Boosting content quality with Product Information Management

September 2, 2019by Rebecca Metcalf
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For companies with growing product portfolios, keeping track of product information can be a major headache. When you have content related to hundreds or even thousands of products spread across multiple systems and countless deliverables, it becomes all too easy for inconsistencies and mistakes to slip in.

This is where Product Information Management (PIM) systems come in. A PIM system acts as a single source of truth for all product-related information, helping businesses ensure that all of the data and content they publish is consistent and up-to-date.

Among the most valuable benefits of PIM systems – and perhaps the most compelling reason for adopting one – is that they can drive immense savings through content reuse. Modular content can be authored once and then redeployed in any context that requires the same information, and that also means it only needs to be translated once.

 

What is a PIM system?

PIM systems are essentially large databases for centrally storing, managing, and updating information at a product-specific level. A PIM system isn’t just for technical data, it contains all of the content associated with the product – including names, feature and benefit descriptions, product images, specifications, pricing, and more.

Other authoring and content management systems in your infrastructure can integrate directly with the PIM system and dynamically pull the most up-to-date information on-demand. This takes all the complexity out of managing product info. There’s no need to author or update the same thing multiple times, and there’s no risk of publishing inconsistent or inaccurate content. The latter is particularly valuable in industries such as manufacturing, where the accuracy of technical documentation goes hand in hand with user safety.

Last but not least, by enabling businesses to author and translate content just once (rather than multiple times across content types), PIM systems can lead to significant time and cost savings for global content strategies. Content authors can work far more efficiently since they don’t have to spend time tracking down or rewriting content. And for localization, the ability to reuse text that has already been translated can massively reduce the overall translation volume – which is the primary contributor to cost.

 

Creating content and authoring for a PIM system

To make the most of a PIM system, it’s crucial to bear reuse and localization in mind from the get-go when structuring and authoring content.

First and foremost, writers should always refer to the appropriate style guide and glossary. The PIM system is the golden source of information for your products, so it’s paramount that content structures, terminology, units of measurement, and tone are internally consistent. Following a style guide and glossary will make text easier to understand for consumers and translators, leading to a better end user experience and higher quality localization.

Secondly, to maximize reusability and reduce the potential for linguistic issues to occur when content is used in different contexts, we recommend authoring content in small, standalone components. These small chunks of content are easier to fit into different contexts than longer sentences or paragraphs. Bear in mind that whilst numeric content or measurements may be suitable to insert in flowing text, textual content is better suited to use as standalone fields. These considerations should be factored into the structure of PIM content and the authoring of all content that will use PIM data.

 

Example

Without the use of a PIM system, product features may be written as an independent statement. For example:

Bore Size from 8” to 16”

When using a PIM system, however, PIM fields should be structured to allow the statement to be broken down into smaller, reusable chunks. This maximizes reuse and ensures the data works in different contexts. The above statement could be broken down as:

English Content PIM field
Bore Size {Bore Size_name}
8″ {Bore Size_Min}
16″ {Bore Size_Max}

The new statement would then be created by combining fields and automatically pulling in the relevant data:

{Bore size_name}: {Bore size _Min} – {Bore size _Max}

Which would produce the following in English:

Bore size: 8” – 16”

The same data could also be used in different contexts. One example is in product specifications tables – PIM data that is re-useable and internationalized ensures time savings and the use of accurate information.

 

Choosing a PIM system

PIM systems are rapidly gaining popularity, and the number of solutions on the market is growing fast. The best option for your business will depend on your specific needs, but regardless of industry, we believe that there are two core features that you should always look for in a good PIM system:

  1. The ability to integrate with your authoring and content management systems. As explained above, this will eliminate the need to manually update product information in each system. Instead, they will all dynamically pull data from a single source of truth. Once you have a PIM system that integrates with existing processes and technologies, you can maximize ROI by ensuring that all your content teams are using it. PIM systems deliver the greatest value when they are used throughout the business as part of a holistic strategy.
  2. The ability to export and re-import content for translation. Exporting text in a structured, editable format (such as XML or XLIFF) will enable your LSP to work on your content using their preferred tools, leading to faster turnaround times and lower costs. Once translation is complete, it should be easy to import the new content into the PIM system.

 

Learn more

Whether you’re already facing challenges managing your product information, or whether you’re looking to take control before things get out of hand, adopting a PIM system can be an excellent way to reduce complexity, cut costs, and unlock new growth opportunities. Subscribe to the Rubric Blog to learn more about PIM systems and discover other ways to optimize your global content strategy. Our next article will dive into translating HMI Apps and hardware translation.

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Rebecca Metcalf

Rebecca Metcalf

Rebecca is a Global Content Business Analyst at Rubric. With a wealth of experience in the localization industry, Rebecca’s focus is on expert business analysis of clients' global content needs, content and data architecture, globalization strategy and working practices. Key to her role is understanding a client’s process, what success and value mean to them, and what outcomes are required for quality content and ROI. Focusing on outcomes rather than outputs, Rebecca partners with clients to design solutions and frameworks that deliver long-term globalization success.

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