WMH Tool Group
Case Study: WMH Tool Group
Solution: QAD PIM
Industry: Designs and Manufacturing of woodworking and metalworking tools.
About The Company
From bench lathes to band saws, WMH Tool Group designs and manufactures woodworking and metalworking tools for the hobbyist to the professional. With over 10,000 unique SKUs, 50 to 150 unique data attributes for each product and 20 percent product churn per year, the company has enormous amounts of information to track, update and synchronize.
After realizing it had separate data silos including an ERP system, print catalog, Web site and global data synchronization requirements, WMH came to the conclusion that it needed a software package to help manage its product information in one central location. The company surveyed the Product Information Management (PIM) software landscape and ultimately chose QAD Product Information Management. Within six months of kicking off the project internally, QAD and WMH Tool Group had implemented a PIM system to rationalize the company’s data. WMH has been able to free employees to focus on more important core tasks than on mundane data cleaning and entry. It has implemented QAD PIM across four groups that enables instant cascading updates to data, not only for single products but for whole families. The company has also improved the accuracy of data in its catalog system more accurate and introduced a data review policy.
Different groups in the company had different goals for product data, but every group needed rigorous consistency.
IT & Operations – responsible for populating the external Web sites and catalog systems with product data; the originators and drivers of the Product Information Management project.
Engineering – handles new product development, introduction and updates; responsible for providing a lot of the product data.
Product Management – responsible for product planning, i.e. what to introduce, change or delete; responsible for the highest level of product data, plus the marketing and merchandizing attributes required for selling.
Customer Service – handles customer inquiries about products; require accurate data to guide customers who don’t know product ID numbers in making the right buying decisions.
Sheri Stewart, WMH Sales and Systems Support Director, describes the situation she faced when she began the project, “We had our SAP data management, our catalog system, our Web site and we were also faced with the challenge of implementing the Global Data Sync (GDSN) requirements from our retailers. We had all these separate silos of data to manage. Also, our 12 person product team was struggling to manage the individual attributes of 10,000 SKUs. We were discovering data synchronization and accuracy problem issues between our catalogs and our Web sites. We needed to take charge of it.” Stewart continues, “The merits of the project were based on how we could better interface with our customers. Also, everyone has so much to do these days that it wasn’t hard to show that doing data maintenance in four separate silos is not really adding value in the work day. If it could be done once and then everything updates, it reduces redundancy. For example, one of the QAD PIM features is the ability to multiple edit, because a lot of our products are just generations of another product. So the mass editing of one product is a huge benefit to us. We don’t have to touch ten separate products, we only have to touch one product and change it for all ten of them.”
After gathering information about PIM and the available solutions, and after getting management buy-in, Stewart and her team, including Rich Dase, WMH Director of IT, began talking to vendors. It became clear that QAD had the right tools for the job. Says Stewart, “We were looking for an extensible solution that we could maintain and update easily in-house, that was reasonably priced and would be easy to implement. Out of the three vendors we looked at, QAD had all that. The fact that QAD was able to immediately integrate a subset of our data into the program to demonstrate how it works at the start of the sales cycle was an excellent start because it showed us just how QAD PIM worked and how easy it was to use. QAD also provided excellent support and training when we needed it; training that wasn’t just focused on how to use the tool, but was designed to ensure that we would understand and know the concepts behind PIM, so we were able to design our own PIM solution using the QAD tools.”
Results & Benefits
The first phase of the QAD PIM project was completed in six months, on time and on budget. QAD PIM is now the central product data repository that feeds the SAP system and the catalog systems. The Web site will also be fed by QAD PIM when a site redesign is complete. It has also been beneficial in understanding and tracking the data flow. The product is soon to be rolled out to manage all 10,000 replacement parts for their existing product lines. Stewart explains, “QAD PIM is supporting our A-Items initiatives. We’re using it to flag all of our A-Items – the 1,000 or so top-selling products – so that when the product managers review these items, they put a flag in QAD PIM that tell us that it has been reviewed and updated. We’ve also created new fields of information that we need them to collect. We’ve shifted the focus away from trying to maintain 10,000 SKUs at the highest level towards a closer focus on the 1,000 A-items, except now we’re giving them the tools that enable them to do multiple changes across a product family. And we can get the metrics on what is changing and being reviewed.”
According to Stewart, “The value of QAD PIM is obvious to our customers, business users and senior managers who believe we are achieving a competitive advantage with our improved service to large retailers in data synchronization efforts and to the improvements evident in providing up to date information to our Web and print catalogs and to customer service. With 10,000 products, we have consistent population of all global attributes across our product lines. We have 100 percent population of product-line-specific attributes for all of our A-Items. We are achieving significantly improved time to market for new and changed products and are achieving higher customer satisfaction by removing our deleted items from our print and online catalogs and customer service systems."
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