The Premier Data Supplier as an award for excellent data quality

In the interview part III: Marco Loth and Markus Leister from TMD Friction

In his role as Vice President, Marco Loth’s responsibilities include “Category Management” as well as global data management, pricing, sourcing and engineering. He is also responsible for sales in the Asian region. Markus Leister heads the “Global Data” unit. A key aspect of this unit is the maintenance and preparation of catalog data. Together with Jürgen Mehlis, EVP Data Manager Products at TecAlliance, we talked about the growing importance of data quality in a rapidly developing market and constantly increasing customer requirements.

Since last year, we have been working at full speed on optimizing data quality in the TecDoc Catalogue. With new validations and key performance indicators (KPIs), we are also adding a new quality status for data suppliers. In addition to the already well-known and established “Certified Data Supplier (CDS)” award, data suppliers can now also achieve another higher award level, namely that of “Premier Data Supplier (PDS)”.

Jürgen Mehlis: The new data quality initiative not only arose from our ideas, our input and our perspective on the topic of data quality, but the requirements came directly from the trade, i.e. from your customers. How do you see the new initiative?

Markus Leister: We always strive to act in a very customer-oriented way, and so it is welcome from our side that TecAlliance has launched these measures. It was very helpful that the DQM workshops were offered. They gave us the opportunity to discuss certain things with each other. This way, at the end of the day, we can develop a better solution for our common customer, the retailers. Of course, we are also aware that we are faced with an immense amount of work here. But this is an effort that is worth facing up to, so that our data quality can ultimately reach the next level.

Jürgen Mehlis: Exactly, and it pays off.  In the end, the customer is satisfied and the return rate decreases. That is the goal we are pursuing with the DQM Initiative; to achieve a unambiguous spare part identification.
Now the DQM initiative has produced new KPIs. Are there any that you consider particularly important?

Markus Leister, Head of Global Data / Catalogue Data Manager TMD Friction

Markus Leister: The way I see it, this evaluation is on the side of our customers. If, in the course of implementing these DQM measures, it becomes easier for our customers to read the data, to process the data, then we have collectively taken a big step forward. If we now take as an example that we have to increase the number of standard languages that have always had to be maintained in the text modules, then of course it makes sense. In this way, we are taking more account of the “internationalization” trend and our entry into the growth markets. The fact that we no longer assume that we have these six standard languages that are always valid, but instead make more effort to also serve other languages that are necessary internationally.

Jürgen Mehlis: How is TMD Friction committed to the new measures resulting from the DQM initiative?

Markus Leister: Our goal is to be a Certified Data Supplier on an ongoing basis. If we continuously achieve this level in the data supplier evaluation, it is a sign of quality for me internally. For us, however, this also means that our goal in the future is no longer just to be a Certified Data Supplier, but also a Premier Data Supplier. That is a clear target for us, that these KPIs are in our focus. The implementation of these KPIs or the achievement of these KPIs is a must for us.
The new KPIs make it easier for the customer to understand and read the respective data much faster

Jürgen Mehlis: From your point of view, are current market developments reflected in the new KPIs?

Markus Leister: I think so. The point of all these measures is that data can be read much more quickly. The customer gets the information he needs much faster. By reducing the criterion values for the primary keys to three digits, the data as a whole is presented in a much more structured way and can be read more quickly.

Jürgen Mehlis: After all, we are not only addressing the sort order, but we have also added logical attributes to the products. In the meantime, we have revised 260 generic articles so that only those attributes are allowed that also apply to these products. We’ re therefore also addressing the logical attributes so that there is more standard in there.
We’ve already talked about how data quality management has changed internally at your company. How do you perceive this change at TecAlliance?

Markus Leister: Anyone who has been working in the industry for a while, like me, still remembers the quality workshops back then. It is good to see that there is movement in the entire area. That overall we are all trying to raise our data quality to a higher level. Ultimately, this helps all our customers first and foremost.
The Premier Data Supplier award serves as a strong mark of quality and is one of TMD Friction’s goals in the area of data management.

Jürgen Mehlis: The Premier Data Supplier was introduced with the DQM initiative as a new quality standard. How important is it to you to get this certification? What concrete advantage do you see in being distinguished as a Premier Data Supplier?

Marco Loth: A premium supplier, as in the case of TMD Friction, must also be the premium data supplier in this segment. This is certainly a distinction that is almost taken for granted by our customers, that we deliver our data in the corresponding quality. Within TMD Friction, it is also a clear endeavor to provide the data to TecAlliance at this level and, of course, to obtain this certification. Even if this involves a certain amount of effort. But that has to be done in order to ensure that we get into this circle of premium suppliers.

TMD Friction world of brands

Jürgen Mehlis: That is also our aim, to award premium data suppliers with this certificate. The Certified Data Supplier is very important. It shows that the data standards and logic are adhered to. Everyone is working towards this, and the majority of suppliers have now achieved this status.
However, a supplier will only be able to achieve the Premier Data Supplier status, when he really puts a lot of work into its data quality. At this level, the KPIs will be continuously sharpened and expanded. Consequently, this means that companies must continuously work on maintaining this status in the long term. This makes the Premier Data Supplier a special and extraordinary distinction. So if 50% of our data suppliers suddenly became Premier Data Suppliers, we would of course be delighted on the one hand, but it would also be a clear signal to us that the criteria for the status are too soft. With this status, we ensure that the mass of suppliers is not watered down and that the Premier Data Supplier also retains a certain value. For this reason, the validation for Premier Data Supplier checks not only the data logic, but also the data content. There will be even stricter criteria for evaluating this in the future.

Marco Loth: That is also right and important. I think that the award as Premier Data Supplier must have precisely this signal. It must indicate that you stand out from the crowd with your data quality.

Jürgen Mehlis: Good feedback! Thank you for that! If we look into the future and the topic of data quality. Is there anything you would like to see from TecAlliance? Is there anything you are still missing in terms of data quality management?

Markus Leister: I think that with the new initiative, everything is being picked up in real detail, and I’m really looking forward to working together to raise the overall level of data quality.

Read also part 1 and 2 of the interview:

Part 1: Data quality success factor at TMD Friction – between globalization, digitalization & rising customer expectations

Part 2: How customer requirements increase the complexity of data quality management at TMD Friction