Faber-Castell has been the world’s best known manufacturer of precision writing instruments for centuries. Today, the company produces thousands of products, with thousands more in the archive, and more in development for tomorrow. The company relies on best-of-breed enterprise resource planning, digital asset management and web content management systems to take product data from the drawing board to the market.
The Product Information Workflow
“We’ve been very happy with our connected product management systems because of the possibilities they afford us working together,” explained Jürgen Wersig, member of the Faber-Castell project team.
Product information management at Faber-Castell involves three primary business systems: SAP, Picturepark and Sitecore.
SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
SAP has served as the company’s database of record for product information since 1997. It is here that product managers and others access the data that is used to specify, build, manage and sell the company’s products.
Other systems that rely on this data get it from SAP, directly. This master data management (MDM) approach helps ensure the integrity of Faber-Castell product data because it eliminates the need to enter the same data into more than one system, which reduces the likelihood of data errors or omissions.
Picturepark Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Picturepark serves as the company’s master digital management system for images, video and other rich media content. What SAP does for users and business systems that need access to the company’s textual product information, Picturepark does for those that need access to rich content.
In addition to being the source of images and video used on the company’s website, Picturepark is used as a global media portal and archive of content for discontinued products. Content for future products is stored in Picturepark under embargoes that ensure the content is not made available before the time is right.
Sitecore Web Content Management (WCM)
Powering the Faber-Castell online catalog is Sitecore. The catalog is built upon templates that make it easy for website editors to create the pages they need. Sitecore pulls images directly from Picturepark. Each night, Sitecore connects to Picturepark to see what’s new or what has changed, so editors always have access to the most recent visual content for each product.
“Sitecore editors have nearly nothing to do!” said Wersig, crediting the structure provided by the Sitecore templates and Picturepark conversion presets, which provide images in sizes and formats configured to perfectly suit the Sitecore templates.
In 2000, Faber-Castell built an image management system the company used until it adopted Picturepark. According to Wersig, the system offered basic search functionality, but supported only images.
“It was a good system for the year 2000, but not for today,” he said.
A significant limitation of the system for a company with such a rich history was that it couldn’t archive content that was no longer current. Images were deleted forever, according to Wersig, simply because there was no way to keep them without making them available to employees and partners who might use them erroneously.
Not surprisingly, the company today makes good use of the archiving capabilities in Picturepark. Though it is unlikely that tomorrow’s Faber-Castell products will be able to use today’s product images, the company understands that content is a part of its rich history.
The Faber-Castell Media Center is a self-service brand portal that is available from anywhere. Faceted and keyword-based search enable permitted trade partners and media professionals to quickly find and download what they need.
Reluctant Users See the Proof
If there is an opposite to the business descriptor “startup,” it would describe Faber-Castell, which has been in business since the 18th century.
Migrating product information management to a suite of digital systems was a great idea, but it would not be without challenges. Digitizing the company’s systems and workflows had to provide clear benefits that were indisputable, measurable and sustainable.
The project team delivered on those goals:
- Product information now has a home in a master database of record, which eliminates ambiguity with regard to where official information lives, or which information is current.
- Rich media content is readily accessible to internal users, media professionals, external partners and retail channels, and connected business systems too.
- Agencies and freelance photographers now upload directly into Picturepark, instead of having to send CDs, or login to ftp accounts.
- A searchable, always-current online catalog is available globally, while being managed centrally.
“The connection between all these systems isn’t perfect, but it is pretty exact,” said Wersig. “Users have grown to appreciate it and everyone is very happy now.”
This content was authored and published by Picturepark, with the cooperation and permission of Faber-Castell. Thanks to Faber-Castell’s Jürgen Wersig for his assistance.
Systems mentioned in this article: