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Master Data Management: Bringing Clarity to Your Company with SAP NetWeaver MDM

by SAP and Partners: BearingPoint

July 1, 2008

by SAP and Partners: BearingPoint, Inc., SITA CORP, ecenta AG, and Atos Origin SAP NetWeaver Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 3
 

Inside

The following solution providers are highlighted in this supplement:

BearingPoint, Inc.
Achieving Efficiency and Effectiveness with Your Master Data: BearingPoint’s Roadmap to an Enterprise-Wide EDM Strategy
SITA CORP
A 3-Tiered Roadmap to MDM Mastery
ecenta AG
Moving to Enterprise SOA? Start with a Solid MDM Foundation
Atos Origin
The Journey to Improved Master Data Management: Atos Origin Can Lead the Way

Bringing Clarity to Your Company with SAP NetWeaver MDM


Hartmut Schaper
Senior Vice President
SAP NetWeaver MDM

Sometimes, all a business needs to succeed is the truth — meaning that companies must have true and accurate data in their internal systems in order to prosper. However, many companies are struggling with the opposite situation: Redundant and misaligned master data all across their system landscape. For example, the same customer or supplier data is represented inconsistently in multiple systems. Often, this redundant information is conflicting , especially if no governance and corporate standards are applied.

One might judge this as a pure IT problem. However, this situation leads to real business problems: Wrong business decisions are taken because of incorrect reporting — for example, if you are unable to see a particular customer’s orders across all systems. Customer satisfaction and therefore revenue is negatively affected if you are unable to respond to customer inquiries in a reasonable way.

Take a look at your company’s systems and determine how accurate your master data really is. Ask yourself: In your company, how many different databases, applications, and spreadsheets exist that hold information about your customers, your suppliers, and even your own products? How costly and time consuming is the creation and maintenance process? And most importantly, how trusted is the information behind these data assets?

If your own data is giving you multiple versions of the truth, imagine what that’s telling partners in your business networks. Clarity into your own data becomes even more important as you seek to expand the reach of your business by networking with other companies.

To help companies find the truth is the role of master data management (MDM). SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM) is enabling one version of the truth within your company, and it is a necessary foundation for enterprise services and business process management in any value network — providing a single version of the truth for customer, product, employee, supplier, or user-defined data objects.

Benefits of Moving to SAP NetWeaver MDM

SAP NetWeaver MDM enables you to consolidate, synchronize, distribute, centrally manage, and publish any type of master data object across your enterprise and with trading partners. By providing a central view of all strategic data, it helps you improve business processes and lays the foundation for enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA).

SAP NetWeaver MDM goes directly to your bottom line and to improving top-line results. With it, you can consolidate your supplier base to understand how much you’re spending and negotiate a higher discount. You can consolidate data about your products to enable up-selling and cross-selling. You can also consolidate customer data, because you can almost guarantee that your customers have consolidated their data about you.

Not only will SAP NetWeaver MDM translate immediately into savings and opportunity for revenue growth but it will also serve as a foundation for the future. As you expand your business networks and your forays into globalization, SAP NetWeaver MDM is there to enable this strategy and, over time, make it much more efficient.

More importantly, it enables change to happen quickly. In the past, relationships between business partners tended to be static over a long period of time. Today, these relationships have become more fluid and less stable. In prior days, one could work with partners to build custom interfaces to exchange data. Today, the speed of change creates additional complexity, and much of that burden falls on IT.

In this regard, however, IT has not necessarily been an enabler of change so far. Going forward, enterprise services will be the backbone to truly enable flexible value networks, and synchronized master data must be the foundation for these enterprise services.

Currently, businesses work around the lack of reliable data in a variety of ways — but often no common language and solution exists for MDM. Without synchronized master data, a company is unable to exchange valuable data quickly and consistently. Without reliable master data, when it comes to transactions with partners, all you know at the end of the day is that someone bought something for some price.

