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Applies to:

SAP MDM 7.1

Summary:

Product Master Data Management is a key component of Information Management solution. Organizations across various Industries are initiating Digital Transformation Programs to support achieving business objectives and growth. IT landscapes are becoming complex as numerous applications are being deployed in the applications landscape. It puts critical requirements on Product Master Data Management. Typically PLM is the system of author for Product Information and PIM as system of reference along with product information enrichment. Ideally it is expected that PLM push quality information to PIM to be enriched further for further syndication to other downstream systems. Although there are instances where PLM also demands enriched and cleansed product information back from PIM. This white paper discuss through illustration as how this PLM-PIM communication is handled from PIM perspective using SAP MDM.

Author: Ajay Vaidya

Company: Tata Consultancy Services

Created on: 20 December 2014

Author Bio

Ajay has been associated with Tata Consultancy Services (world-leading information technology consulting, services organization). He is handling the responsibility of Head of Product MDM Practice in TCS.

Context:

Product Master Data Management is a key component of Information Management solution. Organizations across various Industries are initiating Digital Transformation Programs to support achieving business objectives and growth. IT landscapes are becoming complex as numerous applications are being deployed in the applications landscape. It puts critical requirements on Product Master Data Management. Typically PLM is the system of author for Product Information and PIM as system of reference along with product information enrichment. Ideally it is expected that PLM push quality information to PIM to be enriched further for further syndication to other downstream systems. Although there are instances where PLM also demands enriched and cleansed product information back from PIM. This white paper discuss through illustration as how this PLM-PIM communication is handled from PIM perspective using SAP MDM.

Managing information integration is a challenging aspect. It is even more challenging when it is required to do “two-way” communications. Due care has to be taken while designing the solution so that it should not corrupt the product data accidently.

Communication between PLM and PIM

Typically when PLM is present in the solution, it becomes the author of the Product Information. PLM orchestrates the process of physical Product creation through collaboration with various stakeholders and designing systems.

Following diagram illustrate normal scenario of PLM-PIM integration. PLM starts the Product creation process (more common for manufacturing Industry). At the end of the Product creation process, PLM push the Product information to PIM. PIM further enrich the Product information considering the various channels and downstream systems (corresponding to various functional units like billing, customer interface, logistics etc)

Typical PLM-PIM.jpg

Product MDM Design for PLM-PIM Communications

It is not recommended to have two way communications between PLM and PIM. Therefore as far as possible it should be avoided. But if it is absolutely necessary for PLM to receive enriched and cleansed Product information from PIM, then solution has to be designed in such a way that two way communication does not create a recursive communication loop between PLM and PIM.

There is no “The Correct” solution. There could multiple ways to handle to the two way communication. Following diagram illustrates one way to handle this two way communication scenario between PLM and PIM.

PLM-PIM Solution.jpg

Following aspects are considered the Product information flow:

1)     Separate out the identity of Product Information coming from PLM and other sources. Identify the source of Product Information

2)     Identify the trust factor on PLM Product Information. For instance, not all attributes that are coming from PLM are to be trusted and move to PIM. Only selective attributes that are core physical Product characteristics and has high confidence of information quality are to be copied to PIM.

3)     PLM to subscribe for Product publish from PIM and take in selective attributes.

4)     PLM not to publish Product Information back again to PIM if the feed has come from PIM for the specific update to Product Information.

Following section describes point ‘1’ and ‘2’ as how it is taken care in SAP MDM. SAP PLM is out of scope of this white paper and hence not illustrated here.

Enabling PLM-PIM two way communications in SAP MDM

This section illustrates one way to configuring SAP MDM to enable PLM-PIM two way communications.

Following diagram describes the various SAP MDM components configuration. Subsequently each component configuration is described with further details.

SAP MDM Components1.jpg

Element Description
Product

Product Entity

Uniquely identified by Product ID

Name and Description are standard identifying attributes

Width, Height and Breadth are defined by PLM

Base Cost and Base Price are enriched by PLM

PLM Product ID identifies if the specific record corresponds to PLM feed or primary Product record

Associated Product is applicable for PLM feed record only. It associates primary Product record with PLM product record

Import – PLM Feed Data

This is the automated import comes from PLM. PLM sends the attributes that PIM is interested in (width, height and breadth). It can also send redundant attributes like Base Cost. PIM ignores Base Cost information as it should be enriched by PIM and not by PLM. Such redundant attributes are ignored by PIM. While import, PLM Product ID is used to identify unique record in “Products” catalog.

This import is started as soon as PLM feed data is available in “Ready” folder of the “PLM Feed Data” port

Workflow Workflow is started on import of “PLM Feed Data” and update to PLM feed record only. Workflow triggers the Syndication (Port PLM Data) to export only necessary attributes and ignore redundant attributes. Therefore in this case only width, height and breadth attributes are export and Base Cost attribute is ignored.
Syndicate – Port PLM Data This Syndication picks only necessary attributes out of PLM feed and create a separate exported feed to “Products” main catalog. This syndication also extracts the associated primary Product ID and inserts into the export. This is necessary to identify primary Product record and do the merging.
Import – Port Product Import This is the automated import. As soon as Syndicated file of port “PLM Data” is available in “Ready” folder of port “Product Import”, the import starts to Product catalog. It matches primary Product record using the Product ID attribute present in the imported data. Upon successful matching of Product record, it copies only width, height and breadth data from the imported feed.

