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Out-sourcing MRO Catalog Management

Posted on August 4, 2022 by Thomas Lester

Out-sourcing your Catalog Management is a huge step for any organization. It sounds great in concept, but the implementation isn't always clear. What exactly can you expect from the service provider? How does it really work? . . .and most importantly: Is it the right thing to do?

Often the choice to out-source your Catalog Management function can prove to be more advantageous than you had ever imagined. Not only is your data integrity maintained, but some additional unexpected side benefits may also be realized.

Catalog Management companies have dedicated staff that are constantly working together with parts data and manufacturers' catalogs all of the time. Many are former tradespeople with the experience to also know part applications. To put it differently, they are knowledgeable experts in stock parts. And when you out-source, they start to work for you. Not too many organizations can boast that they man their Catalog team with such experience.

Complementing this are software tools that have been designed to allow the cataloguers to operate quickly and economically. These tools ensure consistency in layout, construction, and nomenclature. Pre-defined part templates offer the cataloguers with attribute lists from which to choose the appropriate choice. Links to electronic versions of manufacturers' catalogs allow easy retrieval of additional information to enhance item descriptions.

Naturally, the cataloguers should not operate in isolation. By way of example, attribute order ought to be dictated by you, based on your maintenance employees' needs. In fact, at the onset of the transition, all of your company requirements should be discussed and recorded for use by the external Catalog team.

And because this team will work as an extension of your organization, it's important that you are able to easily work together, and that you build a great rapport together. After all, this team is dedicated to you and your Catalog requirements.

Delivery or turnaround time is also a reliable, guaranteed feature from Catalog Management suppliers. An expectation of one or two days is quite reasonable. However, companies repeatedly find that although the guarantee falls within that threshold, the actual response times are far better. Speedy turnaround times of less than 5 hours can be very dependable. This is usually viewed as significant advancement over internal turnaround times. . .especially for centralized catalog groups.

Another unexpected benefit of out-sourcing Catalog Management activities is fostering the use of product lines. That is, increasing quantity purchases of the present product lines. By way of example, whenever someone attempts to add an item that is the equivalent of an existing item, the Catalog Management supplier will often point the customer back to the present item. This way, they avoid entering duplicates into the database.

The most obvious advantage of out-sourcing is frequently cost savings. Catalog Management suppliers specialize in this service. They are experts and are more efficient at providing the service than you could ever be. It is what they do and they can price the service lower than what it costs a company to manage the function internally.

That being said, if you out-source, you should still expect to have pricing alternatives available to you. Services can be provided at a monthly flat fee for a maximum threshold of activity to the catalog. Alternatively, you may be offered a per sku (stock keeping unit) price, which charges you for the services you have used.

Opting to out-source inventory Catalog Management services can be the source of unexpected advantages. Savings reveal themselves in many quantities of ways, from avoiding duplicates, improving turnaround times, and reducing overall service costs to boosting internal usage of current product lines. Added to that, the out-sourced supplier works as an extension of your organization and enhances your parts knowledge database beyond what your company could achieve by itself.