Importance of Data Synchronization Growing

SAP NetWeaver MDM is for everyone. Some industries, like retail or consumer-packaged goods, have known the value of master data for a long time. But what was once a requirement of a few specialized industries is now mandatory for all. This requirement is becoming more pressing with the rising need to ensure compliance in a dynamic environment where mergers and acquisitions and all kinds of dynamic partnering have increasingly become a normal way of doing business.

Look at the volumes of data any company produces today. If not consolidated and harmonized, this data will become unmanageable (if it isn’t already). SAP NetWeaver MDM enables you to not only get your house in order, data-wise, but also put that data to better use by allowing you to share it within your own company and with your trading partners.

If you don’t synchronize the data involving all your suppliers, how can you do a proper global spend analysis? And without global spend analysis, how can you do any meaningful supplier consolidation? The same questions apply to data about your customers and products. If this data is not centrally managed, marketing campaigns as well as customer analytics will be less effective; therefore, you cannot run your business in a closed loop of insight, decisions, and operations.

Many customers have told me about how they already have “master data solutions.” When I ask, often it turns out that they actually have a different master data solution for different parts of the business, and few if at all are synchronized.

The idea behind SAP NetWeaver MDM is that it offers a centralized solution flexible enough to replace all other master data systems, and combines it with powerful technology, advanced search, and matching for large data volumes. SAP NetWeaver MDM comes as a pre-packaged solution that interoperates with most major applications, databases, and operating systems.

SAP NetWeaver MDM Server has two souls operating simultaneously, combining the business intelligence with the operational aspects of your business. Also, it integrates with not only SAP systems, but also has strong integration capabilities to non-SAP systems, providing you not only one version of the truth, but one that spans the expanse of your business around the globe.

The Road to Clarity

Every company needs a master data solution, but implementing it not only can test technical expertise, but also corporate institutionalism of business processes and internal politics. Before you implement this solution, you need to determine who is responsible for what data. “Responsible,” in this case, really means who owns that data, and this explanation can lead to very interesting internal discussions.

Implementing an MDM solution with SAP NetWeaver MDM forces you to reach some clarity about who is ultimately responsible for major data in an enterprise. Achieving that clarity all at once can be akin to boiling the ocean, though, so you might need to start your master data project small, to go after low-hanging fruit that will immediately produce benefits and then build on this success to enlarge the solution scope.

This is a journey that takes time, for it speaks directly to the heart and soul of what makes an enterprise successful. Your enterprise may have to change the way business has been run for many years. That kind of transformation needs backing by the business and at the top echelon of your company.

Implementing SAP NetWeaver MDM can be a driver of business process transformation, to prepare your company for the future. Not all companies are well prepared for this task, but fortunately, help is available.

Outlook

With SAP NetWeaver MDM, SAP is not in this alone. We work very closely with our implementation partners, some of whom have already built significant practices on MDM and on SAP NetWeaver MDM in particular. We also work closely with partners who provide tools and methodologies to ensure data quality.

At the same time, SAP is increasing its investment into SAP NetWeaver MDM. The acquisition of Business Objects has expanded the already considerable analytical MDM capabilities of the system further. We are currently at work on version 7.1, which will contain significant meta-model enhancements and more complex data structures, along with integration of Business Objects capabilities (like their data quality offerings) with SAP NetWeaver MDM. In addition, expect to see enhancements to parallel processing, high-end performance, and smooth operation — standalone or integrated with your other SAP NetWeaver components.

To learn more about the features and licensing of SAP NetWeaver MDM, please contact your SAP representative or visit www.sap.com/mdm and www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/nw-mdm.

The building blocks of SAP NetWeaver MDM provide many benefits to your system, such as user-centric data access, data and repository management, and integration capabilities.

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Luis M. Orama
Senior Manager
Information
Management Practice
BearingPoint, Inc.

