Your data is a diamond.

May 7, 2012


No I do not mean your data is worth its weight in diamonds, although it could be.
Your data is “shaped” like a diamond.


And a diamond might help you sell to management easier than a triangle.


Ever since PwC published an earlier version of this data hierarchy triangle at the ASUG SIG on governance in early 2000, it’s been used and adapted and has even been included in some SAP Textbooks.


It’s a great picture showing how reference data is the foundation for master data and how master data is much more than just the name and identification attributes of a material, but all the behavioral programming as well. Conditional data (including BOMs and pricing) sits on top of the master data and on upwards to the enterprise reporting at the top.


It is a great picture.


But it is also an awful picture in that it subconsciously leaves one with the impression that Master Data is a much larger object than it is. which This leads to the “industrial inertia" allowing many companies to live with data that is sub-par.


Data that has been optimized locally over the years to create an environment where the data works just fine in each, but from an enterprise perspective is not allowing:


· Production to easily adapt to new plants vs. setting up a new production in plant B to support plant A looks like a new commercialization and not a lift and shift


· Globally identifying materials as the same or in the same family for costing purposes is a well-known issue, but even if you know they are the same from the name, if their set up is localized without any consideration for the enterprise, then global adaptability is compromised.


· This list is all old news


My point isn’t that data is often localized to the point of being a problem for the enterprise.

My next point is we often do not realize how easy it is to correct relative to just massaging the reports after the fact.


Your data looks more diamond like. At least as it pertains to the volume of data that exists and that if you have an issue, would need to be corrected.


Now everyone intellectually knows that Master data is a speck as compared to the transactional data.


It only seems easier to massage the report than to correct the root cause of the transactional data recording or grouping incorrectly.


Problems with reports are rooted in problems with transactions, which are rooted at the Master Data Level. But when this is presented as the triangle it makes it subliminally appear that the master data as being too big to fix.


It’s not.




What if we presented a picture showing master data as small relative to the transactions and reports, we may have an easier time reducing the industrial inertia to address the root causes rather than the ongoing manipulation and re-manipulation every month to get the operational reports to make sense at the enterprise level.


That is not to say that bringing an enterprise point of view to the master data is easy. The most wonderful thing about SAP is that it is a fully integrated ERP. The most miserable thing about SAP is the same integration. Understanding how to unravel the bad and reconnect the dots with the good is about understanding how your business needs to run on a global scale and using your master data to help drive that. It’s not about the master data, it’s about your business.


However, the nice thing about getting master data clean is that it is much easier to keep it clean than to clean. In this case it’s not technology, its business that has the gap to fill. Once the business sees data that supports the strategy, then increasing support for global governance becomes an easier sell.  That is a subject of another blog.


My question for you; “is your data a diamond?”  Or is it still a diamond in the rough?



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