Optimizing product information management to advance supply chain performance

by | May 2, 2024

By Christine Blaber, JSI

Having access to accurate and complete health product data is essential to critical business processes at the heart of the supply chain. Product data is used by supply chain stakeholders to confirm, for example, product quality, suitability, and safety, and it also informs procurement decisions and logistics planning. 

As a nonprofit procurement agent and 4PL service provider responsible to donors and governments for supply chain management and logistics, the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) has a duty to furnish precise product data to the right people at the right time and place across the supply chain. 

As part of its ongoing digital transformation, PFSCM implemented a product information management (PIM) tool to maintain product master data efficiently. The tool connects to a GS1-certified data pool, pulling data directly from suppliers who are part of the pool and incorporating it into PFSCM’s system. 

PFSCM IT Director Perry van Dam, explains that the PIM tool is a modern and well-integrated system that provides the foundation for quality product data across platforms. 

He notes that in just a short period of time, the benefits of implementing the PIM tool has been significant. 

“We are now able to easily publish product data directly to internal systems and external catalogs to rapidly respond to our clients’ needs and the ever-changing global health landscape.”

Further, van Dam adds that the process of implementing the new system was challenging but rewarding and entailed cleaning and migrating data on all 4,700 health products in PFSCM’s ERP to the PIM tool. 

“We leveraged this opportunity to carry out an extensive data cleanup, a valuable exercise whenever it occurs. As a result, we are experiencing significant reductions in the time needed for key working processes like creating data on new products and maintaining accurate data for existing items.”   

Adopting a PIM tool is one example of PFSCM’s continuing digital transformation efforts to improve supply chain visibility and streamline stakeholder collaboration. PFSCM’s digital transformation focuses on digitizing and automating key processes to improve end-to-end visibility, facilitate data-driven decisions, and ensure the best long-term outcomes for our clients. 

In addition to enhancing its management of health product master data, PFSCM has become a member of the Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN), a worldwide network of interoperable certified master data pools connected by the GS1 Global Registry. GDSN’s members include numerous manufacturers, distributors, GPOs, operators, and healthcare providers. 

Through GDSN, high-quality product content is uploaded, maintained, and shared automatically, increasing transparency and helping to ensure that key parties have immediate access to the most accurate, complete information for use in local and global markets. 

Van Dam explains that participation in GDSN makes business processes easier and more efficient, improves traceability across the healthcare supply chain, and increases cost efficiency by reducing incorrect data related to product attributes such as weight and dimensions.  

“PFSCM is pleased to be part of this digital community that further enables us to drive health supply chain excellence and transparency through efficient, standardized health product information sharing.”

By leveraging key tools like the PIM system and enhancing partnerships through collaborative initiatives like GDSN, PFSCM is providing faster, smarter customer service and is helping to create the foundation for future digital supply chain innovations, concludes van Dam.