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SAP MDG and Retail Industry

Hello SAP experts,

This is my first blog (and yeah, I did ask myself a question - why and what took me so long?). But hey, better late than never! This is a humble attempt to embark my journey into blogging and hope to virtually connect to the great minds across the world, exchange experiences and improve.

Right, quickly about me: I am currently working as a Senior Solutions Architect with Capgemini UK. I have worked on wide range of data activities to name a few: master data management, data architecture, data consolidation, data harmonization. I specialize in Master Data Management (MDM) and have spent over 17 years working with SAP MDM Products: then SAP NetWeaver MDM and now SAP Master Data Governance (MDG).

Now that the introduction is off the table, reason I wanted to write this blog is to share the brief experience I had architecting SAP MDG solution for a Retail giant with an intention that it will help those who are either yet to start this journey or have just started. I assume that you as a reader is aware of overall master data management concept, or you are currently practicing SAP MDG or other MDM product. If either of this is not true, not a problem - I hope this blog interests you to explore more about Master data management and SAP’s solution to MDM.

First thing first, to get the terminologies correct, SAP MDG solution offered for retail industry is officially called as SAP MDG RFM (Retail and Fashion management) and is built by SAP partner Utopia (now part of Prometheus Group) and data model is labelled as Article Master.

When we started studying the standard SAP MDG RFM data model, I formed the view that this data model (henceforth called as Article Master), is much heavier (in terms of breadth and depth of data pre-requisite including hierarchies and classifications) than other data models. One can argue that Material master would weigh equally in comparison - looks like another topic for writing a blog! There are so many aspects of Article master data that one needs to study before finalizing “the definition” that suits best for an organization. We spent lot of time understanding with business each entity and attribute that participates in what makes sense to be their article master definition and the potential it has, to become really a “Master” entity and attribute. Article master is made up of number of other master data objects like site master, business partner etc. It was important for to understand these data dependencies and what role they play in a normal business day when a business user is expected to setup new article master. SAP MDG RFM data model offers many attributes as an out of the box feature which helped us set the right context to initiate dialogue with business.

When there was a glimpse that the definition of Article master is coming along well, next exercise was to wrap this all up around Master data process. This wasn’t easy as we were implementing the most intrusive (from business perspective) style of MDM i.e., Centralization. There were so many questions which needed answering such as, departments participating in the article master setup, type of expected governance in the to-be world, data ownership for each of article master entity and or attribute, communication to different stakeholder as the article maintenance process progresses, data and process quality checks to be embedded. For those who knows listing process in retail industry, we spent lot of time finalizing if listing as a process to be owned by MDG system or downstream ERP systems – there are number of parameters you need to consider making this decision. SAP MDG RFM solution offers out of the box standard templates which we used a starting point to finalize the tailored version of business processes including listing.

Remember I said earlier, Article master data model is dependent on additional master objects, imagine now the work you need to do for reference data management. You can sense the complexity, right? Reference data management was another area where we had to invest lot of time. We figured the reference data, which is needed to define article master data, how and from where to source this data, approach for initial migration vs ongoing, which system will be the authoring system for each reference data etc. So many such questions needed answering but SAP MDG RFM data model provided us the starting point to drive such discussions. There are many other topics like reporting, data quality, data migration etc. which also needed sufficient time to be able to architect the tailored solution for our client using SAP MDG RFM.

Overall, the experience was enriching and if you are looking to start this journey with SAP MDG RFM, you are on a wonderful voyage with lots of healthy discussions complemented by the features this product has to offer. However, make sure you do take enough time to arrive at a decision be it data model, business process, data integration, reporting, mass update etc. Keep respectful time for design activities in your implementation plan with right stakeholders involved at the right time in the decision making.

I plan to write series of blogs to share more deep dive experience for each subject area including list of questions you need to consider during deployment of SAP MDG RFM.

Those who would like understand more about SAP's solution to master data management, follow

To access technical information about MDG RFM (along with other master domains) please follow:

Please share any feedback or thought in the comments section of this blog.
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