Is MDM falling short in addressing Org’s data needs?
We have implemented our master data management solution using customized MDM WDC i.e. coupled with CE as a user interface on top of MDM (7.1SP6) along with CE BPM (7.2SP5). The solution was fit-for-purpose and did the intended job of data integration, governance, cleansing and maintaining single source of truth neatly with WDC providing easy to build UI. The reusable and generic nature of the components ensure independence from the underlying MDM schema and as a result, they are configurable and extendable.
With obvious advantages the MDM solution provided, business further came with ever diverse needs and was looking for SAP MDM as a tool for maintaining variety of data (flat, hierarchies etc.) of the organization – not all of it was master/reference data.
Most of the requirements were pertinent to UI of data when stored in MDM (e.g. enabling hierarchical or tree structure view on hierarchies, having drag-drop) with other few related to MDM solution e.g. check-in/check-out on hierarchies etc. Though MDM and MDM WDC could accommodate some of these requirements, others slightly tricky requirement couldn’t be addressed easily. But as the requirement kept on loading, we felt SAP MDM is bit limited to support them.
E.g. many organizations have huge amount of organizational data in hierarchies. An organization looking for MDM solution, naturally, would like support for all its data i.e. flat, hierarchies etc. We faced few limitations in implementing hierarchies using SAP MDM. The situation demanded tree like user interface. Though WDCs attempts to provide that display, we felt it was bit short on user satisfaction. Also hierarchies in MDM come with limitation that cannot be check-in/check-out, referred only at leaf node (perhaps we can make up for this using internal leaf node, but at the expense of duplication) etc. An add-on component like WDCs or some mature support in WDCs for hierarchies could augur well here. Additionally, main table like features for hierarchies i.e. check-in/checkout etc. will not only bring consistency but make the master data support scope wider.
Another such relative area could be, what-if analysis. Often organization undergoing restructuring or other org level changes of merging / splitting of business units needs to do a lot of what-if analysis. E.g. assuming a scenario of merging business unit A with either B or C, management interested in knowing likely cash flows for unit B and C if merged with A, would be interested in some analysis before committing data. We came across one such requirement, wherein business was undergoing some restructuring activity and wanted to do some what-if analysis on org data before committing it. As we couldnt anything in SAP MDM space to address it, we have to settle for Oracle DRM tool with feeds from SAP MDM. It would have been much easier for customers if there was such support using WDC like components. It avoids them lot of hassle of evaluating other options and also provides solution to adjoining needs under same roof.
We also faced issues in distributing the data from MDM. Once master data solution is implemented, the data should be routinely distributed across functional groups to satisfy their need of master data and for integrity of the solution. Business may need regular / scheduled distribution of master data to other functional group. Though syndicator gives us option of automatic (monthly/weekly/daily…) syndication of repository data, the schedule is too elementary to meet even slightest advance distribution needs. E.g. the automatic daily syndication will keep on syndicating repository data without considering weekdays/weekends. Downstream systems looking to receive data only on weekdays may need to think twice. Of course, we may ask downstream systems to align their needs, but such a small natural extension should be available out-of-the-box.
One may argue saying none of the requirement is related to master data, but, today, enterprises want to get max out of their data, SAP MDM – and perhaps using WDC like components – should extend the support basked to provide for such need. After all, customers will love to have their master data requirement addressed using one platform than keep on adding tools for each new requirement.