Maintaining the material master data in SAP is a substantial and complicated task – and often an imposition for casual users of SAP. The material master data are like the red blood cells of a company. If they are flawed, important functions such as the purchasing process, production, or delivery to customers could be stalled. Those are good reasons for optimizing your master data management.
Problems in material master data management in SAP
Consider this example: An international industrial company manufactures blast furnaces. In order for the equipment manufacturer to be able to work on site, they need a lot of materials – from huge steel parts to single screws – which need to be at the construction site on time. The engineers not only design the gigantic industrial facilities, they also enter the necessary material in the SAP MM. But many of them don’t pay attention to the fact that cross-plant material data help to avoid redundant master data, so that the company benefits from favorable purchasing conditions. They also aren’t interested in the plant-specific material views such as Purchasing and Scheduling, although those views contain important control parameters for the timely delivery of materials to the construction site. The engineers’ attitude is understandable, because they sometimes need thousands of new materials.
The three most common mistakes:
- A material master is created several times, leading to incorrect calculation values.
- The material master creation process is not transparent.
- Production is delayed.
Just the coordination of the departments involved, which maintain their material view, requires an extreme effort. Reducing the entry errors is also complex. All of that drives up the company’s costs. In the worst case, the wrong material is delivered, which not only delays the completion date, but can cost the company millions if, for example, a custom product is involved.
A 360° view of the fully automated material master plant process: This is what brings real added value to SAP and drives digitization in companies.
The solution: Maintain material master data with SAP integration
What does sensible material master data maintenance require, and who in the company benefits from it? The departments which enter their needed materials are interested in a fast, smooth process that is as simple as possible. The IT manager wants complete integration in SAP in order to avoid additional training. And the management wants comprehensive overview in order to minimize cycle times and resource costs and increase data governance.
Individual and intuitive interfaces
The software solution for material management runs directly in SAP and uses the SAP business workflow to eliminate the manual coordination effort. The system builders use the process conveniently via a web interface based on SAP Web Dynpro. They can thus easily apply for material from anywhere and enter the basic data. The departments such as purchasing, materials planning, sales and accounting then maintain their views. The crux: The user interface can be individually adapted to the needs of the respective department without having to program Web Dynpro. The process flow can also be easily adapted to customer requirements in the respective project.
EASY Material Management for SAP Solutions helps the facility builder to avoid redundant data. It allows employees to check if an ordered material already exists in SAP. The duplicate check relies on the material description and drawing number and can be expanded with additional parameters within the project.
Validation of the material master data
As a result of EASY Material Management operating directly in SAP, all SAP search help and validation tables can be used directly. Thus, users can only select values in the material master data creation process which are also provided in the SAP System.
The material data are usually used in more than one plant and therefore need to be maintained for all sites. In many cases, this manual maintenance can be automated if the entry data are identical.
With SAP integrations like EASY Material Management, departments have easy and individual interfaces available to coordinate the process flow. Scarce personnel resources are free for other tasks and the error rate is reduced. Since no additional hardware is necessary and the software solution operates in SAP, that takes some pressure off of IT. Finally, management achieves 360° process transparency to reduce cycle times and maximize optimization potentials. In addition, most of the expenses for the previously manual process coordination no longer apply.
Process transparency in particular comes in very handy in the Sales department to show customers that the company is in command of its order processing.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell your customers that you are completely in charge of your processes?