Implementing a Vendor Master Data governance solution based on BPM, MDM & ECC: Part 4

This part of the blog series will focus on the challenges faced with the implementation of the Vendor Master Data governance solution based on SAP MDM, BPM and ECC. In the beginning we faced several technical issues like MDM PI adapter was not functioning properly leading to Syndication failure; later the issue was fixed with a SP update. Below I have listed some of the challenges that we faced during the course of project:

Mail Notifications: Only after we designed a process using BPM, we came to know about the limitations in customizing the notification mails that are send at each process steps. We went ahead with a custom mail notification that fulfilled the requirements of the business users.

KPI Reporting: One of the main reason for going ahead with Netweaver BPM was the out of the box KPI functionality, later we realized that it was very minimal and did not offer what the client wanted so we had to go for a custom development.

Mapping between tasks: It was a pain doing mappings between the different activities since the auto mapping function failed several times and we had to map them manually.

Limited customization options for BPM Tasks: The client wanted to modify the default appearance of the task option but we were unable to do anything on this front as no public APIs were available for BPM.

Blackberry Support: Client wanted that the business users should be able to complete their tasks using their mobile devices, but that cannot be achieved since BPM is not supported on blackberry yet.

Syndication failures: Since the Global Data syndication from MDM to ECC could fail, so we did not have any control to ensure that Global data is preset in ECC before the local data could be posted. To overcome this issue, we had split the data posting part into two tasks wherein the first one was used to post the Global data and the next one for posting local data to make sure that Global data existed in the system before the local data is posted and there are no failures.

Request Archiving: All the process data is lost once the process is completed (In CE 7.1.1) so we have to find a way to preserve the data for every request. We designed a archiving solution wherein we made log archive files for all the request to keep a track on the request details.

Although we faced all these issues with the initial version of Netweaver BPM, most of the limitations are not there in CE 7.2 due to introduction of new features like KPI export functionality to BI, improved automatic context mapping,  automatic UI generation from process context and improved administration functions like preserving data for completed processes.

Implementing a Vendor Master Data governance solution based on BPM, MDM & ECC: Part 3

This part of the blog series will focus on the Technical architecture part of the implementation of the Vendor Master Data governance solution based on SAP MDM, BPM and ECC.

We will take example of Vendor Master data creation scenario wherein after receiving a request for Vendor Creation, certain approvals are required (like Clearance from Procurement, Finance, etc) before a Vendor record is actually created in the system. SO we designed a Approval roces wherein a requester would initiate the creation request by logging onto the portal and filling up and submitting a request for Vendor Creation. This request in turn triggers the approval process that we designed in Netweaver BPM process. We used the MDM Java APIs for performing various CRUD operations for maintaining global data in MDM while used Remote Function Calls to read local data from ECC and PI webservices for posting the local data to ECC.

Below is the block architecture diagram showing various linkages between the components:

MDM web services generator (starting MDM 7.1 SP 04) can also be utilized for generating the web services to minimize the complexity and development time that is required for writing Java API code.

Next part of this blog series is focused on the challenges faced while implanting this solution.

Part 1 and Part 2 can be reached by clicking on the part link.

Implementing a Vendor Master Data governance solution based on BPM, MDM & ECC: Part 2

This part of the blog series will focus on the approach that we used to implement the Vendor Master Data governance solution based on SAP MDM, BPM and ECC.

Lets get started with the overview of the existing process that client was having: Before this solution was realized, the client was having SAP MDM for mastering the Global attributes of the Vendor (Name, Address Data, Contact details) and used to maintain the Local attributes (Purchase Area specific data like Controlling data) directly in SAP ECC system and also had the SAP SRM system in place which was not tightly integrated with MDM. Process flows varied across the organization and local processes were being followed in local sites across geographies.

We started with gathering of inputs on the local processes being followed across the organization and studied the process to propose a common global process for Vendor Master Data maintenance that was not specific to a local site and fulfilled the most core requirements I the initial release. We had to prioritize the requirements based on the impact that it would make and listed out the core feature that were required along with other nice to have features which we agreed to implement at a later stage in form of enhancements to make sure that we are on track and provide the most required functionality to the business within the given time frame.

When we started with the actual realization of the solution, we partly followed the Agile development method wherein we used to develop the core requirements first and demonstrated the working piece to the client to obtain the feedback on the developments. This way we involved the different business teams right through the development stage and accepted changes (not major) during the development and saved a lot of time (in comparison to making changes at a later stage) along with the customer delight. Actually we were able to complete the realization well ahead of the schedule so we went ahead and worked on adding the ‘Nice to have' features which led to a positive customer experience. Once the development finished we had a round of rigorous testing by the functional team and later a User Acceptance test followed by end-user training and finally go-live.

Everything went well during the go-live and post go-live support and we did not receive a single high priority issue for the solution and the solution is working efficiently and helped the Master Data organization to process the requests quickly while maintaining the data quality. Next part of this blog series focuses on the technical architecture used for the solution.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Implementing a Vendor Master Data governance solution based on BPM, MDM & ECC: Part 1

In his series of blogs, I will talk on how we went ahead with implementation of a Vendor Master Data governance solution for a large client. The blogs will focus on the scenarios that we implemented and the methodologies used to realize the solution, I will also try to focus on the architecture part of the solution and the tradeoffs between various alternatives. Goal of the project was to have a globally defined process with proper checks and controls to ensure that people are held responsible for their actions, enable monitoring of the key performance indicators to identify the bottlenecks and continuously optimize the process, maintain high quality data and restrict access to relevant information.

The aim of the project was to provide the management with proper metrics and streamlining the Vendor maintenance process across the organization. Initially the proposal was to go ahead with the MDM workflows integration with Netweaver Portal to realize the approval functionality, but later on BPM was chosen due to several limitations in the MDM Workflows like unable to extend the workflow to ECC system was not possible.

This blog will outline the agenda whereas part two of this blog series will focus on the approach that we used to implement the solution, part three focuses on the technical architecture and part four will focus on the challenges faced during the implementation and how did we overcome them. I have already published a blog with some learnings from a similar project and can be found here: Learnings from a Netweaver BPM-MDM implementation

Some more useful blogs related to a similar implementation are listed below:

Custom KPI measurement solution for BPM

CMDM scenario using BPM & MDM

What different users wanted from Netweaver BPM/MDM solution?

Data Governance with Netweaver MDM and BPM

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