Note: If you are new to SAP Master Data Governance (MDG), you might want to read my blog post on the Enhancement Package 6 version of SAP Master Data Governance first. It provides a general introduction to central governance and distribution capabilities of SAP MDG. This post here focuses on the additional value provided by release 8.0. There is also a blog post on SAP MDG 6.1, a blog post on SAP MDG 7.0, and one on SAP MDG 7.0 SP02 (Feature Pack).
The very successful ramp-up phase for SAP Master Data Governance 8.0 ended on September 30, 2015, and right after that, the software was generally released. This release marks a significant milestone for SAP MDG, since we have expanded the product from its original purpose (provide central master data governance and distribution) to a broader set of use cases (by introducing master data consolidation capabilities). In addition to consolidation, there are many more innovations in SAP MDG 8.0, some of which I will describe in more detail below.
(Note: A presentation on the innovations in SAP MDG 8.0 can be found here.)
Quick recap: What is SAP MDG?
With this new release, SAP MDG is a very comprehensive solution for the complete master data lifecycle. It covers central creation, change and distribution as well as de-central ownership and consolidation. We have lots of customers who use SAP MDG for SAP as well as for non-SAP master data, and for data in SAP systems as well as in many non SAP systems in their enterprise landscape.
We have built SAP MDG as a full application, and not just as a toolbox. Of course, SAP MDG is open and flexible and can manage any kind of master data in an enterprise. But for master data that is to be used in the context of business processes at a later point, and particularly in SAP business processes, SAP MDG provides much more “out of the box”. For example, it already provides data models, validations, user interfaces, processes, and the integration into SAP systems.
Furthermore, customers can enhance the standard model and adapt the processes or validations corresponding to their additional master data attributes. And they can execute master data processes for completely different types of master data by creating their own custom-built domains in SAP MDG. The solution also allows you to distribute the data to every system in which you need it.
Serving the major purpose of providing consistent, high-quality data, SAP MDG fulfills all the promises of a state-of-the-art master data management solution. It ensures data quality either during data creation or change, with workflow-driven central processes and data distribution, or through a very flexible best record calculation and optional data validation during the consolidation process.
I also understand that every company needs data validations that go beyond SAP MDG’s pre-built validation against SAP business logic. These additional validations can, for example, be company-specific rules defined in SAP MDG’s rule framework, or you can make use of any external service call, or use SAP Data Services for fuzzy matching, duplicate detection or address validation.
Depending on your preference, you may run SAP MDG on top of SAP HANA. It also runs on other databases, but we encourage you to run it on HANA. This has considerable advantages, for example for real-time analytics, for high-quality match and duplicate detection using HANA’s similarity-based ranked search, or for optimized data flow and throughput in consolidation. I will describe some additional aspects of using SAP HANA in SAP MDG further below.
While SAP MDG always checks the data quality when data is being touched, you can additionally use SAP Information Steward for periodic checks of the quality of all master data in the repository. This includes all master data that is not being touched but just sits there. SAP Information Steward can provide you with the current quality score, with trends in data quality, and it can trigger error correction for master data remediation in SAP MDG.
What’s new in SAP MDG 8.0?
The most important topic in SAP MDG 8.0 is of course the master data consolidation capability that we added. In addition to consolidation, there are several more innovations in MDG 8.0, and there are some overarching themes that we had in mind when we planned these innovations.
One theme for example is to empower business agility with SAP HANA-based analytics as well as consumer-grade user experience. With this focus, we have added more SAP HANA-based analytics that provide a real-time insight into master data processes and results. And we use the power of SAP HANA’s aggregation capabilities to provide key performance indicators and trend reporting, without the need for pre-aggregation in an information warehouse. We also provide additional SAP Fiori apps for master data requests and approvals.
We also did a lot to strengthen what was already there in SAP MDG for central governance. For example, we have improved efficiency and user experience for hierarchy management. We have enhanced the capabilities for mass data handling in an Excel-like grid layout. And we have extended the data models across various domains.
SAP MDG now also provides business partner screening directly integrated into the change process. You will find very comprehensive screening capabilities in SAP Business Partner Screening to identify denied parties or politically exposed parties. This can be based on hundreds of restricted party lists from authorities worldwide, leveraging the power of SAP HANA. As stated earlier, all of this is now fully integrated into SAP MDG.
Let us now discuss some of these innovations in SAP MDG 8.0 in more detail.
Master Data Consolidation in SAP MDG 8.0
The purpose of master data consolidation is to allow for decentral ownership of master data in an organization while still centrally providing transparency of that master data. Accordingly, SAP MDG 8.0 supports a process where you first acquire master data from decentral sources, then you standardize the master data, identify duplicates, and – based on the duplicate match groups – you create a best record.
Figure 1: Process flow for master data consolidation in SAP MDG
To start the consolidation process, the relevant master data can be loaded from any source. To do so, companies can either continue to use the ETL tools they already use and fill transparent tables in SAP MDG that are then used as “source tables”. Companies can also use SAP Data Services or, for example, Sybase replication, if they like. If they decide to run SAP MDG on SAP HANA, this also comes with built-in mechanisms called SAP HANA Smart Data Integration that can very effectively load data from any source.
