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The Great Debate: Internal vs. External Data Cleansing

Before we discuss the pros and cons of an internal vs. external project approach, let us first applaud you and your organization on recognizing the need for data cleansing. Regardless of which direction you go from here, at the very least you’ve taken the first step to improve data quality and achieve maintenance and procurement savings.

Now that you’ve made the decision to pursue a data cleansing initiative, you might be debating whether to perform the work internally or outsource it to an external service provider. As a strategic sourcing or procurement professional within a business, your responsibility is to identify and compare the various options and vendors, ultimately in order to select the best suited solution for your company. With data cleansing, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration when evaluating the options such as: cost, timeline, scope of work, technical requirements, resource requirements, methodology, and tools.

From an initial perspective, internal data cleansing may appear as the most effective approach. In theory, your own resources should know your business and its data better than anyone, right? Not so fast. Your resources may be considered experts in their field, be it maintenance, procurement, supply chain, or asset management, but how much data cleansing experience do they possess and what tools do they have at their disposal? Will you pull them away from their regular role for the cleansing project, leaving their current workload to be spread across other employees? Will you hire new resources on a contract basis until the project is complete? Or will you create a new department, adding permanent resources and further increasing labor costs? Once you have the resource situation figured out, will you be forced to purchase an expensive data cleansing software package? Will your cleansing resources be able to get the job done within the desired timeframe? And how will they maintain the data moving forward? These are just a few of the questions you may want to ask yourself and your team before taking the plunge into an internal data cleansing project. From a cost and timeline perspective, internal cleansing isn’t actually as economical as you may think either. Below are some average industry statistics that we’ve compiled to illustrate the cost and time requirement for a basic 25,000 SKU material master data cleansing project.

Example: 25,000 SKU Project

Average Time Spent Per Part (SKU) 10-15 Minutes

Average Hourly Burden Rate $30-40

Hourly Cleansing Capacity 6 SKUs

Daily Cleansing Capacity 48 SKUs

Weekly Cleansing Capacity 240 SKUs

Total Minutes Required 500,000 Minutes

Total Hours Required 8334 Hours

Man Weeks Required 208 Weeks

Man Years Required 4 Years (Or 4 people for 1 year)

Total Internal Cost $250,020

Average Per SKU Cost $10

Based on industry statistics, project experience, and feedback from customers who have previously gone this route, internal data cleansing costs (on average) 50-65% more than outsourcing to an external service provider and can take up to 80% longer depending on the number of allocated resources, competence, and technology. Not to mention, the quality of cleansing significantly varies and often fails to meet expectations.

You’re probably wondering how this can be true as these numbers seem astronomical. You’re right, they do. However, you must remember that data cleansing service providers specialize in their field for a reason, just like doctors specialize in medicine and lawyers specialize in law. IMA Ltd. and other service providers possess the experience, expertise, technology, and resources, which enable us to excel within the field of material master data cleansing. Not only do we utilize proprietary software that allows us to programmatically cleanse and maintain mass datasets within a short period of time, we also possess valuable subject matter expertise when it comes to implementing best practice data standards, formatting data to enterprise system configuration requirements, and performing critical quality control review tasks. In addition, most service providers have a growing internal library (catalog) of MRO and OEM spare parts that they frequently reference to enhance and validate materials data.

Without the support of cleansing software, reference databases, and capable resources, the cleansing process can be incredibly laborious and time consuming. Each cleansing task must be performed manually, including consistently standardizing manufacturer names, part numbers, naming convention, and descriptions, while individually researching each item online or within manufacturer catalogs to validate and gather additional attribute information. And don’t forget duplicate identification, which is often a project of its own. Then, the data must be properly formatted to the enterprise system, which is a complex task that often requires IT support.

While it certainly it not impossible to perform a data cleansing project internally, it may be more costly and time-consuming than you had anticipated.

Read more about IMA Ltd. Data Cleansing services and take advantage of our no cost, no obligation Data Evaluation, which may assist you in deciding which direction to take by providing actual cleansing samples and a detailed ROI projection.

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MRO Data Evaluation

No Cost, No Obligation

Submit a data sample today to learn the current condition of your Material Master and discover the potential cost savings hidden within. Receive actual before & after samples of your own data, cleansed and structured to industry best-practice standards and formatted to your enterprise system.

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