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May the 19th be with you! May 19th marked a great day for our SAP MDG customers. After an entirely overbooked and extremely successful Ramp-Up that started in November, SAP MDG 7.0 was released for general availability. In addition, SAP Master Data Governance 7.0 SP02 (Feature Pack) was released to customers on the same day, and marks the new go-to release that from now on everyone who is  planning to install SAP MDG should consider.

The MDG SP02 (Feature Pack) is very easy to consume. Similar to SAP MDG 7.0, it can be installed on top of Enhancement Package 6 for SAP ERP 6.0 as well as on top of Enhancement Package 7 for SAP ERP 6.0. For existing installations of SAP ERP 6.0 EhP6 or SAP MDG 6.1, this means that you don’t need to upgrade to any higher Enhancement Package, but can just upgrade to SAP MDG 7.0 SP02 in that system.

What’s new in SAP MDG 7.0 SP02 (Feature Pack)?

The Feature Pack builds on SAP MDG 7.0. With that release, we firstly enabled faster search with SAP HANA, duplicate detection, cleansing and matching. We secondly provided better usability for all standard and custom-defined master data objects, and thirdly, we delivered a more flexible foundation for higher business efficiency and refined process control.

In addition to that, the Feature Pack now provides a further improved user experience and easy access for business users, for example, by offering device-independent SAP Fiori apps for master data request scenarios and real-time insight into governance processes by enabling “smart business” KPIs.

SAP MDG Fiori apps for master data requests

SAP Fiori apps enable request scenarios for multiple master data domains like Business Partner, Supplier, Customer, Material, Cost Center, and Profit Center. Business users can access these apps from their device of choice. They will then enter some basic data, optionally run a duplicate check to see if the master data already exists, attach supportive documents to their request as needed, and submit their request. This will trigger the creation of an SAP MDG change request, which is forwarded to the next person for completion or approval.

Figure 1: SAP MDG Fiori app that allows business users to request a new cost center

SAP Smart Business for real-time insights into SAP MDG process KPIs

The use of SAP HANA is optional in SAP MDG 7.0. However, if you decide to run SAP MDG on top of SAP HANA SAP MDG uses SAP HANA’s capabilities, for example, for duplicate-detection and similarity-ranked search (for more details, see my last blog post on SAP MDG. 7.0). You can also make use of HANA being an in-memory, column-based database, and benefit from this in a multi-attribute drill-down selection that allows you to filter and analyze the intrinsic structures in your master data.

In the Feature Pack, we provide additional HANA-enabled values allowing for easy access, insight, and follow-up actions for the business. Since SAP HANA allows for fast access to aggregated data across multiple data sources, we enable fast calculation of key performance indicators, for example, to analyze the quality of SAP MDG’s governance process execution. This can be done to present the information in a Smart Business dashboard for real-time insight, and then to allow for follow-up and issue resolution.

The appropriate Smart Business content can be configured based on customer-defined HANA views. Examples of such key performance indicators include: the total number of change requests, the number of currently open change requests, change requests with the status final approval, long-running change requests that are still open, change requests with an exceeded processing time compared to an SLA, overdue change requests compared to due dates.

Figure 2: Key performance indicators in SAP Smart Business showing process quality in SAP MDG

Improved user experience: highlighting changes and the undo / redo feature

The main purpose of the Feature Pack is to improve the user experience. Let’s look at one example in more detail: the highlighting of saved and unsaved changes. If you switch on this new feature for end-users, the system displays saved and unsaved changes in two different colors on the SAP MDG user interface.

When you create a new object, the system highlights all unsaved changes in a certain color. If you change an existing object, the system also highlights unsaved changes, but in addition, it also highlights already saved changes in a second color. These are typically changes that were made by a different person earlier in the change request process, or changes you made yourself, but that have already been saved. “Changes” in this context refer to those values on the screen that would change a master data attribute compared to the last approved version of the master data – that is, compared to the “active” master data in SAP MDG terms.

Of course, this feature also works in conjunction with SAP MDG’s editions. If you change an edition-based object, for comparison. the system uses the active value either from the validity period the change refers to, or from the previous validity period. In case the object did not exist before the validity period the change refers to, or if the object was deleted in the previous validity period, the system highlights unsaved changes, but does not highlight saved changes.

The system also highlights table rows that refer to changes you can only see when navigating from a table row to the details of a dependent entity. It also allows you to distinguish new rows from changed rows in a table.

When you move your mouse over a highlighted field, the tooltip of the field displays the previous value. If you change a value several times before saving it, the tooltip displays the active value and the last saved value.

Figure 3: Highlighting saved and unsaved changes in two colors and displaying previous values in the tooltip

Another example of improved user experience is the new undo / redo feature. When you are processing a change request, the SAP MDG system records all your actions. For this, it collects exactly those actions in one “undo” step that are made in the web applications between two client/server roundtrips. Each of these steps carried out since you last saved the object can be undone. You can undo steps until you save or cancel. After having used the undo feature, you can use “redo” to recover your actions.