During data standardization, SAP MDG can natively use the Smart Data Quality services embedded in SAP HANA for processes like address validation. This is done with an open interface that can also be implemented with any other service provider. The same applies for matching: SAP MDG provides pre-integration against SAP HANA Smart Data Quality for mass matching and fuzzy search, and it provides an open interface for any search provider.
Running SAP MDG on SAP HANA and using its capabilities makes a lot of sense, because these services can run directly on the data in the SAP HANA database. This results in a much higher data throughput than if you had to move the data into a separate solution, for example, for address validation. Some companies are targeting tens of millions and maybe hundreds of millions of records for consolidation. That is why we say, SAP HANA is optional, but SAP MDG’s master data consolidation runs best on SAP HANA.
The best record calculation then runs on the match groups, which means it runs on each group of duplicates found. Before running the best record calculation, users can review the match groups; either all of them, or just those with a lower match score. During the best record calculation, the system can use custom-defined survivorship rules to compose the best record out of all source records in one match group.
This is where most master data consolidation solutions stop. You would then just take the key mapping between the duplicates found and perhaps also the calculated best records, and use this information in an analytical context. SAP MDG also supports these scenarios, but it can do more than that: it can validate and activate the newly constructed records. “Activation” in this context means that the consolidated records can become fully valid parts of a company’s central repository of master data.
In detail this means that if a company wants to validate the best records against business rules, this can be done. For example, if you want to use the result of the consolidation in certain business processes, you can check the data for completeness and correctness. And you can even combine the consolidation with the central governance capabilities of MDG in such cases. For example, you could activate all validated data automatically. And only if the validation fails, you launch a change request in SAP MDG’s central governance to have the data looked at, enriched, and perhaps approved by a person.
Consolidation can optionally be combined with central governance
Figure 2: Combine consolidation and central governance to get data clean and then keep it clean
It is one of SAP MDG’s strengths that it allows the combination of “consolidation” and “central governance”, while you can also just use one of them. With this, SAP MDG supports a lot of different scenarios at companies.
Figure 3: The combination supports many different use cases
For example, some companies might want to keep master data ownership decentrally and only use consolidation continuously to, for example, support some analytical use cases.
A second use case is a company that intends to do central governance for the complete company, but before they can do so, they need to clean up their data. They can use consolidation once for the initial load and duplicate detection, and then compose the best records, from which they will start their central governance practice.
Another company may already have been doing central governance for some time, and then this company buys another company. They will have to merge the master data from the new company with the existing master data from the buying company. And then they will continue the central governance. The advantage of using SAP MDG is that this can be done without disrupting the central governance and without business downtime. You can keep changing entries in the central repository while merging and adding new data.
Another scenario would be a company that just wants to do central governance and not use SAP MDG’s consolidation function at all. Of course, this is also still possible.
What we have also seen at companies is that they want to have some parts of the company under central governance and distribution, while the rest of the company is not ready to do so. They will hence keep decentral ownership of master data in that other part of the company, and will continuously consolidate decentral master data into the central repository to have one complete picture of the company’s total master data. Maybe over time they decide to put more and more of the company under central governance. With SAP MDG, they can smoothly do so by flexibly and gradually moving data ownership to central governance.
SAP Business Partner Screening integrated into SAP MDG 8.0
In SAP MDG 8.0, we have added business partner screening integrated into SAP MDG central governance processes. SAP offers very comprehensive screening capabilities to identify denied or politically exposed parties. This can be based on hundreds of restricted party lists from authorities worldwide, supporting fuzziness, aliases, exclusion terms, initials, addresses, and so on. The detection methods leverage the power of SAP HANA for real-time screening of high-volume businesses in time-sensitive environments. It uses SAP HANA to achieve highly accurate results to minimize the number of false positive hits, which is typically a big issue in all screening scenarios.
The compliance checks are fully integrated into SAP MDG. Screening can run automatically in any change request step. A popup is displayed in case of suspicion. The business user can then decide whether he assumes this to be a positive hit or no hit. And as demanded by our customers, the user can still freely decide how to continue the SAP MDG process, independently of the screening decision.
Figure 4: Business partner screening integrated in SAP MDG’s change request process
In the back office, a screening specialist has full visibility of the SAP Business Partner Screening application for evaluation purposes. All hits are recorded within SAP Business Partner Screening where all decisions can be centrally monitored and reviewed. For each of the alerts, the screening specialist can trigger appropriate activities after drilling down to detail pages with information about detection method, risk score, evaluation result, and parameters of the evaluation.
Contextualized SAP HANA-based analytics
SAP MDG offers a broad spectrum of analytics that will help companies optimize their master data management processes. We call this process analytics. If you run SAP MDG on SAP HANA, you can use the real-time aggregation capabilities of SAP HANA to provide these analytics without the need for pre-aggregation in a business warehouse.
