• Product Lifecycle Management


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Single Source of Truth for Product Master Data

A Scalable Solution to Support Massive Future Growth

Company Situation:

  • Global manufacturer of biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer products, and supplements
  • Highly cross-functional project (50+ global departments, 20+ external regulators, 10+ customers)
  • Requested a scalable solution (process, system, people) with minimal headcount growth over 15+ years

The Problem:

  • Inability to provide upcoming product master data was a significant threat to commercial operations
  • Current processes, systems, and personnel overwhelmed with current load
  • Multiple product master data repositories in use; not integrated; data not consistent across systems
    • Expected >3,000% growth in Data Points from future regulatory and customer requirements
    • 300,000 products + 100,000 new products annually times 60+ systems = billions of Data Points

How We Did It:

First, we championed the need for a solution with senior leaders and gained the approvals and budgets necessary to proceed.

We worked with 20+ key stakeholder groups (internal and external) to inventory their expected Data Attribute and Data Point needs over a 15 year time horizon. The stakeholders represented every facet of commercial operations. We also collaborated closely with industry and standards organizations such as the GS1 Global Healthcare Public Policy team to better understand the needs. The result was several hundred new attributes needed.

We then worked closely with IT and master data group to develop a scalable Data Model to capture, organize, and model the attributes, then we ran simulations to verify the design. Once the design was stable, a Roadmap to rollout the data model was developed and socialized, outlining the risk-based, phased approach.

The master data group had previously acquired a system solution that was sparingly used, so the new Data Model was implemented and tested in the existing system, and confirmed to be capable of managing the needs. This became the Single Source of Truth for all product master data. Some configuration changes were needed in the system, but no system modifications were required.

A new master data organization was formed, consolidating three groups into a single global entity. Governance, management, and operational processes were developed to enable significant productivity efficiencies in-line with the capabilities of the new system.

Finally, we cutover to the Single Source of Truth in a phased approach including:

  • Load new solution with existing data
  • Gather/load several million new Data Points to meet current regulations and customer needs
  • Decommission several systems that previously managed the master data
  • Operations began in the new system with the updated processes and procedures

The desired results were achieved almost immediately. Year 1 represents the startup of the new solution with a smaller set of new attributes, with the phased rollout of more data attributes and data points beginning in Year 2.

High Impact Outcomes:

Headcount Growth vs. Data Point Growth
First 4 Years of Program

PLM Headcount Growth vs Data Point Growth


Productivity Growth
First 4 Years of Program

PLM Productivity Growth


Data Model
Key Attribute Areas Managed

PLM Data Model

Key Learnings:

  • The optimized process and new tools achieved significant productivity gains with low headcount growth
  • Delivered a ‘capability’, not just a project
    • Additional attributes flowed into Data Model quickly and without drama
    • New regulations or customer requirements easily integrated into new solution
    • One source of truth improved ‘trust’ in the data and facilitated its adoption into other systems
  • Gaining the trust and support of senior management was crucial to overcoming obstacles and ensuring a fast-delivery project. Senior management appreciated the project team bringing this need to their attention, educating them on the risks and impacts, and driving success.


  • Clintrak - Jeffrey D. Coffin
    I have had the great pleasure to work with Bob for 5 years in his position of VP of Quality at Fisher Packaging Services while I acted as Director of Quality services at a sister…
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