Diary of an ERP Project Manager: ERP Master Data

We sat down today with our master data teammates, and started trying to push forward on that front, since everybody says that “ERP data cleansing” will ultimately make or break the quality of the ERP implementation. As I am beginning to understand, like everything else, this will be a more complicated task than I thought. My preconception was that we would write a quick translation program that would take the old legacy data, lookup the old, and populate the new ERP Master Data. Cross that off the “to-do” list, game over, give me a more difficult problem.

Like A Cell Going Through Mitosis

The fact is, I don’t know how much trouble we will really have; we didn’t get past the new ERP master data material number naming convention today. Once again our working team separated like a cell going through mitosis. The technocrats among the group, along with the consultants, were adamant that material numbers should be reasonably random, like telephone numbers, assigned by the system in sequential order. The business people, who will use the system every day to provide answers to customers and co-workers, expect that we should use “smart numbers”, meaning that just by looking at them, you can infer some things about the material being referenced. The most ambitious proposal called for the first two digits to reflect material type, the second two digits to represent product family, the fifth digit to define the business unit, the sixth digit the chemical composition, and the last digits to define the construction. Even I can see that approach is “too smart” and inherently problematic, but I also empathize with the business team. Random material numbering in an ERP system seems like a step backward in efficiency. We’ve scheduled another meeting for early next week.

Random material numbering in an ERP system seems like a step backward in efficiency. Tweet This

We lost another consultant this week. It turns out our sales and distribution consultant, Kevin, was a subcontractor, and he found a full time position with benefits at another ERP implementation firm. That is a little disturbing, because we interviewed a lot of consultants before we settled on Kevin, and everyone had confidence in him. I didn’t realize that any of our consulting team was subcontracted. When I asked Marla if we had anybody else in a similar position, it turns out that about half the team is subcontracted. I think that’s an issue, but Marla said we didn’t really have any choice. Apparently, the promise that we could hand pick our team as part of the consulting agreement was more of a sales pitch than it was a practical reality. We at least got Daneesh replaced this week, so we’ll have to start looking again for Kevin’s replacement.

I think material ERP master data is going to be hard.

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