Integrating data from different Dealer Management Systems (DMS) is a complex undertaking.
The result is a unified stream of data for manufacturers or their service partners, but without robust methodology and software there is a risk that data streams will be incomplete, lacking in quality or out-of-date.

At a project planning level, these are the ways in which our consultants minimise risk when implementing our automotive data integration platform, DataHub.

1. Dealer data access issues

Dealerships are rightly protective of their data, but the client has to obtain their approval for obtaining and processing that data. Our approach is to provide dealers with full details of the program to reassure them, including:

The method of accessing the data and the security standards used
Records of the data accessed and full details of any processing that will be applied
Our approach to confidentiality and the fact that the data is not shared with other dealers
The benefits of the program.

2. Unresponsive stakeholders

Every project requires timely response from all stakeholders, including DMS providers, third party service companies and dealers. We provide the stakeholders in our projects with enough comprehensive information to ensure their cooperation. Our information packs include:

Project overview and benefits
Requests for information using standard data templates to ensure complete and standardised information
Advance timeline of events to ensure that stakeholders are available when required.

3. Data feed failure

Once the project is implemented, extracts run automatically each day, using internet protocols to securely transfer data. Any changes on the DMS (e.g. user login details) or on the dealer’s network can cause the transfer to fail. With our software, automatic daily reports show details of any failed transmissions and this is reported to local personnel at the dealership. The feed is then reconnected. Our system is able to collect any missed data when each extract operates again.

4. DMS provider access issues

It’s inevitable that some DMS suppliers will not allow direct access to their systems and instead will provide extract files. In these instances, our consultants work with the suppliers to provide details of extracts required, and then test the extracts that are provided.

5. Server failure

We cannot exclude the risk that our server hardware may fail. To address this we run a fully dual redundant architecture, so that if the live system should fail, a switchover to the backup will ensure the system remains fully operational.

6. Poor data quality or unreliable feeds from third parties

Using our data transformation software we can easily implement rules to verify the quality of the data feeds (e.g. validate VIN, dates are within specified range). Any failures will be logged and can be reported back to the dealer. Filtering rules can be applied to ensure that only records that satisfy a specific criteria will be processed.

7. Data model changes

Any DMS changes which affect the underlying data model and feed (e.g. adding additional feeds) will require the data mappings to be updated to reflect the changes. Our data transformation software will allow us to make these changes quickly and minimise downtime.

8. Duplication

With data arriving from different systems and feeds, there is a risk that records or specific entities (e.g. customer, vehicle) will be duplicated. Our data transformation software can remove duplication by merging identifying fields.

9. Uncategorised data

Often there is a need to categorise data into manageable groups. An example is categorising the workshop activity carried out on a vehicle, such as service, repair, warranty or bodyshop. We use code lookups or keyword detection to carry out the required catergorisation.

10. Diverse character sets

Data extracted from different regions of the world will inevitably contain different character sets. It is essential to ensure all character sets are encoded correctly. Our software is configured to counter character set issues by using UTF-8 (Universal Character Set). As a back-up, our consultants also validate the feeds by double-checking with a local representative, such as a dealer or the manufacturer.

Further reading

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