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SAP MDM Functional Consulting

SAP MDM Functional Consulting

An Approach Paper

By Shahid Noolvi

Table of Contents


          1. Abstract. 3

  1. 2. SAP MDM Functional Consulting.. 4
  2. 3. The Problem Statement and solutions considered.. 5
  3. 4. Summary/Conclusion.. 7
  4. 5. Reference.. 8
  5. 6. About the author.. 9
  6. 7. Glossary.. 10

1. Abstract

      The Objective of this White Paper shall be to help Client companies, IT service providers, project managers and SAP MDM Implementation team on the roles and responsibilities of an SAP MDM Functional Consultant and how it would help in long term to have a very efficient Functional Consulting done at the time of implementation irrespective of domain and technology. I often hear people asking to Master data experts “are you MDM technical or functional?” This question always tricks me as not many companies even think of hiring a SAP MDM Functional Consultant at the time of implementation.

An SAP MDM Technical Consultant would be the one who deals with all stuff as extraction of data, and operations in console, IM, DM & SM.

The Work of an SAP MDM Functional Consultant shall actually begin much before the implementation of masters is decided. The Functional Consultant firstly depends on Master data object, and it must be one who knows master data from domain and system perspective irrespective of technology.

For Example: for Material Master and Vendor Master Object it can be MM consultant for Customer master object it can be SD Consultant.

Majority of the IT managers are concerned about the maintaining their existing systems and their process colleagues are focused on business value, both look at the bottom line and the time to deliver promises. The MDM projects we start only go as far as consolidating and harmonizing data. To centrally manage data you have to have concrete business rules, this takes a long time, effort and expense. With another system to maintain and support, no quick wins to show off the project to date was viewed as an expensive data cleansing exercise and goes on hold. Majority of these happen due to lack of proper consulting and approach towards the implementation of the project. A Technical Consultant may provide solutions with respect to consolidating and harmonizing data, these are integral part of the MDM application capabilities. However, when it comes to the wider aspect of managing the master data centrally, strong understanding of the business processes and why, where and in which application, which part of  the master data object is desired and required has to be understood before thinking of providing a solution.

For E.g.: In telecom Industry, the billing applications, may not exactly require the banking information of the customer, where as the same is very much required in the commission disbursement system and also the ERP system.

The ERP Application used for day today transactions may need more than just master data information to be created at the time of creation of master data.

For E.g.: Maintaining J1ID table for the tax related data shall not be mandatory at the time of material creation however if not done may hamper PO creation process as the proper tax calculation may not be taken care in the PO 

2. SAP MDM Functional Consulting

The SAP products that are doing the best in today’s market are either absolutely essential to business function (like financials) or they offer an immediate, tangible benefit (like ESS in HR or BI that results in better reporting). Perhaps for MDM the challenge is that companies don’t generally think of it in terms of rollouts that could gain ROI momentum for something bigger. They tend to see MDM as an overhaul of there data, and that is where the buy-in gets to be more of a challenge. This makes the need for MDM consultants to understand the business process and master data of the client company before the implementation.

An MDM project implementation must include guys who understand the business landscape fully and correctly as well as study the business masters involved in the project. The Functional Consultant shall be responsible for this and must specifically be looking in to this area to understand how the functional requirement maps with the MDM repository.
Blue printing and designing & modeling will be taken care by the Functional Consultant of master data along with a person who will design the repository in real time. The SAP MDM Functional Consultant is responsible for interacting with senior business and IT client contacts to provide functional expertise. This role will drive Master Data Strategy, Data Governance/Standardization, Master Data Process Design, High Level MDM Architecture and the Implementation Roadmap defined by the business case.

Testing is another phase where the MDM Functional Consultant would be required to play a major role. Every aspect and field that has been decided to be included in the MDM Application needs to be tested for integration, migration and performance, while these aspects can be tested by the technical consultant, the functional consultant adds value to check whether the master data created actually providing proper data across systems and transactions are smoother with the new approach of master data creation.

