, our entire data management has improved, from storage of various assets to exporting data to various output media.
Which benefits can be observed in your own company and how was media-neutral data management implemented?
Our data management is much more agile and information retrieval has become much faster. A big advantage is that adapted or new product data are automatically updated on-line. This is saving us a lot of time and in general it is a great advantage for us that the PIM is the central location for product data maintained by the product management. This also reduces the error rate and the entire data management is less complex, of course.
How easy is it to learn to work the system?
EPIM has the great advantage that it is very easy and comfortable to use so that users accepted it very quickly. Naturally, this leads to just a short training period that then allows to better focus on actual data maintenance.
How does Viamedici support you in this?
The division of the overall project into several sub-projects allowed for a very structured and detailed introduction to the system. Workshops and training before and during the implementation of the single sub-projects were very helpful in working the system consistently and error-free right from the start and while building up internal know-how.
After successfully replacing the PIM system with a media-neutral database: which other steps will Zarges take with regard to digitalization?
The media-neutral product database we have implemented now makes it relatively easy for us to open new channels and to offer product data to specific target groups. In future, we will offer a self-service in order to make more product data such as images, technical data sheets or machine-readable product catalogues available to our customers and partners, and we will also be able to use these in various ways and more easily for our own purposes.
About Simone Harrer
Simone Harrer has already been working at Zarges for 13 years and has been product manager for ladders and steps since 2015. She introduced the EPIM system in Weilheim, and since then has been responsible for the expansion and further development of the system.