I received a newsletter from Hub Solution Design, an MDM services vendors, and in that newsletter was an invitation for a webinar hosted by Siperian, an MDM vendors, and Hub Solutions. The title of the webinar was, “Top 5 Reasons Not to Master Your Data in SAP ERP”. The invitation said that the webinar will address five questions:
- Why SAP ERP is not the right place to master data
- Why a separate MDM system is required for streamlining business operations
- How MDM and SAP ERP coexist
- The technical attributes, strengths and weaknesses of SAP and Siperian MDM products
- The requirements of an effective MDM system and best practices for implementation
Firstly, these are good questions. I get these questions myself frequently, though the vendor names change for the MDM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. I had to blog on this topic since the questions may not be as clear, or complete, as they might be. Not surprisingly, they are intended to motivate you to attend the webinar (like any good marketer should do) so I can’t fault the vendors for that.
ERP might be a good place to master data. As always, it depends on a number of things. For some firms ERP might be the name given to the unified stack (one data model, one process model) of business applications where master data objects such as customer, product, or location are first created. As such, ERP is the source, and may continue to be. Perhaps IT and the business has no need or desire to disinvest in ERP; perhaps the level of consumption of this master data outside of the ERP domain is very low. The real question for the user is this: where is the right source of master data for you? For some it could be ERP, for others it could be MDM, for yet more, it could be a hybrid approach including multiple systems.
The second question is a very tricky indeed since there are many threads it can take. My favorite for this month relates to the degree to which the data model is optimized for purpose. ERP data models are designed to meet the needs of (mostly) transaction oriented business tasks. Business Intelligence data models, on the other hand, are optimized for data aggregation and dimensional analysis. MDM, independent of any and all consuming applications (such as ERP and BI) has yet another data model. This data model is, or should be, optimized for the purposes of ensuring semantic consistency of master data across any and all other systems in the business. As such, MDM’s data model is a compromise more than anything, such that integration between numerous spoke systems and the MDM hub are timely and effectively operated. So is there such a thing as the “right” or “only” data model for you? Probably not. Should MDM be a separate system from ERP, and any other business application or data warehouse? Maybe.
I wish I could attend the webinar but I cannot due to prior commitments. It should be good to listen, learn, and then brainstorm the issues. Maybe you can….and then comment here.
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