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What SAP master data management basics should data controllers learn?

Data controllers may find themselves without the know-how to update master data once the SAP consultants have gone and the ERP system is live. These essentials will rectify that.

When a significant volume of a company's crucial master data needs to be updated, master data controllers need...

the right tools and know-how to create such changes. Given the general consistency of master data, however, they may not have these master data management basics at the ready.

Master data is the data that remains in the SAP system for long periods of time and does not frequently change. During the implementation of an SAP system such as SAP ERP Central Component, the SAP consultants are responsible for all data uploads, whereas the company's business users are responsible for providing correct and comprehensive master data to consultants for uploads. The SAP consultants provide Excel-based master data templates with details on how to fill them out. The business users fill out the data and the onus is on SAP consultants to upload the provided data in the SAP systems, including in the SAP's production system. The SAP consultants either use standard data upload programs delivered by SAP or create new data upload programs specifically for the project.

If new data needs to be created once the consultants are gone and the SAP system is live, these three master data management basics can guide master data controllers in navigating this challenge.

Reusing already-created upload programs

All data upload programs that the consultants of the relevant SAP components created are still available in the company's SAP system. Having a complete list of all upload programs and their purposes can go a long way in reusing them when needed. For example, an upload program was created by the SAP Sales and Distribution consultant to create new customer master record, while another program is available for vendor master record creation and a third one is there for employee master record creation. Similarly, upload programs may have also been created to change or update values in a few fields of the existing master data. These upload programs, too, can be put to use by data controllers when needed.

Using mass change functionality

It's often a surprise that so few data controllers are aware of the mass change functionality to quickly change or update data available to all components of an SAP ERP system. For example, transaction MM17 is available to update fields of a large number of material master records. The best way to find mass change functionality for specific master data is to navigate to the menu path of creating or changing master data in the SAP ERP system that also lists the mass change option in the same node.

Using SAP LSMW tool

Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) is a tool that SAP consultants use for all kinds of data uploads. Master data controllers can do themselves a favor by learning how to use this tool. They can even request the SAP consultants deployed on the project to impart LSMW training and knowledge transfer. Imparting training by system integrator can also be made part of SAP project's deliverable.

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This was last published in October 2016

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What challenges in SAP master data management has your company faced?
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With an increasing level of pressure being brought down on taking rights to data away from IT and with LSMW being not deemed a suitable tool for use by non-IT - the proposition of LSMW is no longer a relevant one except under very exceptional circumstances - certainly it should not be recommended as an approach for good data stewardship. Finally consider that for S/4 HANA it is also not considered a good fit.
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