By Tim O’Connor
The recent launch of the FEDA Data Repository represents one of the most critical initiatives FEDA has undertaken. It is the culmination of years of hard work that began when the association’s Industry Technology Committee started laying the groundwork for data governance standards in 2019. As the effort progressed, it became clear the industry needed a strong set of standards for formatting product information and specifications.
With the FEDA Data Repository, the association has surpassed those initial ideas to create a comprehensive and easy-to-use database of product information. That database is an essential piece of the association’s Data Governance and Quality project, which seeks to ensure members have transparent and affordable access to quality product data that meet uniform standards. In the past, manufacturers and dealers have struggled to use data that is often provided in conflicting and cumbersome formats, limiting their potential to make the highest use of that information. To solve that problem, FEDA worked with a cross-section of suppliers, dealers and consultants to create agreed upon product data standards, which are described in the Data Repository Product Glossary on learn.feda.com. Use of the repository will help ensure that dealers are able to sell products and serve customers more quickly and efficiently over time while helping to provide cost savings to the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, in general.
Repository Kick-Off Training
As individuals begin to use the repository and integrate it with their systems, they are bound to have questions about how they can get the most out of the platform. To help dealers and manufacturers realize that full potential, FEDA will focus its Learn 2022 virtual training on the FEDA Data Repository.
The inaugural Learn event was held in May 2021 but will move to Jan. 18-20 for 2022. There will be no cost to participate for FEDA distributor members and all foodservice equipment manufacturers. “We decided to hold the online Learn training earlier in the year to better accommodate manufacturers and dealers who are using the repository for the first time, or want additional information and support,” FEDA CEO Tracy Mulqueen says. “Learn 2022 will teach dealers and manufacturers everything they need to know to make the repository an invaluable part of their operations, including the terminology and processes for accessing and uploading product information. We are excited to be offering this important in-depth training to the industry at a moment when it is most timely.”
The product glossary serves as the starting point for using the information on the repository, which is why multiple sessions at the training will be devoted to understanding this vital tool. It describes all of the attributes available for a product – from pricing and shipping weight to what kind of door it uses – and defines the standards for inputting those attributes into the repository. A product can have potentially dozens of attributes included, however, 14 essential data points are required for an item to be added to the system. Norman Mackay, a consultant from Infoverity and a member of the FEDA Data Repository Project team, will lead the session and explain how to understand and use the product glossary. The presentation will cover how manufacturers can reconcile their existing product database to more easily upload information to the repository. Dealers will learn how to understand the product glossary’s terminology and how various attribute fields describe individual products.
Distributors who attend will also learn how to access manufacturer product information and integrate it with their existing technologies. Sessions will cover how to query and extract information from the repository, how to sort data and how to handle error messages.
The manufacturer-focused sessions at Learn 2022 will be geared toward strengthening product glossary usage and the process of uploading data. Attendees will learn how to add product information to the database, make updates to previously loaded data and review information for accuracy. FEDA project team members will use sample templates and uploads to walk manufacturers through each step.
For those who have unique complexities that require more granular training, the Learn 2022 training will include discussion sessions and open hours with the FEDA Data Repository project team. During the discussion sessions, attendees will use the virtual platform’s chat function to ask questions and share their experiences using the repository. For those that still have questions or need additional one-on-one training, the project team will offer personalized assistance during Learn 2022.
Although the focus of the Learn 2022 event will be on training, it will also give attendees a glimpse at the next stages for the repository. FEDA staff will present a roadmap for the database and will review a list of enhancements to the platform that are up for consideration based on user feedback. “The Learn 2022 training will not only educate manufacturers and FEDA dealer members about the platform but also involve them in the future development of the FEDA Data Repository and how it will evolve alongside their business needs,” Mulqueen says.
To learn more about the Learn 2022 training and to register, please visit learn.feda.com.