The Challenges of Managing Product Data in Spreadsheets

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By: Manish Shewaramani

The Challenges of Managing Product Data in Spreadsheets & How PIM can Address them

Are you managing product data in spreadsheets?

If yes, then you might be dealing with a handful of products and a modest array of variations because spreadsheets look like a perfect solution for that.

Imagine a bigger scenario!

As your business expands, your product catalog expands too. It will reach hundreds or even thousands of data points. Then, the spreadsheet management that seemed efficient before turned into a daunting task.

Now, you might agree because you have experienced the spreadsheet struggle. If you are interested in exploring how you can address your spreadsheet challenges or looking for a solution that helps you get rid of the use of spreadsheets, you are at the right place.

Let’s unravel the challenges associated with managing product data in spreadsheets and unveil an automated solution that might just be the game-changer you’re looking for.

Pitfalls of Managing Product Data in Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are a highly popular and widely used platform in businesses as they are versatile and easy to set up. It provides a familiar grid-like interface where you can effortlessly perform tasks like summing, sorting, and filtering data.

For most small businesses, creating a spreadsheet to manage data is a no-brainer—it’s quick, simple, and appears to be an efficient solution at first glance.

The Pitfalls

It’s not as easy as it seems. Even if a spreadsheet seems affordable, the hidden costs can quickly pile up. It causes poor data management that impacts businesses significantly.

According to Gartner, poor data management costs organizations an average of $12.9 million a year.

This number varied based on your business size. However, the chances you are losing more than necessary by managing your product data in spreadsheets.

Managing product data in spreadsheets causes mistakes in product data, delays in updating information, and more challenges that result in a waste of time and money of your business resources.

Top 10 Challenges for Managing Product Data in Spreadsheets

Now, let’s explore the major problems that arise while considering spreadsheets for product data management. With this knowledge, you can either address these challenges or consider an alternative solution (which we’ll discuss later in this post).

Challenges for Managing Product Data in Spreadsheets

1. Scattered Data

Scattered data poses a formidable challenge in the realm of product information management.

In practical terms, scattered data refers to the fragmented storage of crucial product details across various spreadsheets, files, and documents. To access the complete, correct, and updated product data, you need to assemble all the information every time.

For instance, essential product descriptions may reside in one file, while pricing information is stored in another. Marketing and sales teams might maintain separate sets of files, contributing to the dispersion of vital data.

This scattered arrangement of data creates chaos across the organization, hindering the efficient retrieval and management of comprehensive product information. The result is a time-consuming process, where the search for accurate and consolidated data becomes necessary to navigate through disparate sources.

2. Inaccurate Data

Dealing with inaccurate data is a pervasive challenge that can significantly impact the effectiveness of product information management. In the context of managing product data in spreadsheets, inaccuracies act like a hidden threat, gradually eroding the foundation of business operations.

Inaccuracies can come from various sources, including manual entry errors, a lack of validation processes, reliance on outdated information, formula errors, and the presence of duplicate data.

Inaccurate data can compromise the robustness of business processes. It introduces uncertainties, undermines decision-making, and erodes the trustworthiness of the information relied upon for critical tasks.

Addressing the challenge of inaccurate data in spreadsheet-based management requires meticulous attention to detail and continuous vigilance. Implementing stringent validation checks, regular updates, and automated processes can help mitigate the risk of inaccuracies and ensure the reliability of product data.

3. Data Sharing Becomes Complex & Time-consuming

Navigating the challenge of complex and time-consuming data sharing is a critical aspect of managing product data in spreadsheets.

As businesses grow, the need for seamless collaboration and data sharing becomes increasingly vital. However, spreadsheets are not the right platform for these purposes.

In the context of product data management, sharing crucial information across departments or with external partners can become a cumbersome process.

Unlike a centralized system, spreadsheets lack the inherent structure and accessibility needed for efficient data sharing. This leads to challenges such as version control issues, difficulty in tracking changes, and delays in obtaining the most up-to-date information.

Example;

Consider the scenario of multiple teams working on different aspects of a product—marketing, sales, and logistics. Each team may require specific data sets, and coordinating these requirements through spreadsheets often results in a tangled web of files, making collaboration challenging.

Moreover, as data evolves and undergoes modifications, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest version becomes a logistical headache. The risk of errors and miscommunication amplifies, potentially impacting critical business decisions.

