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SAP Master Data Governance (SAP MDG) offers governance applications for selected master data domains, all tailored for centralized data maintenance. The applications allow for managing of master data that is ready to use within SAP environments, but also beyond.

SAP Business Suite 7 Innovations 2011 ships enhancements for SAP MDG for financials, supplier and material master data, and introduces the new SAP MDG application for customer master data. It also provides improvements for the MDG Application Foundation that allows for extending the standard content or building governance processes for your self-defined objects.

SAP Master Data Governance

SAP Master Data Governance is a family of process-centric applications that provide centralized governance for selected master data domains based on SAP's standard data models. The applications come with a native integration with the SAP Business Suite, using existing business logic and customer-specific configuration for validation of master data while it is being created. SAP MDG integrates with SAP Business Objects Data Services (DS) for data quality and enrichment. It uses the data quality engine in DS to inform the user about duplicate data sets and uses DS's rich address enrichment features to support users in entering correct addresses for their business partners.

SAP MDG allows designing workflows for the central master data creation or maintenance process. These workflows will typically involve multiple people adding their expertise to complex master data – like one person editing a material's classification information and another one adding units of measurement and their conversions. The workflows also include workflow steps for approval of the changed data.

Until the approval, inactive data is kept in a so called staging area, separate from productive master data, and only after approval it will be posted to the master data tables in the SAP system and distributed to systems that subscribed to these master data changes. Through this, SAP MDG delivers consistent definition, authorization and replication to corporate systems, like SAP Business Suite and non-SAP systems. Through tracking all changes and approvals, SAP MDG supports compliance and a complete audit trail.

What’s the Value for Your Organization?

Did you ever hear your Finance people or your CFO ask questions like:

  • How can I reduce manual work when updating financial master data and at the same time increase quality in my multi-system environment?
  • How can I efficiently and safely execute and track required changes (who changed what, when and why)?

Or did your VP of Procurement ever ask:

  • How can I maximize financial benefits (i.e. discounts, conditions, central contracts) through correct and complete supplier data?
  • How can I improve my procurement decisions, i.e. supplier performance / evaluation, duplicates, spend analysis that falsify my view on my suppliers?

Did the Manufacturing head ever challenge you:

  • How can I establish a “maintain once – use everywhere” best practice?
  • How can I reduce redundant effort to maintain master data, i.e. through avoiding duplicates?
  • How can I accelerate availability of up-to-date master data in my business network?

And your CIO may add that while accomplishing all that, how can you best leverage your SAP investment? SAP Master Data Governance will help you to address all these questions. Let me tell you how.

SAP Master Data Governance Applications

SAP MDG offers you master data maintenance capabilities through a role-based domain-specific WebDynpro user interfaces or through Internet Service Request (ISR) forms. You can access the screens either through SAP Enterprise Portal or through SAP NetWeaver Business Client. In addition to central maintenance, data from external sources is supported. For example, you can upload data into SAP MDG via file or services, and then further process (or enrich) the data in SAP MDG. You can also use the search capabilities to start processing. These include database search, exact or fuzzy search via SAP Enterprise Search, and a fuzzy address search via SAP BusinessObjects Address Services.

Data that is currently in process through so called Change Requests, is stored in a separated "staging area", and is transferred to the active area after approval. The active area can be the operational SAP database
("re-use option") or generated within SAP MDG ("flexibility option"). SAP delivers standard data models and user interface configurations out-of-the-box. The models are based on SAP Business Suite (financial data, business partner data, and material data) and can be extended as needed. Also the user interfaces can be adopted to meet users' needs. Single item maintenance as well as mass maintenance is available.

Figure 1: Illustration of the Master Data Governance process

Data can be validated against certain rules during maintenance. Validation is done against SAP Business Suite logic, wrapped by the Business Rules Framework (BRFplus) and supported by SAP BusinessObjects Data Quality Services (like address verification and completion) or external services (like DUNS numbers). Customer specific validation logic can be added. During validation the system also checks for duplicates – optionally again using SAP BusinessObjects Data Services. Data can be enriched using BRFplus.

The entire master data governance process is flexible and can be adapted and tailored based on defined responsibilities existing in a company across various business units. The underlying SAP Business Workflow is rule based. For example that means that the next step can be derived from results in the rules framework (BRFplus). Besides the actual maintenance and approval, workflows can include steps such as activation, replication etc.

