Travis Perkins improves data quality

Construction industry supplier Travis Perkins Group has signed a three-year contract with DataFlux to optimise its product database.


The new contract will see the company deploy DataFlux’s dfPower Studio technology to help standardise and improve the quality of product descriptions with its product database, which covers around 240,000 product lines.


The standardisation will also help to improve the in-store, call centre and online product search processes.


The bespoke database will support the company’s UK-wide network of over 1,200 merchant and retail outlets, which includes brands such as Wickes and Tile Giant.


Dataflux’s software will run on Windows XP on PCs in Travis Perkins’ data management department, and use a licence server.


“The problem we have is that different manufacturers of similar products use different terminology. All the different words used make it difficult to find a product.


“We are looking to standardise formats and descriptions, and estimate it will take 12 to 18 months to fix,” said Sean Sinclair, group head of data development at Travis Perkins.


The company receives thousands of product descriptions a month, from more than 1,200 manufacturers.


The software allows the company to take a set of different product descriptions and parse it into individual parts, which can then be categorised. The company will then build standardisation rules to apply to the database.


“Once you have built up the rules and schemes, you can apply it to the new data as it comes in.


“It’s [the software] is relatively easy to use. We are looking at integrating it into our database so you can access it directly from our internal databases,” said Sinclair.


This project is one part of an overall data management project that Travis Perkins has been looking at for the last 12 months, and the dfPower Studio application is now a part of a suite of data management tools at the company’s disposal.


“We tend to develop our software in-house,” said Sinclair. However with this project, he said that the IT department decided that it “wasn’t cost-effective” to do so.


The fundraising arm of Great Ormond Street Hospital implemented the dfPower Studio technology from DataFlux in 2008, to enable its fundraisers to improve the quality of records on the donor database. 

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