4. Inefficient sharing of product data on multiple sales channels

Tackling the challenge of inefficiently sharing product data across multiple sales channels is a common pain point when relying on spreadsheets for data management.

As businesses expand their reach through various sales platforms, ensuring consistent and accurate product information becomes paramount. However, spreadsheets often prove to be inefficient in handling the complexities of managing data across diverse channels.

Example;

Consider a scenario where a company sells its products on an e-commerce website, a mobile app, and through third-party retailers. Each of these sales channels may have distinct requirements regarding product details, specifications, and formatting. Managing this diversity in a spreadsheet-based system can lead to inefficiencies, resulting in errors, inconsistencies, and delays in updating information.

The lack of synchronization across multiple sales channels poses a significant hurdle. Maintaining separate spreadsheets for each channel can lead to version control issues, making it challenging to track changes and update product data uniformly.

Inefficient sharing may result in disparities between the product information presented on different platforms, potentially leading to customer confusion and lost sales opportunities.

5. Version Control

Dealing with version control in spreadsheets can be a major headache. In a bustling business atmosphere where various team members constantly update data, it’s all too easy to find yourself wrestling with conflicting versions of the same spreadsheet.

The aftermath involves the arduous task of merging documents, resolving discrepancies, and deciding which changes take precedence. Every minute spent on this process is a minute diverted from the core business.

To tackle this issue, you’re forced to implement rigorous processes, hoping that your versions stay unraveled. This demands careful file organization and a team committed to maintaining order. Unfortunately, it often becomes a delicate balancing act that can impede your business’s overall productivity.

Are you facing difficulty in managing the product data along with its version history? Credencys builds a PIM solution that helps you track each version of product data updates. – Let’s talk

6. Data Security Issue

Insufficient data security poses a perilous path to pervasive errors in product information management.

Shielding product information becomes paramount, especially when disseminating it to diverse external entities. In scenarios where multiple users access the same spreadsheet, the risk of exposing highly sensitive data, such as pricing, to unauthorized eyes becomes significant. While spreadsheets do offer certain product data security features, they have limitations.

When dealing with product information, security must extend to the granular level, down to each attribute. This detailed security becomes invaluable when certain attributes need to be concealed from external users.

Take pricing, a common security challenge; it may vary across retail partners, marketplaces, or channels. Sending a single spreadsheet with prices across all channels to various sales representatives risks revealing varying prices, potentially undermining long-term retail partnerships.

Spreadsheet’s workaround involves creating separate spreadsheets for each retail partner, consumer, or channel, a cumbersome and time-consuming process that compromises efficiency.

For eCommerce businesses, prioritizing security is imperative. Spreadsheets, often the culprit behind unintentional data leaks, lack the specialization required for multichannel and omnichannel distribution.

7. Scalability

Spreadsheets come with their limitations, especially when your data starts to grow. Beyond a certain point, whether it’s the number of rows, columns, or tabs, you’ll begin to notice a decline in performance.

Here are the common challenges that emerge as your data expands:

File Size Limitation

With an increasing number of products, your spreadsheet files can transform into large and un sizes, hampering performance and leading to potential crashes.

Increased Complexity

More products translate to more fields, records, and tabs, elevating the spreadsheet’s complexity. This makes data management more challenging.

Manual Updating

Spreadsheets require the manual effort required to update product information across various channels and partners. This not only consumes more time but also strains resources.

Search and Filtering Issues

Spreadsheets aren’t optimized for advanced search and filtering, a functionality that becomes crucial as your data volume expands.

To address these challenges effectively, transitioning to software designed to handle larger datasets with features tailored to your needs is the key. Keep reading to discover a solution that could be a game-changer for you.

8. Smooth & Real-time Collaboration is not Possible

Traditional spreadsheet programs typically lack robust support for concurrent collaboration among multiple users.

While some advanced cloud-based iterations do offer real-time collaboration features, they often carry inherent limitations. Platforms like Google Sheets impose user restrictions, necessitating meticulous management of spreadsheet permissions for each document.

Ensuring the correct individuals are working on designated tasks requires ongoing attention. Despite well-organized team structures, conflicting versions frequently emerge, resulting in wasted time devoted to reconciling changes.

The error-prone nature of spreadsheets intensifies when collaborating with external retail partners outside the organization.

