UNSPSC is the Swiss Army Knife of classification: many users, robust, and well known. And just like the Swiss Army Knife, UNSPSC classification is a great tool with many great use cases. It covers everything and is a great one-stop shop. The UNSPSC code is maintained and has a logical hierarchy and groupings. However, anyone that has owned a Swiss Army Knife – or any multi-tool – knows that, while it gets the job done, some jobs require a more specialized tool. And to get the job done on time and accurately, professionals invest in – and use – specialized tools. So why is relying on UNSPSC classification for medical devices problematic for healthcare supply chain teams?
The Reason UNSPSC Classification for Medical Devices Is Problematic
UNSPSC stands for United Nations Standard Products and Services Code. The UNSPSC is a standard in the global economy as it is governed by the UN (United Nations); and due to this, the codeset is well maintained.
As previously stated, UNSPSC is a great system, and we are not discrediting the fact that the UNSPSC classification and taxonomy have their place in the world; they do. However, UNSPSC often times is not a robust enough tool for medical devices.
An example that I often bring up to customers is that if you type “cherries” into the UNSPSC search engine, it will return over 375 results: canned maraschino cherries, fresh duke cherries, frozen organic black tartarian cherries, and the list continues. This is an oddly specific classification for a type of fruit that few could name more than one type of variety.