Keeping Tabs on Master Data

February 15, 2011 by By Daniel Hardt and Holger Reimer

Spoilt for choice: NetWeaver MDM or SAP MDG for managing master data (photo: Fotolia)

Spoilt for choice: NetWeaver MDM or SAP MDG for managing master data (photo: Fotolia)

Many companies tend to get into a muddle when it comes to master data. If data is distributed across different systems and applications, poor master data maintenance often leads to conflicts – and also to increased costs and annoyed customers. Unsynchronized master data occurs more frequently in small businesses and midsize companies than in large enterprises.

For example, a spare part for a car can be ordered from various suppliers, all of whom use a different material number. At the same time, the part can be built into different models manufactured in different years. If companies don’t adopt a systematic approach, a jumble of data with many specifications can quickly result. The consequences are expensive manual data entry, combined with delays and processing errors.

To avoid such and other problems – in customer relationship management, inventory management, employee administration, and so on – SAP offers two products:

SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM) and SAP Master Data Governance.

Technical and process-related criteria dictate which product is better suited for which company. SAP.info uses a comparison to show which solution is preferable in which case.

For further information, please read the article: “Keeping Tabs on Master Data”

Read on: SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management

The SAP NetWeaver MDM user interface (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

The SAP NetWeaver MDM user interface (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management

The SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management component was first released in 2004 and today comprises various preconfigured scenarios for master data processes. These SAP NetWeaver MDM Quick Starters are available for materials management and supplier relationship management, for example. Thanks to a generic and flexible data model, the software can be used – as a rule – for all master data objects from SAP and non-SAP system landscapes.

SAP NetWeaver MDM uses the SAP Business Process Management service for flexible, cross-system workflows and ensures collaborative master data management for all areas of a company. Furthermore, simple validations can be performed in the master data management system itself. More complex calculations for field values, maintenance screens, address and geographical data, and so on can be completed using SAP BusinessObjects Data Services software.

SAP Business Rules Management is also part of SAP NetWeaver MDM and serves as a tool for defining rules with agility – and with no need for programming skills in the user department.

If master data is distributed across many different systems, we recommend combining SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management with SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) technology.

The currently available version of SAP NetWeaver MDM is 7.1.

SAP Master Data Governance

In a nutshell, SAP Master Data Governance can be described as integrated master data management, because it enables data within SAP Business Suite to be maintained and managed centrally. It was launched in 2008 for managing financial data. Mid-2011, it is slated to be enabled for managing material data and vendor data.

SAP Master Data Governance is based on SAP ERP technology and uses ERP data models that are completely integrated and – in the case of SAP Master Data Management – already exist and are deployable for materials and vendors. The prerequisite is SAP ERP 6.0 and enhancement package 5. Central data management then takes place in SAP systems based on SAP data models and predefined processes that go beyond standard process logic.

That’s why, as well as integrating SAP BusinessObjects Data Services, program validation logic developed in ABAP can be used for certain objects, fields, and screens. In addition, standardized workflows are offered in the form of SAP Business Workflow and framework for SAP Rules Management is also included.

Data distribution scenarios with ALE and IDoc technology are deployed as before and can be reused within the SAP system.

Read on: Conclusion

Configuring SAP NetWeaver MDM (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

Configuring SAP NetWeaver MDM (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

The SAP Master Data Governance user interface (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

The SAP Master Data Governance user interface (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

Conclusion

If you’re planning to implement a new solution to manage your master data, make sure you take a close look at the technical prerequisites and the business requirements for each individual master data object. You should also develop a strategy to ensure that the decision will stand the test of time.

Agile and heterogeneous: SAP NetWeaver MDM

Because SAP NetWeaver technology functions irrespective of other software, SAP NetWeaver MDM is especially suited if there’s a possibility that new companies with heterogeneous systems will be integrated at some point. The product provides a suitable and flexible data model for such a scenario. The technology is also recommended if your developers tend to have programming skills in Java rather than ABAP, or if any Web Dynpro experience at the customer is also based on Java. Other criteria include experience with SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (SAP NetWeaver BPM) or if you are not planning on implementing enhancement package 5.

Homogeneous and static: SAP Master Data Governance

SAP Master Data Governance is a standardized data management tool that you should think about implementing if you use SAP ERP as your master data server and you have already hooked up your own custom developments to optimize processes. These complex validations are usually programmed in ABAP, and knowledge of ABAP – both at your company and your company’s customer – are factors that speak for SAP Master Data Governance. If, for example, you use the object “material” only within SAP Business Suite and in quite a static way, then you can’t go far wrong with SAP Master Data Governance.

For more detailed advice, SAP partner Camelot ITLab provides a checklist that enables the most suitable master data management tool to be selected for each object.

Implementation Guide for SAP Master Data Governance (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

Implementation Guide for SAP Master Data Governance (screenshot: Camelot ITLab)

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