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Tips from GM on governing your financial master data

This blog summarizes a presentation with Sara Hagopian from General Motors at the ASUG Michigan meeting.

First, I talked about what information management is and the risk of not pursuing an information management strategy. Those points can be found in the Information Governance infographic blog, and the Data Quality infographic blog.

How do you know if you have an information governance problem? People don’t just wake up in the morning dying to implement an information governance solution. Instead, they have many information-heavy initiatives that may keep them up at night.


Instead, you are probably hearing some of the words in this slide. All of these words require effective use of trusted information to be successful. Which—hey—requires an information governance strategy.

What does it mean to proactively manage financial data?

Sara discussed the many requirements on financial data, including the time-based requirements. In addition, financial data is particularly important for the audit department. She also highlights that on-going housekeeping of the data remains important, and that only with these three pillars of maintenance, audit, and housekeeping do you achieve confidence in your data.


GM challenges in managing financial data

Sara outlined the main areas of GM’s challenges: time-sensitivity, frequency and volume, complexity, workflow activities, and control requirements.


GM structured their governance program around the main blocks of Organization & Governance, Ongoing Data Maintenance, Tools & Systems, and Process. Note the gold circles that elaborate on the functions for each of these sections.


Notice that the responsibility for the various financial master data elements is spread across two different groups: corporate accounting and local accounting. However, in some cases (like Profit Center), Local Accounting owns the entity, but the Global CoE maintains the data element. The dispersion of roles highlights the importance of documented policies, automated workflow, and collaboration.


Master Data Governance for Financials

To solve these financial master data challenges, General Motors used Master Data Governance for Financials (MDG-F). Check out an overview of MDG-F here. In summary, MDG-F is an ECC-integrated governance workflow tool for the creation and maintenance of financial master data. It has a single, controlled source of financial data, and includes both a governance workflow and an audit trail.

Below, GM identified the key benefits of using MDG-F on their financial master data.


Sara also pointed out a few reasons of why to use MDG-F instead of just depending on ECC. Her main highlights include better user experience (including drop-down lists, real-time validations, and error message functionality). She also points out features like out-of-the-box workflows for request, processing, and approval processes, and out-of-the-box Edition logic to provide period/time specific effective ranges for master data creates and changes.

Finally, GM liked the services-based approach for the replication of data to ECC, and the option to use it either standalone or embedded within ECC.

Evolution of the governance & implementation model

As we always say, information governance is not a one-time effort. Instead, the governance efforts need to continually evolve. As your governance org solves some problems and automates others, they can expand to new activities. In the case of GM, they plan to evolve this way:


  • Evaluate the extension of the toolset for Customers/Vendors & Materials
  • Utilize MDG-F for data management within test/training systems
  • Evaluate processes for communication between SAP and Non SAP systems

A few other resources for you to check:

How are you managing your financial data, and handling the unique challenges for this type of master data?

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  • This was a very welcomed presentation at the recent ASUG MI meeting.  Particularly the astounding role data governance still has as a core root cause issue in many environments for on-premises as well as mobile computing.  Hat tip to Sara and the GM team for being forward on this issue and providing a nice overview of the MDG-F extension.