Ten Things To Think About When Building Your Item Master

Eight Things to Think About When Building Your Item Master

A key component of your ERP, and thus technical side of your business, is the item master. Think of it as the key-chain that will let data link throughout your business systems. Each item in inventory has information – dims, weights, names, etc. – all of that information will be in the item master.

There are few digital elements that have as great an impact on external collections as an item master.

Depending on your organizational maturity, you may already have an item master naming convention defined. If not, here are eight things to consider when building your item master.

Eight Things to Consider When Building Your Item Master

    There are constraints with how many characters can be read between different systems. For instance, your ERP may accommodate up to 18 characters, but your Warehouse Management System can only handle 15 and your Webstore 13. Taking stock of constraints within the interdependent systems before building your item master is critical. If you don’t understand limitations across the system, be ready for some real challenges in the future.
    You will need controls – both now and in the future. Assign a cohort of several people who understand the convention and process associated with building the item master. The obvious reason is to have backup resources should key staff fall ill or leave. The other reason is to have a change control board of sorts so that there are several pairs of eyeballs on new entries or changes to the item master. Once new entries or changes are complete, hold a final review with key functional staff to bless the changes before they go into production.
    Identify one point person owning the process from end to end. Typically handled by your ERP Administrator, but may vary based on your organizational structure. An oversight on the launch or upkeep of the item master will have catastrophic impacts across the organization. Having someone who owns the process and can shepherd the team through is critical. If an issue does come up, the Item Master Lead will quickly be able to resolve it.
    It’s really easy to go haywire thinking of all the different permutations for a product based on size, color, category, weight, region and so on. The best rule of thumb is to keep the item number simple. If you are a company selling apparel, sporting equipment, and gardening supplies, you might consider all clothing SKUs to look something like “CLO23489”.
    The gift and the curse of today’s digital exhaust is the amount of information available – we love it for the insights it can give us, but it can also be paralyzing. Entering the data is often viewed as a whole other type of paralysis. This process is key to strategic insights and should not be taken lightly. Your reports are only as good as your data. The more options you have available will dictate reporting depth.Your ERP system and strategic direction will decide how many fields per item need recording. Be intentional about developing a good practice of entering all data points from launch of an item master initiative. Institutional regret will surface when a report or analysis can neither be run nor be useful due to the lack of information available.
    Item naming, much like the numbering convention mentioned in #1, will also have impacts across systems. The item name created is passed across several different places: your WMS, webstore, a B2B or B2C page and elsewhere. While ‘AmbBot10oz’, for instance, may look good to your ERP Admin, when that shows up on a customer facing site, no one will be happy. Ensure that you understand where the item name will (or may) appear and bring in all cross-functional groups to decide on what a proper name is.
    Your organizations goals and practices will vary. Here is an example list of teams to involve in item naming (and numbering) meetings: Finance and Admin, Supply Chain, Marketing, Wholesale, Regulatory, and Product.
    There isn’t any turning back. Rewriting an item master of 10,000 SKUs will result in the entire team pulling their hair out and the reverberations of frustration will be felt throughout the organization. Item master processes and formats are a ‘one and done’ events.

Take your time. Measure several times. Test different scenarios.

Be intentional about the process and you will be on your way to item master serenity.

Scratching my head

Why it took so long to get back to blogging I have no idea, but here I am.

Actually I have a bit of an idea – I wanted to simplify things, remove clutter, stop having so many ‘things to do’. I guess going back to school and pursuing two highly competitive MS degrees will do that. Also all the ‘shoot for the stars’ and ‘be insanely productive’ chatter throughout the web contributed to it as well.

I tried to do too much, was able to do a lot of things at a very high level (like this), but was miserable.

There came a point where I felt I should always be doing more and didn’t pay enough attention to the filter I needed to weed out those things that weren’t having a big impact for me emotionally, because that, to me, is what it’s all about.

I was pursuing several different businesses. I was developing academic curriculums. I Money is great (and we need it), tinkering and playing is too (fun to juggle projects), deep dives into the unknown are fantastic. My problem was that I got so deep into exploring a few things, and cursorily into so many others, that I just got stretched so and stopped doing everything.

I stopped:

  • blogging
  • reading
  • coding
  • exercising
  • cooking
  • creating art
  • …and so on and so on

What it came to was a type of complete burnout that hit every aspect of my life.

I went from one extreme to another.

I’m now finally back to working on projects I enjoy, but with that filter.

I was scratching my head (literally) and just thought, “Thunderation! Why don’t I pick blogging back up?”

Life’s a process, here’s the next step.


Kitlas.com is on hiatus

Why? Too busy!

I am performing research, writing, project management and strategic eCommerce (web-store, supply chain, ERP) design functions for a number of clients. If you need some help in one of these areas, don’t be afraid to contact me about freelance opportunities!

I am looking forward to get back to blogging soon!


P.S. If you are wondering, the picture is of Kes and I chowing down on a variety of traditional Urhobo delicacies.



Project Code Rush – Open source film

In the world of technology and commerce, so much has changed, and so much hasn’t. I came across Project Code Rush | Click Movement (dot) org, the site that hosts the Project Code Rush movie,  via the OpenCulture’s excellent 500 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc. page. The one hour documentary gives a firsthand look at the heady days inside Mozilla prior to their then revolutionary public release of their browser code prior to the AOL Netscape merger.

from http://clickmovement.org: Continue reading Project Code Rush – Open source film


PsyQic launch show off

One of my favorite apps, PsyQic, had its official launch today in the iTunes store. It was pretty cool to see (part of) my face (and all of Kes’s) in the iPhone screenshots section!

This would also be a good time to note that I’ve been so busy with school, consulting and the job search that I haven’t had the time to keep up my top-2 position (as well as other things, LIKE BLOG POSTS)…but that will soon change 🙂

You can go here to download it.

PsyQic is an easy, fun, and social way to share predictions. You can make predictions on sports, politics, TV shows, movies, business, science, environment, technologies, and more. Flex those ESP muscles to improve your Qi score, indicating your “PsyQic” ability. Continue reading PsyQic launch show off