I have been working in SAP since 1997 and have been a registered user of SDN since its early days. However, I have never really contributed as I have always been a “quiet” surfer for information. Probably, lots of thoughts and ideas to cover and didn’t know how to present them in a sequence!! However, I have always been passionate about sharing my knowledge, thoughts and ideas with my team members and colleagues for many years.
However I now intend to clear my conscience to some extent by contributing to SDN 🙂
‘Process – Data – Systems – People’ Dimensions
Ever since I moved to the SAP NW MDM area (March 2005), what was then considered a very “niche” area (it is still considered as niche) I’ve been completely engrossed with MDM. In my opinion, this is an extremely exciting and challenging area to work in. Infact MDM is just a subset (huge one) of the word called – Data. The only other area is “Process”.
The reason I have mentioned only 2 topics – Data and Process, because they are the ones that actually help run a business besides People and (IT) Systems.
In other words, “Processes using Data (Master and Transaction) are executed within the (IT) Systems by People” for running the business.
The four dimensions, namely; People, Process, System and Data are tightly integrated and must function in unison for any Organization to run their business smoothly.
Although this series of Blogs will emphasize on the “Data” dimension, I will touch upon the other three dimensions, whenever necessary, as we go along.
Let us take a high level look at the four dimensions as shown in the diagram above.
Process – Data
The two dimensions are very closely knit together. So much so that, we cannot think of one without the other. Besides both of them greatly depend on each other. For example; consider a typical Process such as Procure to Pay. The following steps constitute the process:
Purchase Requisition – Purchase Order – Acceptance – Goods Receipt – Invoice – Payment – Reconcile.
Each of these steps can be executed in the SAP ERP application using a transaction. For e.g.; ME51N for Purchase Requisition creation, ME21N for Purchase Order creation, and so on.
When any of these transactions are executed, the data is required. In case of Purchase Requisition, we will need the Material master data, the quantity to be procured, etc. Whereas in case of Purchase Order this will constitute 2 parts viz; master data – Material and Supplier / Vendor and other transactional data such as Quantity of Order, Price, Amount, and Delivery schedule, etc.
If you carefully observe any of such transactions, you will find that 70 – 80% of the data is Master Data and the rest is transactional data. Thus, any discrepancy in the master data will have a direct impact on the transactions and transactional information (for e.g.; Orders being sent to wrong Suppliers, Prices not updated, etc).
I will talk about this “Quality” related issue pertaining to the master data in the subsequent blogs.
System – People
These two are other important dimensions that are critical to any organization. It is absolutely important that the right people have the right access to the right application / information at the right time to be able to execute the processes and thus ensure the smooth running of the business.
The above leads us to the “Governance” aspect and we will also deep-dive into this area in the later blogs.
Before we start off on our exciting journey I would like to highlight a simple technique that I have found useful based on my past experience to “see” things I could never imagine. Over the years in IT I have realized that if we ask “W questions namely; What, Why, Who, When, Where” then we can get a truly 360 degree view of the subject and more clarity. Incidentally, all my blogs will try to raise and answer the “W – questions. These in my opinion, “should be” raised by all the consultants who are “truly” interested in working in the “Data” dimension.
To summarize, we have identified 4 critical dimensions viz; Process, Data, Systems and People that are crucial for an Organization to successfully execute their business.
Since the subsequent blogs will focus on “Data” dimension, the most appropriate title I could think was – “Data to Intelligence via MDM” – A journey through the Universe called ‘Data’. Along the way we will pass through many sub-dimensions of “data” which I refer to as Galaxies.
So buckle up and enjoy the journey. Godspeed.