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Master Data – The unsung Hero!

Last weekend a friend and I visited a nice and posh café. We grabbed our seats and placed our orders. Our orders arrived : Chicken sandwiches and café Latte. The sandwich was served on a nice plate with great dressing and some salad on the side. It was probably the most ‘Good-looking’ sandwich I had ever seen. The coffee was served in a big brown coffee mug with a beautiful Latte art. The presentation was so great that my hunger exploded multi fold.

I picked my sandwich and munched the first bite. Somehow the taste of the sandwich didn’t feel right so I took a sip of coffee. It was probably the most disgusting sandwich and coffee I had ever had. The sandwich bread was old and smelled. The chicken was half cooked. Although the salad was very fresh and very good but the main ingredient i.e. bread and chicken spoiled everything. Same was the case with coffee: despite of great presentation and Latte art in a nice fancy mug the coffee beans weren’t good. Long story short: we walked out of café half-hungry and unsatisfied.

Now, you must be wondering why I’m telling you this story.

Well that’s how SAP projects are executed these days. We talk about new age UI & UX and digitalization and what not. But what we tend to forget is if we don’t focus on basics like setting up the master data correctly then we cannot get the desired results. Master Data to SAP is like foundation to a house.

I will highlight couple of instances to showcase why master data is extremely critical especially for SAP PP.

Problem Statement 1: Production planner/material planner often complains that the MRP results are incorrect and thus lead to incorrect inventory levels. Sometimes the planner end up procuring excess materials or at times they couldn’t receive the components from vendor on time

Solution: This happens mostly when the parameters in MRP tabs of material master are not maintained correctly. It is of utmost importance that MRP fields like MRP Type, Lot size, Planning Strategy etc among various other fields are maintained correctly. Special attention should be paid while setting up material master data. Moreover you cannot afford to have a template material master to be copied while creating new materials. Off course you can and should have a template material to help in creating a new material. However you must pay attention to each material master at least on a material type level. Off course it would be better if you can segregate materials into groups with similar parameters.

If material master parameters are setup correctly then the battle is half won. You can be sure to have best possible MRP results and thus optimized inventory levels, high customer satisfaction and reduced costs.

Problem Statement 2: Capacity planning doesn’t work correctly.

Solution: We often hear complains from production planner that capacity planning doesn’t give correct results. Now, there could be couple of reasons for this:

  1. Capacity and scheduling tabs in Work centers are not maintained correctly. You should carefully setup work center with correct capacities and formulas. It would be an added advantage to use shift model in work center for a better visibility.
  2. Incorrect data in Routing. It is extremely important to setup routing times correctly to use production scheduling, capacity planning and activity cost calculation.

If you’re using SAP PM, you should consider PP-PM Integration so that production capacities can be blocked during equipment maintenance.

It is probably impossible to list all possible benefits of maintaining the master data correctly. The above examples just illustrates how your business could benefit by setting up correct master data.

P.S. This blog is not intended to demean the new age UI/UX or Digitalization by any means but rather to focus on the importance of master data for best results.

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