With SAP MDG 8.0, we have enhanced the analytics on SAP HANA to become sensitive to data that is directly associated with the change request itself, covering master data attributes, change documents, and SAP Business Workflow-based information. This results in the following business value: the detailed analysis and drilldown options that are based on master data attributes and their changes and the related SAP Business Workflow data make it possible to identify MDG process issues in large amounts of information in real time. You can then trigger appropriate remediation activities by a systematic analysis of SLA failures, or by collaboration with those in charge for fast correction.
SAP MDG process analytics can now retrieve the following information associated with change requests:
- Object-based change request analytics: This enables scenarios combining the change request data information with detailed, attribute-level information from the objects in the change request. For example, you could investigate the number of change requests for the creation of suppliers and offer a drilldown by purchasing organization or company code.
- Change document-based change request analytics: This allows you to combine the change request data information with change information about the object data contained in the change request. For example, you could show all material-related change requests where a specific plant was involved.
- Workflow-based change request analytics: This now enables scenarios that combine the change request data information with information from the assigned workflow. This could be detailed information on the various work items (like runtime or duration) or information from the workflow container object (like change request step number) as well as information about potential processors of the work items. For example, you could analyze open work items per organizational unit and visualize which unit currently has the most open work items.
Figure 5: Example of workflow-based change request analytics
The analytics described above can also be made available for mobile devices. You can, for example, use SAP Smart Business to provide this insight in the form of small tiles that catch the user’s attention by visualizing a key performance indicator or a trend supported by some color coding.
Figure 6: KPIs and trends shown on a tablet using SAP Smart Business
The next topic also addresses business users with a similar kind of consumer-grade user experience.
Additional SAP Fiori apps for request and approval of master data changes
The Feature Pack for SAP MDG 7.0 already provided several SAP Fiori apps for request scenarios. With SAP MDG 8.0, we have added to those, and we provide the first SAP Fiori apps for the approval of master data changes.
The idea of all these apps is to allow more people in the organization to directly participate in the master data management process from any device and from anywhere. For example, you might want to allow every employee of a company to request master data changes or master data creation from any device. Similarly, the approval apps enable the people in charge to check and approve master data changes, and to do so from anywhere – even when on the road.
Figure 7: Approval of the creation of a cost center (left) or a cost center change showing the intended attribute changes (right)
SAP Fiori request apps are available in SAP MDG 8.0 for Business Partners, Customers, Suppliers, Materials, Cost Centers and Profit Centers. SAP Fiori approval apps are available for Cost Centers and Profit Centers. We intend to add more apps soon, and we encourage our customers to build their own SAP Fiori apps on top of SAP MDG, which some companies have already done.
Enhanced and Simplified Hierarchy Management
SAP MDG 8.0 provides an improved user experience for hierarchy management for custom objects as well as in the area of financials. The user interface now provides a more intuitive access, for example when launching the change process from the search screen. It provides a more efficient single-object processing, because the object changes and the assignment of the object to the hierarchy can now be done in one change request. In addition, the processing of multiple objects and the mass change process have been enhanced and are now more effective. With better transparency along the process of what has been changed in the objects themselves and within the hierarchy, it is now easier for approvers to make fast and informed decisions about the approval of proposed changes.
We have also simplified the execution of analytical reports on the basis of hierarchy information. And in addition, the integrated creation of change requests for mass changes and file upload provides additional efficiency in these processes.
Other innovations in SAP MDG 8.0
The list of innovations in SAP MDG 8.0 is long, and I could fill several more pages writing about them. Instead, I will only mention a few selected other innovations in this last paragraph.
For example, we have made enhancements to multi-record processing: You can now create multiple objects at a time using existing objects as a template. Multi-record processing can now also more intuitively handle texts in multiple languages. Accordingly, the users can now, for example, easily change language-dependent texts and copy or remove many materials in one change request. In SAP MDG 8.0, this can also be done directly from the search result list.
There are many more improvements, like a simplified mass change and mass upload for master data with increased flexibility in the inbound processing. Enhancements were made to the master data domain content, for example, the material data model now has approx. 500 attributes in the standard delivery. We have made many additional improvements to usability as well as easy integration, for example to synchronize audit information between SAP MDG and SAP ERP Financials. And so on and so on…
There is a lot more you can learn about SAP MDG on the SAP Master Data Governance page on SCN.
For example there are some expert session recordings on SAP MDG 8.0:
- Overview: What’s new with SAP MDG 8.0?
- Deep Dive: Enhanced hierarchy management and enhancements in Financials in SAP MDG 8.0
- Deep Dive: Master data consolidation in SAP MDG 8.0
You may also want to have a look at the recently published latest version of the SAP MDG Product Roadmap on the SAP Service Marketplace under => Product and solution road maps => Database & Technology => Enterprise Information Management.
P.S.: Just in case that you haven’t seen them, there are two new videos Introduction to SAP Master Data Governance from a Business Perspective and Consolidation with SAP Master Data Governance.