3. The Problem Statement and Solutions Considered

Master Data Management, more than an application we implement a concept or a process change. Whenever there is a new application being implemented, the team includes the functional expertise in the area and also the technical team with the knowledge of the application for successful implementation of the project. MDM being an application on the SAP NetWeaver Platform the application since its introduction has been tagged as a technical implementation. However many managers now understand that MDM implementation is more process oriented than only the tool that is used by implementing MDM. SAP regardless to its marketing has been able to portray more advantages by use of its application in the field of MDM. As we discussed earlier, MDM is more of process oriented implementation, the understanding of the Master data and its need in the business processes becomes very important. The functional consultant plays an important role in the business blue printing, process study, process alignment and the implementation of all these through the application.

Having understood the problem of MDM being categorised as an tool for technical implementation only, let us also understand as to why the need has been overlooked by majority of the customer and the impact of the same.

We discussed that SAP MDM is a part of NetWeaver component. Let us try to understand what is SAP NetWeaver? Let us have a look at Wikipedia’s definition for SAP NetWeaver:

“SAP NetWeaver is SAP‘s integrated technology computing platform and is the technical foundation for many SAP applications since the SAP Business Suite. SAP NetWeaver is marketed as a service-oriented application and integration platform. SAP NetWeaver provides the development and runtime environment for SAP applications and can be used for custom development and integration with other applications and systems. SAP NetWeaver is built using primarily the ABAP programming language, but also uses C (programming language), C++, and Java EE. It also employs open standards and industry de facto standards and can be extended with, and interoperate with, technologies such as Microsoft .NET, Java EE, and IBM WebSphere.”

SAP NetWeaver includes SAP MDM, SAP EP, SAP BI, SAP MI, and SAP IDM. This may have added more to this belief that MDM is a technical application more like the other NetWeaver modules of SAP. The fact that MDM cannot be implemented without functional understanding of the processes, business impact of master data and also the application is ignored here. There can be serious impact of not having understood MDM as a concept. Master data management is more than just consolidation, harmonisation, and synchronisation of the master data. The correct understanding of whether the data actually has to undergo all these processes is a challenge. Apart from this cost can also be considered as one of the reasons.

For E.g.:- The Technical team can generate a report to enable users understand duplicate records in the existing system, however how to arrive at the conclusion that a field has to be included in the strategy for identifying the duplicates is the true challenge. Based on industry the fields for different master data objects may change, identifying this requires in depth knowledge of the industry and master data objects in question.

Master data management can help an enterprise to reduce costs, and can result in clean and efficient data that better support business processes and key requirements, such as meeting compliance standards. But getting master data management software up and running without exactly understanding the purpose can actually end in improper handling of master data. Looking at the example above, we have understood how the identification of duplicates be handled with help of a functional consultant, without which we may be actually identify duplicates with the wrong set of fields which can have huge impact on the business, this can be serious as data loss, as majority of MDM applications look forward at erasing duplicate entries or merging them into one entry.

Now we have understood the problem and looking at the solution for the same, we need to apply certain best practices that are to be implied during the SAP MDM project implementation. To begin with let us try to understand what all are the basic capabilities to be possessed by the functional consultant. The functional consultant role will be to drive Master Data Strategy, Data Governance/Standardization, Master Data Process Design, High Level MDM Architecture and the Implementation Roadmap defined by the business case. The consultant shall be highly involved in a mix of client advisory, quality / health check, management of 3rd party vendors and management of senior stakeholders. The functional consultant is a client facing role and shall require highly intelligent and articulate individuals. The consultant will also have to train the end user and make them understand why the organization has undergone this process change and what the benefits are for the same. Documentation is also a very important part of a project which has to be completed by the functional consultant. Apart from these areas once the actual project implementation begins, the SAP MDM Functional Consultant shall be capable enough to do the data modeling, prepare the data flow diagrams, high level solution architecture has to be defined by the SAP MDM Functional consultant. Other Responsibilities shall include conducting Implementation Analysis in respective area, Deliver high level System Requirements and Functional Design, and work with Test Manager to define appropriate levels of testing, work with Technical Consultants to agree Technical Designs, Works with Security to ensure appropriate roles built.

