Seven Roadblocks to Global Data Synchronization

Study reveals pitfalls and problems most likely to slow down GDS projects


Study reveals pitfalls and problems most likely to slow down GDS projects

Mountain View, CA — October 28, 2003 — Global Data Synchronization (GDS) projects are put at risk by seven factors, according to findings by product information software provider Velosel Corp. The company added that the industry-wide drive between manufacturers and retailers to streamline product information could be derailed if these challenges are not addressed.

By analyzing feedback gathered from over 50 Global 1000 manufacturers and retailers over the past two months, Velosel said it has identified the most common mistakes made in Global Data Synchronization projects. It found most projects that fall short of expectations or fail to meet deadlines do so because the scope or impact of GDS has been underestimated from the outset.

"Achieving complete Global Data Synchronization is not a simple task. Execution on this front requires that companies be aware as early as possible of the scope of opportunities and challenges that may lie ahead," said Kent Allen, research director at Aberdeen Group. "Firms that lack an organization-wide, business process-centric approach to Global Data Synchronization projects will find that these initiatives devolve into an exercise in redundant, cross-divisional frustration."

According to the study, the common pitfalls are:

Lack of a senior sponsor: The main reason for a GDS project to fail is if it lacks a high-level sponsor within the organization. If GDS is treated as a technical initiative alone, the broader business implications will not be considered and the potential benefits will not be realized. For manufacturers, Velosel said GDS could help differentiate the company by making it easier for retailers to buy from them. For retailers, where efficiency is an integral part of profitability, GDS offers the potential to streamline the supply chain and internal operations still further. Unless the project encompasses these implications, it will simply provide a technical solution to a technical problem, rather than a paradigm shift in supply chain efficiency.

Ignoring the customer interaction implications: At its full extent, GDS becomes the platform for interaction between manufacturers and retailers by providing a unified "language" for them to trade efficiently. If it is viewed simply as a data project, ignoring the potential for a closer working relationship, the project will fail since GDS fundamentally changes the way retailers and suppliers interact. It's important that customer-facing teams are involved in GDS in order to take full advantage, and to ensure interactions are clearly understood.

Seeing synchronization as a one-time project: Manufacturers and retailers can view GDS as a one-off project rather than an ongoing program. Uploading data into trading hubs or product registries does not constitute the completion of a GDS project. New products are constantly introduced, updated or discontinued, authorized product lists are revised, customer requirements evolve, and standards change, meaning GDS should be a scalable and repeatable process to be successful.

Underestimating the time required to create and maintain accurate product information: The product information for a GDS project is rarely stored in one place and requires an extensive collation exercise to create a central product information repository. Much of the data needed must be drawn from a variety of departments across the enterprise, such as research, manufacturing and logistics. Once collated and centralized, the information needs to be interrogated for accuracy and frequently enhanced to provide additional information which may not have been required to date, such as package dimensions, storage temperatures etc. A common pitfall is that organizations embarking on GDS underestimate the stringency of these product information requirements or the time required to fulfill them correctly.

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