One question that often comes up in considering investment in a PIM system is whether to choose an off-the-shelf or a custom solution. However, the choice is not always as clear-cut as it is made out to be.
For good reasons, most people go the off-the-shelf route as it offers a number of advantages – not least in relation to the price – but usually they end up adapting the system to some degree.
Nonetheless, there are good reasons to pull the solution as far as possible in the standard direction. Implementation and maintenance costs will increase relative to the degree of customization.
PIM is like building a house
One might compare PIM to building a house. You will most often start out with a standard house from a builder’s blueprints, and build that type of house completely according to the plans. That is the cheapest option, but then you have to live with the house as it is. If you decide that you need a tower room to sleep in, it will have to be built on top of standard house and will cost extra.
Thus, your bedroom requirement will come to determine the house’s price. If you can change your sleeping habits and get your beauty sleep without a tower room, you will get away more cheaply than if the tradesmen have to build something extra.
You must also consider that a tower room will mean putting up scaffolding every time you wash the windows, thus increasing your operating costs.
A standard solution ensures automatic updating
When it is a matter of a PIM and not a house, special adaptations will complicate functions such as bug fixes and upgrades. While bug fixes will be rolled out automatically to all customers on the standard side of a system, you will have to pay for fixes in the customized elements yourself.
While standard solution upgrades are automatic, customization often means that the system cannot be upgraded right away, as the special solution will have to be changed instead.
Finding the balance
At the end of the day, of course, the PIM system must support the specific processes that are actually needed for your particular business. It is basically a matter of finding the balance between meeting your specific needs and buying the simplest possible system, so be sure to select a standard solution dynamic enough to handle the necessary adjustments and support them during subsequent PIM system upgrades.
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Off-the-shelf or custom solution? This is just one of the things you have to consider when looking for the best way to manage your product data.
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By Dick Brunebjerg. Founder & CTO - September 2016