Are You Managing Your Master Data – Or Is It Managing You?

Martin Printz

Retailers have simply accepted the mediocre quality of master data for far too long. Even the gap between the acceptable level of quality and seamless data quality has widened significantly. And as omni-channel retailing demands more and more master data, data quality will most likely not improve anytime soon on its own.

When master data management systems do not kept pace with the growing requirements of modern retailers, complications emerge including:

  • Siloed business processes
  • Inefficient and manual data processing
  • Article management through e-mails and spreadsheets
  • Increased load of information in the item master
  • High complexity of the item master
  • Inaccurate master data
  • Increased cost burden

These challenges have, for the most part, been addressed with custom/homegrown solutions. However, they are often too inflexible and expensive to develop and maintain, while making the company reliant on a few key resources.

Signs of a master data management system under control

In an ideal world, retailers would maintain high-quality master data in a single source and process it only once. This maintenance system would then distribute accurate master data to all recipient systems.

The days of using email and spreadsheets to manage and report information will be gone. Instead, email would just send information, and spreadsheets would be used for department budgets. Data entry in the system would be driven by uploads, and vendor interfaces would allow collaboration. Plus, data quality checks would become an automatic part of the data management process.

Not only will the process become fully transparent, but every transaction will detail the “who,” “what,” “when,” and “why” behind every event. More important, one version of the truth would be accessible – no matter the application a decision-maker uses.

The system of “now” is changing the game

The ideal world is not too far away. The latest crop of governance systems is bringing businesses closer to the vision of a master data solution designed specifically for retail. By supporting an end-to-end governance model and internal and external collaboration with partners, the system does not compromise data quality.

Today’s governance platform for retail master data solutions offers cost-effective ways to quickly overcome business challenges. The platform is anchored in business processes and rules that enable any retailer to transfer its master data management vision into an everyday reality. This helps ensure high data quality and eliminates any embarrassing hiccups that may happen from the supply chain and warehouse to the store, e-commerce shop, and social media.

While governance is a valuable – and necessary – achievement, one question still looms: How is your data fed into the system?

Data management solutions must allow for flexibility during planning and data entry, providing mass processing features such as item master uploading and mass updates of entered master data. These capabilities are especially useful for retailers with significant assortments that change each season, such as fashion retailers. When combined with a comprehensive, yet flexible, workflow model, data is validated according to business requirements before being released to downstream systems.

Did you miss the expert series Webinar “Govern the Retail and Fashion Article Master”? Watch it on demand.

Martin Printz

About Martin Printz

Martin Printz is Director for Retail Solutions at Utopia Global Inc. He has more than 20 years’ experience in SAP solutions across logistics modules in industries such as retail, consumer products, chemicals, healthcare, and food. For the past decade, he has served as a solution architect for the Retail Business Unit at SAP, empowering businesses spanning sub-industries including fashion, grocery, pharmacy, jewelry, and catalog and general merchandise.