Achieving Efficiency and Effectiveness with Your Master Data
BearingPoint’s Roadmap to an Enterprise-Wide EDM Strategy

Master data is the lifeblood of a business. Information about customers, vendors, and materials is instrumental to decisions on how an organization produces, buys, and sells its goods and services. If the master data in these spheres is inaccurate, various challenges arise:

  • There’s an influx of improper business decisions due to poor data quality

  • There’s a loss of revenue because products cannot be tracked through shipment and returns, or because customer information does not provide visibility into cross-sell and up-sell opportunities

  • You risk noncompliance with regulatory and quality mandates stemming from improper accounting, tax, and customs rules; this can be costly and detrimental to market status

Time for an EDM Strategy

An Enterprise Data Management (EDM) strategy is a business objective to provide accurate and consistent data across the enterprise as to how applications and users define, integrate, and consume this data. By defining an enterprise-encompassing EDM strategy and leveraging SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM), a company can achieve clean, consolidated, and consistent master data that improves data quality and reduces maintenance costs.

BearingPoint consultants have helped companies achieve:

  • Better risk management: There’s a continued and rapid rise in the number of compliance and regulatory mandates, as well as the need for increased transparency in financial reporting in today’s market. BearingPoint recognizes that, without a set of standards around current information management practices, risk management is a critical driver for an EDM strategy.

  • Financial improvements: Companies are becoming increasingly aware that information has tangible capital value that can improve financial results. BearingPoint suggests that the next strategic step is to recognize information as a corporate asset.

  • Strategic planning: A strong EDM program gives organizations the tools they need to turn tacit knowledge into explicit, actionable knowledge. BearingPoint understands that MDM influences a company’s value chain by aligning products and service offerings to customer needs, improving global sourcing and workforce fulf?illment, and spurring growth through better insight into performance.

BearingPoint’s approach to helping clients develop an EDM strategy involves a three-pronged people, processes, and tools mindset that includes governance and data stewardship across the organization, data definition and quality standards, and a suite of tools to manage and maintain the data. So how do you get there?

The 5 Phases of an EDM Implementation

As you embark on an EDM journey, BearingPoint offers five distinct phases to bring you closer to the efficiencies and effectiveness you seek:

  1. Develop a strategy definition blueprint that includes master data and reporting requirements.

  2. Conduct a technology assessment for integration, cleansing, and deployment requirements.

  3. Execute critical roadmap and foundation activities for governance, stewardship, and quality.

  4. Plan for incremental design changes as you roll out functionality in the organization.

  5. Implement in gradual development, testing, deployment, and improvement phases.

These phases arm the organization with accurate and complete data that can support effective, efficient transactional processing and reporting (through a reduction in errors), as well as higher data confidence. Heeding this roadmap along with BearingPoint’s people, processes, and tools approach, your organization won’t be left behind.

To learn more, visit www.bearingpoint.com/sap.

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Jason Childers
Platform Director
SITA CORP

A 3-Tiered Roadmap to MDM Mastery

Recovering from any problem — even a master data management (MDM) one — starts by simply admitting that a problem exists. Before you can fix your company’s data issues and gain the business insights and analytics that you need from your enterprise data, you must first acknowledge that MDM is a problem for your organization.

Diagnosing a Master Data Problem

An MDM problem is often the result of individuals and groups having the motive, opportunity, and means to create and maintain critical master data without governance or oversight. As business leaders increasingly rely on data, they want to create more refined levels of master data that support deeper analysis. This desire motivates information workers to deliver more insightful analysis to key decision makers quickly by creating data in spreadsheets, desktop databases, or other non-enterprise systems.

Managing data in this way exacerbates the problem. Your information workers haven’t created the data in accordance with your enterprise systems and processes, and they now must manually reconcile and massage data to deliver the requested analytics. At low volumes, individuals can keep up with the demand — but eventually, the shortcuts will no longer work.