To address the issue related to costs, a single functional expert, from the area of SCM who is familiar with the Master data objects and process related to SCM shall be the best possible option for this particular role. Other attributes shall be evaluated based on experience and the desired position.

Client organization must be specifically aware of what they intend to implement and based on the need IT managers can put forward consultants with appropriate knowledge set. The functional consultant shall be more of an advisory help for the client to understand what actually can benefit the organization and whether a master data object needs an external application to handle the same.

4. Summary/Conclusion

There is a clear purpose to include the Functional consultant in every implementation or support project. MDM is no exception for this. Being more of a technical module the need has however been minimized or we can use the word ignored. The discussion on this paper shall make the decision easier and justify the need of an SAP MDM Functional Consultant to analyze the impact of MDM on the Master data object creation process, its need and implementation. Training to the end user and the testing of the application add to the purpose. Proper data modeling and good solution architect during the implementation will help the organizations to reduce the cost of maintenance and enhance the use of the product to its core.

While we say for Material Master and Vendor Master Object the MDM Functional Consultant can be MM consultant for Customer master object it can be SD Consultant, a SCM Process Consultant who has expertise on the Processes for the Procure to pay process can take lead for the task for all the master data objects. Moreover in today’s competitive environment, we can also find Techno-Functional (A Functional Consultant trained on the technical tool capabilities and configuration) consultant to achieve more optimum productivity.

5. Reference

6. About the author

           Shahid Noolvi, A MBA graduate trained on SAP MM and SAP MDM, with 4 years of experience is SAP Project implementations in the areas of SAP MM and SAP MDM. Shahid has work experience in SAP CoE Team for a Indian Telecom Operator, has support experience to the SCM Team in all SAP transactions, handling Change requests and training to the end users for new processes implemented.

Shahid Noolvi is graduated in Company Secretaryship from Karnatak University Dharwad, Post Graduation in Masters of Business Administration. During his tenure with the corporates he has gained professional expertise in SAP Functional modules for Materials Management and SAP MDM areas and has been thus very efficient in handling business requirement.

Shahid has a professional expertise in the areas of SAP Project Management, SAP MM Module, SAP Netweaver MDM, SAP TAO, SAP RWD Documentation tools and he is also certified for Six Sigma Yellow belt and Green Belt project implementations

Looking forward Shahid intends to be moving into the new modules from SAP like the SAP GTS platform and work extensively in the area of Customer Consulting and Solution Architecture positions.

In his tenure with the earlier company Shahid has been awarded with the Award of Appreciation for Solution Design and developments during GSM Roll out activity for the telecom major. Shahid has also been awarded with Tata Innovative Team Leadership Initiative Award for Innovative Ideas for cost saving in the South Region.


7. Glossary

IT – Information Technology

SAP MDM – SAP Master Data Management is a tool provided by SAP to Manage the Master Data of the organization, it includes both SAP and Non SAP Master data.

IM – Import Manager is a client available with SAP MDM, this is used to import data from external sources into MDM.

DM – Data Manager is a Client where the actual data is being managed

SM – Syndication Manager is a client available with SAP MDM, this is used to Export data from MDM into external applications.

ROI – Return of Investment

ESS – Employee Self Services is an application with SAP Enterprise portal where in the employees can manage there leave, attendance, perform other employee related activities.

CoE – Center of Excellence is the team formed to implement manage or analyse projects.

SCM – Supply Chain Management handles the Procurement to pay process in the organizations.

J1ID – it is a table in SAP where the Excise duty information is maintained visa-vis a Material

PO – Purchase Order is a document in SAP created to procure orders.

SAP EP – SAP provided Enterprise portal

SAP MI – SAP Mobile interface

SAP IDM – SAP provided Identity Manager

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Shahid,

      Thank you for giving good article to understand the difference of functional and tecnical consultant.