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Recently I started blogging on data migration, first discussing First look at SAP’s Data Migration Solution then my experiences with Data Migration:  Installing Data Services and Best Practice Content.  I will continue to blog on post installation steps, using the provided business content, methodology included with the content, joys of learning Data Services, etc.    In this blog I’ll digress a bit from a discussion of data migration to Information Management.  Data migration falls into the “Enterprise Information Management” topic area.   Since my background is from a process / workflow management perspective, I’ve been having fun learning about what is meant by information management and how it compares to process and workflow management.  (At least how it compares based on my experiences in the process-focused world.)  We have many products in the Enterprise Information Management space, and in this blog won’t go to the level of what tool is what and when to use it – in this blog I really want to stick to a specific discussion of the types of data and information we mean with information management and how that compares to process management.   

Recently when discussing this topic with a colleague I used this image as a basis of discussion on the types of information and data we cover with our Information Management capabilities.  



Since “information” is a pretty broad word, I’ve been trying to understand what we mean when we say Information Management.   Here’s what I’ve learned, the numbers are aligned with the numbers in the screenshot. 

  1. We mean structured data like what we are familiar with in application systems.  Customers, products, sales orders, etc.  All the data that is stored in a central database that is used by the application system.  Of course this includes the ability to manage the master data, cleanse, enforce data quality, as well as the ability to extract, load, and transform the data as required.    
  2. Office documents like word, excel, and other desktop word-processing applications.  This data is stored across the enterprise, on share drives, laptops, much of it not controlled at an enterprise level.  This content may be critical to the application data, and so we need to manage this content with the same importance as the structured data in the database.
  3. Pictures, scanned documents, and other images.  These could be scanned invoices, pictures of products that are sold in a catalog, drawings of products that are being designed and built.  These become part of the content that needs to be managed and related to the structured data when required.
  4. Information that is available in XML format, such as RSS feeds, blogs, and other semi-structure information that is important to the enterprise. 
  5. It might be hard to read in the screenshot, but number 5 reads “The car should self-drive on the highway”.  This piece of information may come from a survey, it might be a comment on a website, and by itself it might not be important.  However, if you are looking at car design over the next five years and 60% of the comments you receive have something about self-driving, then this comment warrants further investigation.  So, information management also includes looking into text we receive and doing some analysis to determine sentiment, feedback, input, or action that should be taken based on comments.  
  6. Number 6 in the screen shot is a list of flights that have landed or are about to land at the Frankfurt airport.   This is meant to represent transient data.  What is meant here is data that is short-lived, or data that is important as it is correlated to other data / information.  For example, if my returns in a certain week are up, and my quality numbers are low over the past three weeks, maybe those two are related, so we can track both and notify if we see a trend that requires investigation.   In the flight example we might want to look at trends at flights departing on time with security level monitoring so we can determine when the security is at a certain level flights can be delayed by a certain percentage of time.   

When we say “Information Management” we mean the combination of traditional structured data and non-structured information.  Our interest is from the moment of creation thru retirement.   The retirement of data and information has the same value as creation.  Once information is no longer needed, it becomes a liability, that could be a legal liability, cost liability, or other liability.   The entire lifespan of the data and information is covered within Information Management.  As we manage all this information, it is critical to have some governance surrounding the management of our data and information, this is referred to as “Information Governance” and you can see it has a role with all the types of information from creation to retirement.

If you’re interested in this topic, let me know and I can publish a blog that maps each of the types of information we cover to the solutions / products that are used for the information and when to use each capability.  

So, how does this compare to process & workflow management?    The connection is closer than I first realized when moving to the EIM solution management team.  At a foundation level, the processes we execute assume the data is good- it is cleansed, it is valid, it is ready to use.  Information Management provides this ‘trust’ in the data.     From the perspective of how they work together, here are some examples we are seeing today:

  • The structured data must be cleansed and there must be a level of data quality for the process.    Greg Chase recently published a Podcast:  How SAP IT Uses BPM and Data Services for Post Merger Data Migration where he covered how SAP used a combination of our Information Management solutions (using Data Services) with NetWeaver BPM for the Sybase acquisition. 
  • When managing the content such as documents, images, there is normally a process that accompanies the scanning of documents, approving, and associating with the business object (for example, scanned invoices).   Historically this has used our business Creating your firstSAP Business Workflow.  
  • The correlation of data  & information that causes an action or intervention will use process & workflow management to ensure the action is taken and to put a process around dealing with the outcomes of trending, correlating information.   Check out this perfect order demo  and defective product demo that were done for Sapphire.  These are done under the theme of “Operational BI”, which includes business intelligence, information management, and business process management capabilities.  


Because the connection is so strong, it makes complete sense for workflow and process experts to look at Enterprise Information Management as the next place to expand their skill-set and knowledge base.     

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  1. Susan Keohan
    Hi Ginger,
    For years I have struggled with data ‘cleansing’ and validation – as these are the key factors that can make workflow go awry – whether the data is migrated or relatively static, it still needs to be ‘good’.  Thank you for sharing, and I will look forward to more blogs on this topic!
  2. Former Member
    Hi Ginger,

    Good one . It was interesting to know the comparison Data and Information mgmt and the workflow .

    Waiting for some more on this topic.

    Best Regards,

    1. Ginger Gatling Post author
      Hi Ramki,
      Ok – thanks – I’ll start a series on “where to start with Information Management” and focus on process, bpx and workflow relationship!


  3. Zal Parchem
    Especially with the terms “data” and “information”.  Some time ago, a rather wise fellow explained to me that “data is a fact” and “data is only information when you can take action on it”.   Surely ties in with your concern of good data (clean, important, etc), because if the data is not “good”, you certainly cannot take good actions or obtain good information…mfG Zal
    1. Ginger Gatling Post author
      Hi Zal,
      I was using data /information more to differentiate between structured and unstructured.  Either way, you have to trust it – just as you mentioned!
  4. Former Member
    Thank you for the explaination on structured and unstructured data.

    In my personal observation, due to the increased data capture methods and economical data retension technologies, organization are keeping significant quantities of data online.

    Can you comment on methodolgies to identify data that should be retired, as well as SAP technology to support that process.


    1. Ginger Gatling Post author
      Hi Sachi,
      Hope you are well!   Regarding methodologies on how long to retain and rules for retirement, our ILM solution manages that.  I believe the rules and recommendations are taken from the legal requirements for each country.  You can set to have records for the US to retire after so many years, Japan, another set, and so and so forth.  I’ve forwarded your comment to our ILM solution manager and he can post a better reply!


    2. Former Member
      Hi Sachi,

      As Ginger mentioned, SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management is our tool designed specifically to manage the lifecycle of data/information in the following 3 scenarios.

      1. Data Volume Management to control database growth through Data Archiving

      2. End-of-Life Data to manage the final retention of both structured data and its related unstructured data using Retention Management.  This includes exception handling for the final disposition, e.g., legal case holds to override the final retention date.

      3. End-of-Life System or System Decommissioning to manage the proliferation of out of date and no longer productive systems due to M&A activities upgrades, etc.  This phase allows for system shutdown while retaining access to the data for audit purposes.   At the same time, it continues to manage the end of life of the data from the decommissioned system.

      Much more detail is available on the ILM pages in the Service Marketplace.  For example, take a look at the Solution in Detail White Paper titled:   SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management at

      You will find an abundance of information, articles and presentations here.

      Best Regards,


      1. Zal Parchem
        Ken – one of the highlighted improvements in SAP Business One (SAP B1) Version 8.8 is the data archiving capability.  That has to be one of the best ideas introduced so far.  Two thumbs up to SAP.  Regards – Zal

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