Master Data Maintenance for Reporting

Using BW-BPS, BW-IP or text files to maintain ‘reporting only’ data directly in BW is very flexible technique for data maintenance. It also raises a question that is more philosophical than practical:

Characteristic

Should we centralise all master data maintenance into a single system?

When the IT Department provides an enterprise landscape where data maintenance is done in several systems, you quite often end up with data integrity problems. Why?

It makes it harder for any new employee to get their head around ‘If I want to maintain this, I go to this system’ and ‘If I want to maintain that, I go to the other system’. It can get pretty nasty, especially when you end up with an enterprise landscape where you have a lot of different systems and very little or outdated business process documentation.

What systems exist across your enterprise landscape:

  • Procurement?
  • Customer management?
  • Transactional processing?
  • Middleware for system connectivity?
  • Networks, printers, internet access?
  • Business intelligence?
  • Mobile sales teams?
  • Forecasting and planning?
  • Sensor gathering?
  • … and the list goes on.

When a new employee starts to use all of these systems, the training can get confusing, fast. Often you hear them mumble about the complexity and “that it should be simpler”.

As tempting as it is to use BW-BPS, BW-IP and flat file uploads into BW for ‘reporting only’ data maintenance; don’t. Please try to go to the extra effort of creating a consistent data maintenance experience as much as possible. You will also realise other benefits:

  • Lowered security administration effort;
  • Consistent validation rules done only once;
  • Simplified documentation;
  • More regular data maintenance by employees.

Having the data maintenance located in one system will provide the same style of user interface. A good example is with ECC hierarchy maintenance being done one particular way while master data attributes are done another, with classification by another. The commonality here is that the SAP GUI provides a consistent experience.

The employee will get familiar with the toolbar, the help, the look and feel of the screen, the way the [Enter] key works differently from the way their Internet browser works, etc. This includes a wide variety of little nuances that go to makeup that user experience.

The security requirements of data maintenance are completely different from data consumption. The transactional systems (like ECC, CRM, SRM, APO, etc) have already been configured to work with the bulk of the data maintenance within their individual systems. Given that most ‘reporting only’ master data is as simple as ‘yes or no’ to be able to maintain the values then it makes sense to have the style of employee activity and security all in the same system for a consistent user experience.

“simple reporting data maintenance screens can
be built with transaction SE54 and SM30”

Most SAP users are already trained to use transactions and to access data, drill into a record and maintain it. They are already familiar with the concept of key and data fields of a record as part of their standard SAP GUI experience. Why don’t you leverage the existing familiarity? Use it consistently across more business processes.

The securing of transactional data for reporting consumption usually involves a complex matrix of related and overlapping value ranges plus the distinction between specific posted values and totals (aggregated results). ‘Analysis Authorisations’ within BW is the official feature to meet these complex reporting security requirements. Using analysis authorisations to secure reporting data maintenance screens is overkill.

The two BW planning applications are destined to go the way of the dinosaur. They will not be enhanced or patched beyond the end of their maintenance cycles. They should not really be used moving forward, as SAP Netweaver BW is focusing more on its original goals of collecting and combining data for business user consumption.

Can you list all reporting data maintenance points in the enterprise?