I was trying to find some time to write on this subject for a long time and also share my thoughts after completing an implementation involving Netweaver MDM and Netweaver BPM but was unable to do so. In this blog I have tried to put forth my view on importance of Data Governance and its benefits. Lets get rolling with a brief introduction of Data Governance:
Data governance relates to the management of Data, Data Quality and Business Process Management surrounding the handling of data within the organization. It is a set of processes made to ensure that important data assets are managed formally and people are held accountable for the data quality. Since the data quality directly affects the decision making, a decision based on a low quality data can be disastrous. In today's environment more and more companies are putting more emphasis on better data governance by using different tools available in market, defining the policies & guidelines for data maintenance, defining the process for data management and defining data ownership.
Master Data Management suite offered by SAP helps in data governance by providing a framework for Data Management. But data management alone is not sufficient, we need to have a process in place for data management with clear separation in data ownership and responsibility to maintain better data quality. Among other features SAP MDM provides Workflows for defining the process, Validations to ensure proper data entry, Matching Strategies for tackling data redundancy and user management for accountability. MDM Workflows are good but not suitable for very complex scenarios involving Delegations/Escalations, workflows involving multiple SAP and Non SAP systems. Here SAP Netweaver BPM comes to rescue and it can be leveraged to design a robust business process using a graphical process modeling tool which results in an agile business process which can easily accommodate complex workflow scenarios involving dynamic parallel /sequential approvals, escalations, automated email notifications. Other benefit of using SAP Netweaver BPM for defining the process is that the process can be easily understood by both IT and Business people due to its pictorial representation of the flows. Bottlenecks in the business process can be easily identified and removed easily by changing the process without much impact and effort.
Netweaver BPM can be used to define user centric processes which uses combination for manual tasks (such as data input in an online form) and automated activities (such as MDM Webservices to create Master Data in MDM). Web Dynpro Java can be used for designing the User Interfaces for the Human Activities/Tasks that require user interaction and we can use validations here to improve the data quality also external validations can also be consumed within the Web Dynpro applications for further quality improvement. For Example, while creating the Master Data for a Customer we can make sure that the VAT Registration number is mandatory if it's a EU customer (which is a legal requirement) and further validate the VAT Number using the external services provided by some authorities (e.g. Europa VAT Validation Service)). Netweaver BPM helps to monitor and report Key Performance Indicators against the SLAs set for the organization, though KPI functionality is limited in current version of Netweaver BPM but it will be enhanced in coming versions.
So if we combine SAP MDM along with SAP Netweaver BPM/BRM then we can have a robust business process that spans across systems, can handle Escalations/Delegations, complex business scenarios and rule based decision making which helps in better data governance and better data quality which directly affects the efficiency and profitability of an organization. Using Human activities we can ensure that data is maintained by the data owner and not anyone else and that he will be held accountable for the task (e.g If we need to update the credit information of a customer than a person from Credit and Collections department is the best person to update this set of data). Apart form that, BPM - MDM combi takes lesser time to market as compared to MDM/GP solution by utilizing the standard web services delivered by SAP for performing CRUD operations in MDM.
Wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!