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Issue Date: October 2006

MDM with an edge

October 2006

Many companies are turning to master data management (MDM) to bring their various data requirements under control. But often MDM alone is not enough.

Master data management, or MDM, is the business process, applications and technical integration architecture used to create and maintain accurate and consistent views of core business entities across disparate applications. The technical process of implementing MDM requires organisations to integrate systems; integrate data; understand the data; standardise the data between information repositories; and finally pass out the information as a golden copy. In certain cases however, MDM faces critical limitations.
Enterprise dimension management (EDM) seeks to satisfy data consistency requirements by defeating costly multiple charts of accounts, supporting business performance management (BPM) initiatives and other associated problems. It also expands the scope of straight-forward MDM to allow companies to support business performance management (BPM) initiatives because it allows people to work with data according to their role in the business.
Multiple charts of accounts
Multiple charts of accounts result in inconsistencies that makes financial reporting difficult and results in suspect information on which business decisions are made. EDM solves the problem by having all data-handling systems subscribe to it. It is a unification tool that keeps data systems, stores, repositories and business systems tightly coupled and operating off the same page. It also allows different divisions, business units and group companies to maintain their individual structures while it allows central or group headquarter business users to interact with the data in a consistent and unified manner.
Businesses that run analytics applications that deal with multiple hierarchies and many master data components for different divisions will derive benefit from employing EDM.
For example, the operations manager wants to know when a product rolled off the assembly line, the marketing manager wants to know the package contents, the sales manager wants to know how much it costs and how many units were sold and the financial manager wants to know how many units were sold and what the margin is on each. EDM delivers this business functionality. Companies running basic ERP systems with no need to do more will derive no benefit from EDM. However, any business that requires many, changing dimensional models and hierarchies will.
Put a tiger in your data store
Tiger Brands is one such company. EDM software has enabled the group of 23 business units to effectively manage the huge data dimensions that resulted from its data consolidation exercise, provide Tiger with productivity-boosting re-use of its data structures, and offer a customer-centric, cross-organisational view of its data to better inform business intelligence (BI) initiatives.
The system enables a master data approach to managing and reporting on sales data across Tiger Brands business units and, based on its success with the Oracle implementation, the EDM system will soon be integrated with the J.D. Edwards and Baan ERP suites at Tiger's Beacon Sweets and Enterprise Foods divisions respectively.
The project was concluded last year to give the business a better understanding of customer buying patterns across business units. Prior to this it had proved to be nearly impossible, with each of the business units using a different customer tracking system. There was no consistency between them regarding customer identification or reporting.
After the EDM implementation, when the business drilled down into one major customer's data structure, it found another customer's store mixed in. It had no way to reveal that pre-EDM. It has since built data hierarchies around a number of business functions for each customer - trade market, channel, region, and others - but not all are used for every customer in every system. As a result of the EDM implementation, Tiger Brands has reduced its member hierarchy from 130 000 to 45 000 members. But equally important are the productivity gains resulting from the EDM system's change management features.
Before, if the retail stores reorganised and a customer required Tiger to change its reporting accordingly, it had to work with 23 different ERP system administrators. Now, with the EDM system, it can do it once, and proliferate it to all the systems. For the business that needs it, EDM is nigh indispensable.
Derek Radue, senior business analyst at Stratature +EDM distributor Knowledge Integration Dynamics (KID)
Derek Radue, senior business analyst at Stratature +EDM distributor Knowledge Integration Dynamics (KID)
For more information, contact Derek Radue, Knowledge Integration Dynamics, +27 (0) 11 462 1277,

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