Move on from managing your products with spreadsheets

Excel is great, but…..

I love spreadsheets. I love Excel especially. I’ve been using Excel since 1993 and I was fortunate to teach Excel short courses in the mid-late 90s. Pivot tables and VLOOKUP have been very good to me over many years in helping me complete detailed financial modelling without the need for specialist applications.

I’ve also had a lot to do with product management and publishing over many years. I ran Product Selector / – one of the information directory pioneers here in Australia within the building and design industries.

I have also been fortunate to work with many great Australian companies to create their catalogues since I founded Catalog Automation Pty Ltd nearly three years ago.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty. Excel is not a product management tool. Sure, it lets you manage a list of products, prices, and limited product attributes. But what about the rest?

How do you manage product relationships or multiple instances of a product within your range within Excel? Or add different attributes (e.g. price, length, height, weight) to different products within your product range. Or maintain different prices for different customer segments. Or manage version control and manage the process in a team environment.

Product Information Management Solutions can help, but…..

Enter the realm of the specialist product information management solutions (or PIMS for short) – either deployed as a server based application or increasingly sold as software as a service (SaaS).

Unfortunately, in my experience these solutions are very heavy on the technology and make it very difficult for a product manager or the creative department to navigate their way logically. You spend more time managing the PIMS software than you do managing your products.

These solutions aren’t very output focused either. You may get your product data in to such a system, but where’s the button to press to create a catalogue, or a price list, or a flyer, or an MSDS (material safety data sheet)?

ERP systems aren’t marketing friendly

Another consideration for product management is the use of one of the big ERP platforms. While these solutions are fantastic at managing the enterprise including complex billing, resource allocation and reporting, they also fall down when it comes to a marketing friendly interface.

They typically don’t cope well with any sort of complex or variable product categorization, and they certainly don’t handle detailed product attributes.


So, I did something to change product management for the better, I created is a web-based product information management solution that lets you focus on products, product instances, product attributes and most importantly product output.

Working with a small team of great designers and programmers we have created a simple, easy-to use interface which allows a product manager or marketing creative to work their way logically through a product range in a simple, draggable tree interface. Product attributes and page templates are managed along the way.

The product data can easily be exported and used to create a catalogue using EasyCatalog – our preferred tool for creating automated catalogue pages.

We would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate via web demo and to learn how we may help your company to manage its products better.

Please visit our website at, email or call us on 1300 313 644 to learn more.