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Is Internal Catalog Management Really More Cost Effective?

Following any data cleansing project, the challenge becomes maintaining ongoing integrity and

consistency of the item master as new records are created and existing ones are modified. There are several strategies and solutions available for catalog management, yet the most common question companies ask themselves is, “Should we manage the catalog internally or outsource?” At first, it may seem more cost effective and realistic to manage the catalog internally, however, there are many factors that need to be considered to truly determine, “is internal catalog management really more cost effective?”

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of internal catalog management versus outsourcing.

First of all, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, manufacturing companies specialize in producing finished goods, not in data cleansing. This statement is not intended to be an insult to manufacturing companies; it is simply a fact, just like a data cleansing company does not specialize in manufacturing finished goods. For this reason, internal catalog management can often yield poor results and ultimately end up costing companies more money in the long run.

But how, data cleansing seems so straightforward right? In some ways yes, but if that were truly the case then why would any company need to cleanse their data in the first place? If data cleansing were so easy then every manufacturing company would have perfectly standardized and formatted data, yet this is absolutely not the case.

When left up to internal resources with limited part knowledge and cleansing expertise, the naming convention, contents, and format of item descriptions are at the mercy of user interpretation. In addition, manufacturing companies do not have access to the automated cleansing tools that a service provider would; therefore the entire process requires manual sorting, researching, validation, and formatting. As you can imagine, this can be extremely laborious and potentially generate inconsistency and inaccurate information. Without the proper tools to enable accuracy, consistency, and efficiency, maintaining the catalog internally suddenly became a much more costly and time-consuming task.

To capture the best of both worlds, here’s a suggestion… First select a third-party service provider, preferably the company that completed the original data cleansing project, to assume the daily catalog management activities. Next, since every company wants ownership of their data, establish an internal data governance team, which will act as the gatekeeper to review and approve all cleansed data and catalog updates before they are entered into the live ERP system. Using this methodology, you should only be paying for the catalog updates that are actually processed, and can rest assured that each item meets the pre-defined project standards, is rich with validated attribute enhancements, and is consistent amongst product groups. By doing so, you will ultimately reduce internal cost and effort, while maximizing data quality and return on investment.

So as you plan your next data cleansing and catalog management project, be sure to consider all your options. Are you looking to manage the catalog internally, purchase an automated software package, or contract a third-party service provider? Do you have adequate internal resources that can be allocated to the catalog management role? Do these resources have sufficient part knowledge and cleansing expertise? Do you have access to the necessary tools and software applications to capture required information and properly format descriptions? Remember time is money and…well, poor results are just wasted money.

For more information on data cleansing and catalog management services, please visit or contact

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