Taking Control

To take control over your enterprise data and eliminate the silos of data and analysis that diminish your organization’s ability to compete, you have to address the three major components of enterprise information management (EIM). EIM is a set of strategic and tactical disciplines, actions, and policies focused on all of the critical information and data inside an organization, including reporting, transactional, conditional, reference, and master data.

The three key pillars of EIM include:

  • Technology: EIM initiatives usually begin with an assessment of the existing data and technology landscape to identify the initiative’s scope and to highlight some possible opportunities for simplif?ication. The challenge is to avoid making your EIM strategy solely about technology. Technology is critical to efficiently and effectively managing the data, but it need not be the focal point of data management initiatives.

  • Process: Instead, the process of EIM and data governance should take center stage. Organizations must f?irst determine who owns the data, establish real accountability for its quality and completeness, and set in place measurements to assure that the data remains clean and consistent. Also, remember that each data domain might require a varied approach and process — this allows you to move forward with smaller initiatives while pursuing an enterprise goal.

  • People: If people do not adopt your process-oriented solution, even the greatest process or most up-to-date technology will fail. Spreadsheet and desktop database master data solutions are still so prevalent today because those technologies are familiar to the primary users. They do not involve a complicated desktop tool or a new user ID and password for a new Web site. The user just opens the application and starts creating data.

SITA CORP helps its customers find an effective balance of technology, process, and people in their EIM initiatives. Leveraging SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management, SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment, SAP Interactive Forms software by Adobe, and Duet software, SITA CORP helps its customers establish the right combination of best-fit EIM processes and technology while effectively engaging people (through the development of technical solutions that fit the working patterns of information workers).

Together, SITA CORP services and SAP technology can help you control your data and assure long-term EIM and MDM success.

For more information on managing your master data, please visit www.sitacorp.com.

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Nicolas Fink
Senior Manager
Competency Center
SAP NetWeaver
ecenta AG

Danny Thien
Vice President of Solutions
Competency Center
SAP NetWeaver
ecenta AG

Moving to Enterprise SOA? Start with a Solid MDM Foundation

Master data management (MDM) challenges are much more than an IT concern; they can pose hurdles for business operations and processes as well:

  • Fragmented, inconsistent data that resides in silos makes it impossible to reconcile data definitions. In turn, this disconnect prevents smooth communication between heterogeneous systems, which creates barriers in operational efficiencies.

  • When businesses disperse data in multiple, disparate IT systems, the risks of data duplication can lead to inadequate data usage and erroneous business transactions.

  • This disjointed view of master data inhibits accurate analysis and reporting, creates flawed views of business operations, and perpetuates poor business decisions.

To counter the challenges master data issues pose, it is imperative that companies have a consolidated view of their cleansed master data. They can then make a concerted effort in their MDM stewardship to improve operational efficiencies, enable more precise reporting, and minimize risks associated with compliance issues.

MDM is a key enabler for the effective control and use of information assets — it involves reconciling a uniform set of identifiers and attributes for core data objects, establishing a trusted central hub for master data, and synchronizing data sources and consumers. Accordingly, MDM allows businesses to focus on value-adding activities instead of dealing with data conflicts and resolutions.

MDM Is a Key Aspect of Enterprise SOA

MDM is an especially important consideration when pursuing an enterprise SOA-based solution design. Basic requirements for developing service-based composite applications are high-quality master data, reference data, and metadata.1 A common understanding of basic business objects is necessary for executing transactions across application programs that reference these entities.

By aligning the underlying semantics, location, and context of core data objects, you can profile complex data structures into a unified data model. This model can form the basis for standardized definitions of attributes associated with a certain object type.

When you centralize your master data, these model definitions serve as the data dictionary for your master data. Besides holding the latest version of your master data, this data model also provides rules and structures to generate new master data,for a single version of the truth.

With the efficient marshalling of master data, you can decouple MDM processes from application logic and insulate them from risks of data degradation. The result is streamlined development of cross-component, composite applications that help optimize business processes based on enterprise SOA.