SAP MDM Configuration

SAP MDM Console defines the company “ABC Company” and “Products” catalog along with associated hierarchy.

C1.JPG

Create “port” for :

1)    Inbound port for importing Product Master Data coming from PLM. The imported data goes to the “landing” row in “Products” catalog associated with PLM feed source. All information coming from PLM (in the scope of Product master data) is imported.

2)    Outbound port for exporting Product Information from “landing” row along with only selective attributes. Redundant attributes are ignored.

3)    Inbound port for importing the selective attributes that are exported by outbound port ‘2’. This data is imported to primary Product record in “Products” catalog.

Port: Inbound – Product Import

As illustrated in following diagram “PLM-Feed-Data” port is defined for ‘1’, “PLM Data” port is defined for ‘2’ and “Product import” port is defined for ‘3’

For all the ports above, for example, “Delimited Text” format is used.

C2.JPG

“Product import” port is defined as Inbound with Delimited Text format with “,” as separator and “Automatic” as processing type. Automatic processing type enables auto import to SAP MDM. As soon as specific format file is available for import in “Ready” folder of the port, SAP MDM automatically imports the PLM feed data.

Port: Inbound – PLM Feed Data

C3.JPG

“PLM Feed Data” inbound port is defined to import the selective attributes out of PLM Data feed. Format is again “Delimited Text” with “,” separated. Processing type is set as “Automatic” for SAP MDM to automatically import the file.

Port: Outbound – PLM Data

C4.JPG

“PLM Data” port is defined as outbound port to export the selective fields that are received by PLM. Fields / attributes that are authored by PLM and with having high quality data are considered for coping to PIM “Products” catalog main record.

Import Map: For Port PLM Feed Data

Corresponding to these ports, Import and Syndication mappings are define.

IM2.JPG

Map is defined as shown above for “PLM Feed Data” port. The map takes in the flat file “Delimited Text” form that comes from PLM. (Note: for the illustration purpose flat file format is used. XML format could be used as standard mechanism). Source data is mapped to a row in “Products” catalog corresponding to PLM data source.

IM3.JPG

Matching identification is done based on the “PLM Product ID” value in incoming information and corresponding “PLM Product ID” in “Products” catalog record. Action is set to “Update (All Mapped Fields)” for the match based on “PLM Product ID” matching.

Import Map: For Port Product Import

IMP1.JPG

Map is defined as illustrated in above diagram for the port “Product Import” to import selective attributes that has come from PLM. The selected fields are Breath, Height and Width. These are the engineering attributes and for the sake of example are perceived as high quality information that comes from PLM. Therefore these attribute values are copied to the corresponding primary Product record in “Products” catalog.

IMP2.JPG

Product information matching is done based on the “Product ID”. Action is set to “Update (All Mapped Fields)”. Therefore Breadth, Height and Width attributes information is copied on to the matched PIM record based on “Product ID”.

Syndication Map: For Port PLM Data

SD1.JPG

Syndication map is defined for port “PLM Data”. This map picks width, height and breadth attributes from PLM data row in “Products” catalog. Also it picks “Product ID” from “Associated Product” information that is maintained as part of the PLM product record. PLM product record maintains relationship with the primary Product record in “Products” catalog.

SD2.JPG

In order to make the mapping for syndication, destination items need to be defined as show in above diagram.

Workflow

There is one workflows defined.

1) PLM Feed: This workflow is used to do automation of selective attributes export as soon as PLM feed data is updated in “Products” catalog

W1.JPG

Workflow “PLM Feed” is defined to take in Product data provided by PLM and generate automated export of selective attributes to be consumed later. Trigger action has “Record Import” as one of the valid criteria. Auto launch is set to “Immediate” so that automatic launch could happen without manual intervention.

W11.JPG

For illustration purpose, workflow is kept at simple level. It has two steps. The “branch” step checks if the current updated record in “Products” catalog is due to PLM Feed or if primary Product record is updated. If it is not from PLM Feed, then workflow goes to “stop” stage and ends. But if it is from PLM feed, then next “syndication” step is executed. Syndication step export the selective attributes from PLM feed data.

Summary

As far as possible, if not critical, two way communication between PIM source and PIM should be avoided. But if it is necessary in some cases like PLM-PIM communication, proper care should be taken to  filter and check the information flow between then in both direction. If proper checks are not deployed, it may lead to Product data corruption and at times PLM and PIM can go complete out of sync.

Related Content

SAP MDM Console Guide

SAP MDM Data Manager Guide

Key Capabilities of MDM

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