Approved and activated data changes can be replicated to SAP systems (delivered out-of-the-box) and non SAP systems. The replication is controlled by the so called Data Replication Framework (DRF). This provides the flexibility to replicate selected data only to specific client systems by defining filters. It supports peer-to-peer communication as well as replication via a broker (like SAP PI). Replication can be handled via various means (like Enterprise Services, ALE / IDOC, RFC, or File) all control through the same framework. The DRF supports Key Mapping and Value Mapping and monitors replication activities, failures etc. through all channels. Replication can be started manually, or can be scheduled, or can be automatically triggered as part of a workflow. In order to support flexibility in data ownership, some data can be maintained in the SAP MDG hub, other data would be added in the client systems after replication.

SAP Master Data Governance for Financial Master Data

SAP MDG provides governance applications for a broad set of financial master data, these include Charts of Accounts, General Ledger Accounts, Companies and Group Companies, Consolidation Units, Profit Centers and Cost Centers including their hierarchies, Cost Elements and Cost Element Hierarchies.

Figure 2: Creating a Change Request for a Group Account

As mentioned before, Change Requests organize the data changes and the workflow across the various users and they document all changes for auditing purposes. Typically Change Requests are for a single master data object. If you want to synchronize multiple changes, you can cluster them into so called Editions. These allow you to, for example, group all changes for the chart of account for the next financial quarter into one Edition and then to activate all approved Change Requests of that Edition at the same time.

Figure 3: Editions group multiple Change Requests for approval and distribution

All changes are kept in the central system’s staging area until approval. They can then be distributed to operational systems. The distribution is possible via Enterprise Services or file download-upload.

SAP Master Data Governance for Supplier and Customer Master Data

With Innovations 2011 SAP Master Data Governance now also supports governance of customer master data creation and changes. The focus of the first release is on generic business partner attributes, general customer data, as well as address information. For both customers and suppliers, MDG supports search, display, change, and creation of single master data sets as well as mass processing or changes to hierarchies.

Figure 4: Maintaining the master data of a new customer

Again, Change Requests steer the maintenance and approval process of new or changed data, based on a workflow-driven creation and change process for customers or suppliers. And they document all changes for later audits. SAP Business Objects Data Services supports data quality services in SAP MDG such as duplicate check or address validation during the maintenance. There is an option for file upload for initial load scenarios or for example for supplier on-boarding.

All changes are kept in the central system's staging area until approval. They can then be distributed to other systems. The distribution is possible via Enterprise Services or Application Link Enabling (ALE).

Figure 5: Work lists provide information which due changes need the user's attention

SAP Master Data Governance for Material Master Data

SAP MDG allows for central creation and change processes for material master data. The focus so far is on identifying and descriptive attributes of material master including basic data and classification. Again, search, display, change, and creation of single material master data is supported as well as mass processing or file upload.

Figure 6: The system validates the data while maintaining a single material master

As before, workflows and Change Requests document and steer the complete process of maintenance and approval. The non-approved data is kept inactive in the staging area, from where it is distributed after approval into the active data sets and to other systems - typically via ALE or Enterprise Service. As with the other domains, work lists inform users of due changes.

Figure 7: You can access the change requests that you triggered yourself to track their progress

SAP MDG Improvements in SAP Business Suite 7 Innovation 2011

The 2011 version of SAP MDG provides increased usability and flexibility in the Application Foundation for extending standard or creating your own data models, processes, user interfaces, and validations.

Figure 8: A new welcome screen allows for monitoring progress as well as quick access to applications

These improvements in the Innovation 2011 version allow for customized governance processes and improved experience for the business user through task, context, and user specific adaptations. For each Change Request Step business process experts can now define enhancements and checks, by enriching parts of data through assigning an enrichment spot, by skipping unnecessary checks, or by ensuring validations occur by assigning checks. They can also set field properties for entity types and attributes by specifying which fields are relevant, and which relevant fields are required through field properties. Or they can assign a different user interface in addition to the standard one configured for the data model. All this allows a maximum of flexibility on the level of Change Request Steps.