How ecenta Can Support You

As an SAP Service Partner, ecenta provides niche consulting worldwide for SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration, SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, and composite application development based on SAP’s enterprise SOA functionality. ecenta delivers flexible, scalable solutions to support your business needs, emulate industry best practices, and share valuable, experience-based knowledge.

Through deploying SAP NetWeaver MDM and implementing IT scenario variants (such as content consolidation, data harmonization, and centralized MDM) and MDM-enabled business scenarios (for example, Product Information Management, Customer Data Integration, and Global Data Synchronization), ecenta can help you lay the foundation for an enterprise SOA-based IT landscape.

ecenta understands how important it is to manage master data effectively. By leveraging SAP technologies, ecenta delivers functionality that helps enterprises conquer these challenges. Visit www.ecenta.com or send an email to mdm@ecenta.com for more information.

1 For more information on enterprise SOA strategy, please visit www.enterprise-soa.com.

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Andy Brown
Global Solution Director
SAP Master Data
Management
Atos Origin

The Journey to Improved Master Data Management
Atos Origin Can Lead the Way

Mastering master data is not an easy task, nor is it a plug-and-play issue. Master data management (MDM) is instead a complex challenge that varies greatly across organizations and sectors; no two organizations view or handle MDM in the same way.

Gaining a clear understanding of where you are today and then establishing a roadmap for MDM are crucial first steps of a successful master data initiative. Atos Origin can help you turn that roadmap into a reality through our tried-and-tested, service-based approach.

Important Considerations for MDM Projects

At the beginning of – and throughout – your MDM journey, you should consider many different aspects and elements inherent in an MDM initiative:

  • System types: In which systems do you store, create, modify, or delete master data? Do you have an SAP, non-SAP, homegrown, or other type of system?

  • Number of systems: How many systems will take part in your MDM initiative? Are these systems likely to change (e.g., due to mergers and acquisitions)?

  • Governance methodology: Who is responsible for data? What are the current processes for creating, validating, authorizing, maintaining, and deleting data? What should these processes look like in the future?

  • Data profiling: What is the current state of data in each system you plan to connect to your master data initiative? What must you fix and how long will it take?

  • Ongoing data quality: What does data quality mean to your organization? How do you measure and monitor data? How do you plan to sustain data quality?

  • Definition of master data: How do you define which data fields become part of your master data repository? Will you manage all of the fields centrally? How do you control data that is partly managed centrally and partly managed locally?

  • MDM scenarios: Do you understand the differences between consolidation, harmonization, central MDM, customer data integration, rich product content management, and global data synchronization? Which are right for you? Where do you start?

  • Program/project phasing: How do you plan to implement your MDM initiative? Can you go for a big-bang approach or do you need to implement in phases?

  • Organizational buy-in: Do you have the backing you need? How do you pitch this to the organization?

  • The goal: What goals do you want to achieve? Is enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) part of your plans? Is global or group procurement an issue?

To help you answer these important questions, Atos Origin offers a range of off-the-shelf services that facilitate different stages of your MDM journey. I’ll highlight a couple of these services:

  • MDM QuickScan: A three-to-five day workshop to help you understand strategic and tactical MDM scenarios, analyze master data TCO, and prioritize MDM scenarios

  • MDM QuickStart: A hands-on workshop to introduce the range of MDM tools and in which you create an MDM prototype specific to your business

More About Atos Origin and MDM

Atos Origin is an international information technology services company that aims to turn a client’s vision into results through the application of consulting, systems integration, and managed operations. Atos Origin is currently taking part in a GDS implementation, an SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM) an SAP NetWeaver MDM implementation, and several classic MDM implementations across the globe. SAP awarded Atos Origin UK ‘Special Expertise Partner for MDM’ status in 2006, and Atos Origin NL received the same honor in 2007. To find out more about our services, please visit www.atosorigin.com.

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