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SAP Material Master: Avoid pitfalls through formal documentation tailored to your organization

Matt Johnson

In advance of Matt John's upcoming webinar, we are reposting one of his recent blog posts. Join Matt for a webinar on his top 5 tips for buyer and planner functions in SAP Material Master on Friday, January 31 at 12:00 PM EST/11:00 AM CST/ 9:00 AM PST. Reserve your place now. 

At the heart of SAP materials management is the material master.  From forecasting requirements to post-sales distribution and everything in between, the settings you make in the material master, along with your organization’s specialized features that are created in SAP customization to govern the specific rules of those settings, will control just about every action associated with each material you inventory.  

The creation, customization and maintenance of this data can be a cumbersome task.  If your organization is arranged into functional silos, as many are, it will be difficult to appropriate a person or group to be responsible for the maintenance of all material master data.  To assign a person or group from one functional silo to manage the data for another would be irresponsible and ineffective.  How likely is it that your sales manager is an expert in requirements planning, or that your buyer is a master of organizing distribution channels?  Furthermore, how are those who are named to be responsible for material master creation and maintenance to know what settings are in line with organizational goals and objectives?  

Many mistakes can be made and opportunities missed when material master responsibility within the organization is ambiguous.  That is why I recommend a formally documented process for material master creation and maintenance at your facility.  This process should be developed in a cross-functional team format consisting of both senior leadership and end-user representatives from each functional silo in your business.  This will ensure that material master settings will be in accordance with corporate objectives, all while keeping the needs of the end-user in mind.

By defining who is responsible for the maintenance of each section of the material master, along with some organizationally defined rules pertaining to each critical setting, you can avoid certain failures of an ambiguous process.  This way, when new products are introduced to your system, each party involved will know when and how to create master data.  Also, when changes to a material master are required, each team member will know exactly who is responsible to make the change and which material master settings are in line with corporate objectives. 

After developing and distributing your documented process, I recommend that you incorporate the process as a checklist in your sales and operations planning meetings.  This will ensure that necessary and accurate data is in place before requirements are introduced into MRP.   This activity will save you from having to correct systematic materials management errors after planning data has been generated.  It will also help you to avoid the sinister finger pointing that will arise if these mistakes are allowed to occur.


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