Master data explained using a sales process

In times of digitization, data is an important corporate asset. The principle applies here: the “cleaner” and more complete the data, the greater the potential and the smoother the collaboration with the data. Therefore, a well-maintained database has great potential.

In this blog post, we will go into master data and explain it in more detail using examples. But before we get into the master data, we must first ask ourselves this question:

What is master data?

Master data is stored in systems over an extended time and is available to all authorized users and applications.

Hundreds of master data types in SAP® are created and used differently depending on the industry. The most important master data used in almost all sales processes are material master data, customer master data, vendor master data, and sales documents. Using this master data, we illustrate the course of a sales process and thus demonstrate the importance of the master data. Before we can simulate a sales process, we must create master data.

We look closely at the question “What is master data in SAP?”. in another blog post. Here you will find an overview of the different types of master data.

How do I create master data?

For each type of master data, there are separate transactions in SAP® to create, maintain and display them. Individual master data transactions are listed in the SAP® forums and can be searched as needed.

In our example, we’ll start by creating the material. Materials management is at the beginning of the supply chain in SAP®; before you can sell something, it has to exist.

Step-by-step guide: Creating a material

Step 1: Materials are created in SAP® in transaction MM01, MM02 is maintained, and MM03 is displayed. We, therefore, call transaction MM01 first.

Step 2 – In our example, we will create the material “Still_Water” to be sold to large discount stores. In this case, we’ll name our material “Water_Still” and select Retail as the industry because we want to sell our material. As the material type, we choose Drinks and press Enter.

Step 3: The view selector opens. In our case, we have selected the “Basic data 1” and “Sales: Sales organization data 1” views.

Step 4: After these have been selected, the material’s plant, sales organization, and distribution channel must be selected.

Step 5: Once this is done, we come to the actual creation of a material:

Now, this image may seem daunting to some. SAP® wants to enable the creator of the material to describe it as accurately as possible. We see our selected views “Basic Data 1” and “Sales: Sales Organization 1” on the tabs. The other accounts can be hidden by pressing a button on the view selection. However, if you don’t know which attributes are included in which view, you still have the option to populate the features in other unselected pictures.

On the Sales: Sales Organization 1 tab, we need to fill in the Tax Classification field. After filling out the essential areas, we save our entries and create our material. The data record that has now been held can be found in the “MARA” table and can be deleted there if necessary.

Last step: Create a debtor

Now that our material has been created, we need a buyer for our material. As with materials, there are separate transactions in SAP for customers to develop (XD01), maintain (XD02), and display (XD03).

So now we call transaction XD01 to create our first customer.

Here we need to fill in the “Account Group” field to define what type of customer is required. For our account group, we will select the “General Customer” option and use it to create our customers.

After you have created the customer, an initial screen appears, similar to when making a material, on which you can/must enter more detailed data about the customer.

The fields that should not be made an obsolete name (just first or last name is sufficient), place of residence, and country. We can create our customers after filling in the fields. However, we would like to add a valid bank account to ours. To do this, we go to the Payment tab, where we can indicate one or even several bank details.

After we have created a bank account specifying the country, the bank key, the bank details, and the account holder, we save our data by pressing the save button. The table where the saved data is now located is “KAN1”. With this, we have created and saved our debtor.

How is the master data related?

Now we have our material “Agua_Still,” and our clients identified with a number. How could this master data be linked? If our customer wants to buy our material, an order can be easily created via transaction VA01, which connects the two parties. It is specified what type of order it is and what materials and debtors are required. The number of necessary parts is selected, and the total fundamental quantity is calculated from this. This information can now be sent to the warehouse, for example, to prepare the material for shipping and finally to ship it.

This process can be applied to all company areas with different master data. Master data is created, used for a more extended period, and then, as in our example, used via order with this. You can see that entire processes within a company are based on master data and are therefore essential.

master data maintenance tasks

Typical master data maintenance tasks include preventing errors and maintaining the data in a central system. If you have master data, it must be maintained and kept up to date. Otherwise, significant problems can arise.

If master data in a company is stored several times in different systems and is not synchronized simultaneously, drastic errors can occur. For example, if a product enhancement is available in sales but not production, and a customer receives the wrong material with the incorrect invoice.

Why is master data maintenance essential?

In such a scenario, there would be costs and a loss of reputation. Of course, in some techniques, no master data needs to be maintained. SAP cooperates closely with other applications so that a cashier in the supermarket does not have to preserve associated master data for every product sold. However, this is not always the case. In addition, good master data maintenance avoids data redundancy and data entry effort. These points are essential to mastering data maintenance tasks that are relatively the same across industries.

A solution would be to run the master data maintenance and related tasks in a central system (not acting as a sales system) to avoid duplication and inconsistencies. As mentioned above, there is a separate transaction for master data maintenance for each master data type.

Good master data maintenance is therefore crucial for efficient processes, satisfied customers, and reliable analysis of individual functions. So keep an eye on your master data maintenance!

How do I submit my master data?

If all departments are in one system, no master data needs to be transmitted, as all departments have access to it. Yet, if this is not the case and the individual departments are linked by a process but not in a system, master data must be transmitted.

Now you are wondering how I transmit my master data. This is done with so-called IDocs. IDocs can be considered an envelope transported with its content from one system to another via an RFC connection.

If you are interested in the topic of IDocs, there is a separate blog post on our site.

Is it possible to create master data faster?

The entire process of creating the master data seems very complex if each customer and each material have to be completed individually.

From practice for practice: The Libelle MasterDataServicesSuite (MDSS) was developed for the needs of all those with master data in daily operations or immigration schemes. Our toolbox can be easily operated through the central cockpit, proposing six tools that cover all master data maintenance tasks individually or in combination.

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