Figure 4: New undo / redo feature allows users to take back their proposed changes step by step

Other usability improvements

There are further usability improvements provided with SAP MDG 7.0 SP02. Let me just mention a few of them briefly. SAP MDG for Financial Data now allows users to efficiently create general ledger account data for multiple company codes by copying existing data from one company code to a new company code. It also allows creating a new general ledger account and the corresponding cost element in one maintenance step. One other highly desired feature is that you can now still change the ID of new financial master data later in the change request process. Often, when requesting a new financial master data, the final ID is not yet known to the requesting user. To allow both flexibility to the requestor and adherence to corporate numbering standards, SAP MDG for Financial Data now offers the feature to use a preliminary key first, and change it to the desired final number in a later step in the creation process.

In SAP MDG for Customer or Supplier, it is now possible to change the account group within MDG’s single object maintenance user interface. With the Feature Pack, the standard delivery also provides dedicated role-specific user interface configurations for efficient processing by experts. These include a specialized user interface covering company code data for customers or suppliers, a specialized user interface covering sales area data for customers, and one for purchasing organization data for suppliers. Users navigate directly to the specialized user interface from their (workflow) inbox based on their role and based on the step in the change request process. This saves the users several clicks for navigating to the right screen within the full change request.

Figure 5: Example of a specialized user interface covering sales area data for customers

SAP MDG for Customer or Material have also been enhanced. For example, there is an improved printing and an an enhanced copy function for material master data, as well as enriched integration with SAP PLM via Change Number and Material Revision Level, and a display option for thumbnail pictures in the SAP MDG Side Panel. The database search using SAP HANA was improved for material master data. The SAP Document Management System integration was improved. And the standard content was further enhanced: additional attributes are supported, such as storage location and the views containing material data for the warehouse. In addition, several enhancements of previously delivered material master data views are provided in the data model and the corresponding user interfaces.

As pointed out in one of my earlier blog posts, whenever we make additional investments in the MDG Application Foundation, the main focus is on extensibility, flexibility, usability, and ease of consumption. This means that we want to allow companies to create very flexible governance processes, with role-based user interfaces, but with very reasonable implementation efforts. One example of this in the Feature Pack is that we now provide customizing and configuration for all relevant SAP MDG user interfaces from one single place. A dedicated WebDynpro application is provided to manage all user interface configurations, for example, across single-object processing, multiple-record processing, and search. You can also copy a standard SAP user interface configuration to the customer namespace and configure it to your requirements.

Summary and outlook

You may have seen earlier documents about SAP MDG that describe how the focus of SAP MDG is on comprehensive master data ready for use in business processes by offering ready-to-run governance applications for specific master data domains. There, it is also stated that SAP MDG allows for customer-defined master data objects, processes, and user interfaces, and how it can distribute master data to SAP and non-SAP systems. SAP MDG is an important part of SAP’s Information Management portfolio that you might want to combine with additional tools like the SAP Information Steward for the monitoring of master data quality in all relevant systems and correction in SAP MDG, or like SAP Data Services for data quality services, validations and data enrichment.

If you look at SAP MDG 7.0 in particular, and at the recent Feature Pack, you’ll see that these enhancements focus on three aspects:

Firstly, SAP MDG now provides an even more flexible MDG Application Foundation that allows for refined control in the governance processes, leading to more flexibility and higher efficiency in the business. One example of this is the flexible Edition management for easier and more flexible scheduling of changes, a very intuitive access to the different states of master data that is valid in certain timeframes, higher transparency of past and planned changes, and a more granular control of replication timing. Another example is the parallel change requests combined with the concept of “interlocking”, which allows for many changes of the same master data object at the same time but without the risk of conflicting changes.

Secondly, enhancements to SAP MDG enable better usability providing easy access and insight for business people and allowing direct follow-up on found issues. We have looked at SAP Fiori, Smart Business, and several other usability improvements in this post. In addition, there are also the improved user interfaces for single-object maintenance, the cleansing case that allows for a reduction of duplicates during search or creation, and the multi-record processing function that allows changing multiple master data objects simultaneously in one single user interface.

Thirdly, as an option, SAP MDG can use SAP HANA for advanced duplicate-detection and search, or for multi-attribute drill-down selection. You can also use SAP HANA for efficient access to key performance indicators that are aggregated across multiple data sources to analyze the quality of governance process execution in your company.

We have already started the development of the next SAP MDG release. Stay tuned to read about more exciting enhancements and new capabilities as soon as we are ready to announce them.

You can find more information about SAP MDG on the SAP Master Data Governance page on SCN.