In essence, the collaborative functionality of standard spreadsheet programs tends to be inadequate, leading to inefficiencies and increased risks of errors, especially when extending collaboration beyond internal teams.

9. Spreadsheets do not Manage Digital Assets

From your thumbnail images and photo packs to your documentation and PDFs, a multitude of digital assets accompany your products. The limitations of spreadsheets make it impractical to integrate these digital assets seamlessly.

Consequently, you’re compelled to manage digital assets independently, introducing an additional layer of complexity.

Navigating through version controls and organizing digital media becomes a distinct challenge within the spreadsheet paradigm. Establishing a coherent system that caters to the diverse needs of your sales team, e-commerce managers, and marketers becomes imperative.

Providing access to these files across different teams is essential for streamlined workflows and efficient task completion.

10. Prone to Data Corruption

Spreadsheets are highly susceptible to data corruption, mainly occurring during file transfers, especially when emailing, messaging, or converting spreadsheets into other document types.

When a spreadsheet containing product data gets corrupted, it becomes unreadable, and users may lose valuable information during transport or overwriting. Without a backup, retrieving the file can be challenging, often requiring complex technical solutions dependent on the software involved.

The Serious Impact of Data Corruption

Data corruption poses significant challenges for businesses, leading to wasted time in re-gathering and reorganizing lost product data. The consequences extend to resource drain and reduced productivity, causing setbacks in project timelines.

Unlike spreadsheets, utilizing a dedicated product information database with cloud storage eliminates the risk of data corruption. Platforms like Product Information Management (PIM) ensure secure cloud-based data storage, offering robust backup options and version history to prevent data loss.

Are you struggling with challenges like data corruption? Credencys would love to help you by developing a tailored Product Information Management solution. – Consult Credencys

PIM: A Comprehensive Solution to Address Your Spreadsheet Challenges

After navigating through the significant challenges of managing product data in spreadsheets, ranging from scattered information to intricate collaborations with retail partners, let’s explore how a Product Information Management (PIM) system stands as a remedy for these concerns, addressing each issue systematically.

How PIM Addresses Your Spreadsheet Challenges

Dealing with Scattered and Inaccurate Data

PIM systems serve as a centralized repository for all your product data, eliminating the need to jump between files. With PIM, you gain a single source of truth, ensuring data consistency and accuracy across the board.

Streamlining Data Sharing with Retail Partners

Bid farewell to manual exports and conversion hassles. PIM systems empower you to tailor data exports to meet the specific requirements of each retail partner, automating a process that used to be complex and time-consuming.

Efficient Multichannel Distribution

PIM’s standout feature lies in its seamless ability to dispatch data to multiple sales channels with just a few clicks. Say goodbye to the laborious task of manually updating each channel individually.

Resolving Version Control Issues

With real-time updates and robust versioning capabilities, PIM systems ensure that everyone works with the latest data set. No more concerns about outdated or conflicting versions.

Scalability for Growing Needs

As your product range expands, a PIM system grows alongside you. Unlike spreadsheets, which become unwieldy with growth, PIM systems effortlessly handle increased data complexity.

Enabling Real-time Collaboration

PIM systems offer multi-user environments with customizable permission settings, making real-time collaboration not only possible but also efficient and secure.

Keeping Products with Their Digital Assets

Storing images, videos, and other digital assets becomes effortless with PIM. These systems often include integrated Digital Asset Management (DAM) features, simplifying the association of assets with specific products or variants.

Credencys can help you develop a powerful Product Information Management solution that streamlines your varied data management processes by automating them. – Contact a PIM expert

Unlock Credencys’ Product Information Management Excellence

Unlock Credencys’ Product Information Management Excellence is a game-changer in the dynamic world of business, offering a centralized hub to effortlessly manage and optimize product data.

With an intuitive user interface, real-time collaboration features, and multi-channel publishing capabilities, this solution ensures streamlined workflows, data accuracy, and efficient cross-functional communication.

Credencys’ PIM Excellence not only integrates seamlessly with existing systems but also scales with your business, providing a flexible and customizable approach to product information management.

Experience the benefits of time savings, increased accuracy, and accelerated time-to-market, ultimately boosting sales and customer satisfaction. Elevate your data management strategy and unlock the full potential of your product information with Credencys. Let’s connect to discuss your challenges.

Say goodbye to data chaos and embrace the power of PIM/MDM to supercharge your business growth!