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     Most of us are already well versed with the concepts of Master data and Transactional data. But there is another kind called Reference Master Data which        many are not aware of. This article would explain about the concept of reference master data and the need of governing it.

  What is Corporate Reference Master Data?

  Corporate Reference master data is the master data which is used across the organization by various departments. The data itself is reference data also known as look-up data.

Following are the typical characteristics of the Reference Master Data

      • Simpler structure, rarely changed and less volume of data
      • Centrally maintained
      • Frequently used across several types of master data
      • Harmonized definition and values across corporate group
      • May be defined in external standards
      • Supports Business processes

Examples of such data are codes for countries/languages, material type, currency code, plant, location, payment conditions, commodity codes, Country allocation hierarchy etc.,

An organization could also have a specific reference master data objects based on its typical process

     Need to Govern Corporate Reference Data

Given its wide use across the organization it is vital that the reference master data is kept accurate and complete.

Classic example of Country code changes

Image source: SAP SDN

  The above example shows that it is very much possible to have

    • Different ISO code / same country
      • Codes change over time but are not maintained synchronously in all clients
      • New countries with preliminary codes
    • Systems treat countries differently
      • Separate country or
      • part of another country (e.g. Hong Kong)

Based on the above example, it can be inferred that it is essential to have a governed and harmonized reference master data across a corporate group to avoid breakdowns across distributed business processes, impart corporate best-practice and enable trusted company-wide reporting.

This can be achieved by

    • Making one person/organization responsible (per „reference data type“)
    • Having a well-defined , central maintenance process
    • Distributing same values for use across all business processes

   SAP Master Data Governance

       Identifying the right tool

     To manage the reference master data, a right tool which provides the following features should be used by an organization

    • Central storage of the reference master data in order to allow enterprise-wide access to the data through a single and central point via the tool.
    • Synchronization and distribution of reference data updates including additions across all systems storing or referencing the reference master data.
    • Workflows to help standardize and manage the process of data updates/additions and monitor the status i.e. who is the next person to do something with the data.

SAP Master Data Governance, an Add-on by SAP provides all the above features

SAP Master Data Governance is a natural extension of the business processes running in SAP Business Suite, providing domain-specific master data governance to centrally create, change, and distribute master data.

                                 Image source SAP AG


SAP Master Data Governance enables users to create necessary data classes in Data model and helps in bringing front end governance and control to the Reference master data maintenance process with a simple implementation effort.

    

       

Fig 1.Data model


       It also provides a Floor plan manager based tool for the UI modeling

       

          Fig 2. UI modeling


It provides Rule based Workflows to help standardize and manage the process of data updates/additions and monitor the status i.e. who is the next person to do something with the data. SAP MDG is integrated with SAP Business Rules Framework. This enables customers to define derivation and validation rules in a simple way.


       Fig 3. Rule based workflow


SAP MDG allows replicating the data via Web services. As a result of this, it is possible to replicate the data to both SAP and Non-SAP systems. It also allows auditing and history storage to enable tracking and recording of changes made to the reference data over a period of time. This would help in meeting the regulatory requirements.


The data maintenance screen could be accessed via portal or Netweaver business client

        

        To summarize SAP MDG is an excellent tool which an organization could use to govern and centrally maintain Reference Master data thus resulting in fostering corporate best practices and to avoid disruptions in business processes

   Sources: SAP AG,SAP SCN Community

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