Figure 9: The default screen for changing supplier master data

Figure 10: The same screen rearranged according to users' needs through a quick configuration

In addition to this flexibility at design-time, power users or even end-users can easily adapt the user interface to their specific needs at run-time. For example they could be re-arranging the screen layout or setting default values on selected fields for their most often-used screens. All this is based on the new user interface design paradigm that has been adopted across MDG's master data domains.

The Innovations 2011 version of SAP MDG also provides increased productivity in the MDG Application Foundation for extending standard or creating your own governance applications. Custom adaptations have become even easier through new re-usable entities like Logical Actions and UI Applications, and through improved usability of the Configuration Workbench and the Rule Based Workflow. The Side Panel allows for coding-free extensions of MDG's user interfaces by enriching them with additional content for the end-user. In addition, there is an MDG for Custom Object sample application provided, that will help you to quick start your MDG project.

Data quality capabilities and change request reporting have been enhanced in Innovation 2011. There is improved reporting on the duration of change request as well as their compliance to Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), like maximum processing time. These SLAs can be custom-defined in MDG configuration environment.

Figure11: Analyzing the processing time of MDG Change Requests against Service Level Agreements

As mentioned before the Innovations 2011 version introduces SAP MDG for Customer Data in addition to the enhancements provided for financials, supplier and material master data. SAP MDG for Customer Data in its first release focuses on generic business partner attributes, general customer data, as well as address information. The enhancements for MDG for Financials, Material, and Supplier Data do not only include changes to the content, but also make use of the improved capabilities of the MDG Application Foundation.

In MDG for Financial Master Data there are various improvements. These include, improved data replication capabilities for financial and consolidation master data through ALE as well as Enterprise Services (SOA), and through explicit selection and better transparency of target systems. Managing data across the system landscape is also supported by remote where-used lists. For instance, before creating a change request for blocking a general ledger account, it is possible to check whether this account is currently being used in automatic posting for certain transaction types.

The Innovation 2011 version newly introduces MDG for Customer Master Data, but also for MDG for Supplier Master Data it provides several improvements. For example, the application has incorporated the benefits of the enhanced MDG Application Foundation which allow for greater flexibility in the governance process, through step-dependant user interface configurations, data checks, enhancement spots, and field properties, as well as improved user experience through the new user interface design paradigm and through task, context, and user specific adaptations. In many cases where ABAP coding would have been necessary before to achieve this level of flexibility, now in Innovation 2011 this can be done just by configuration.

Improvements in the Innovation 2011 version of MDG for Material Master Data include better support of the Material Classification, and integration into the Data Replication Framework (DRF) now also for material master data. ALE Audit can be used to update key mapping information in MDG. Default SAP Business Workflow templates are provided in addition to the existing rules-based workflow. In addition, the before mentioned benefits of the enhanced MDG Application Foundation for greater user interface and process flexibility have been incorporated.

We plan to further extend the standard scope of the domain-specific SAP Master Data Governance applications with the next releases of SAP MDG in the coming years.

SAP MDG Optionally Integrates with Other SAP EIM Components

As mentioned before, SAP BusinessObjects Data Services (DS) supports SAP Master Data Governance with data quality services, duplicate prevention, validations and data enrichment. This helps to prevent creation of duplicates early and embedded in the process for increased effectiveness and efficiency. In SAP MDG this can be done with very high detection quality using either SAP Enterprise Search or Data Services. Also Tax Jurisdiction Codes can be automatically added re-using existing interfaces or providers. Address enrichment is supported through checks and selection lists based on the content provided by Data Services. You can find more information on the Data Services site on SDN.

SAP MDG can also be complemented with the new SAP BusinessObjects Information Steward for continuous monitoring of master data quality in all relevant systems. Erroneous master data records identified by Information Steward can then be corrected in SAP MDG. You will find additional information on the Information Steward site on SDN.

As laid out in detail above, SAP Master Data Governance focuses on comprehensive master data ready for use in SAP applications, through ready-to-run governance applications for specific master data domains. In addition, the MDG Application Foundation allows for custom-defined master data objects, processes, and user interfaces. SAP MDG provides pre-built validation against SAP business logic and customer's configuration settings, and can distribute master data to SAP and non-SAP systems. You can find more information on the SAP Master Data Governance site on SDN.