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What is master data within SAP?

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Through the purchase requisition (BANF for short), a department reports its need for material or services. This triggers a purchase order for the purchasing department. For a better understanding we will work out the master data from this example in the end.

But first the question "What is SAP master data?" arises. What is behind this term at all and how does master data differentiate itself from any other data? This article will answer these and other questions.

Master data - this is the definition  

Master data contains all important information about companies, suppliers and customers. This data remains unchanged over a long period of time and is required  again and again within business processes.

This can be, for example, names of material, addresses of business persons and suppliers, or delivery confirmations for customers.

Master data fulfills the following aspects in particular:

  • Few changes to the data records
  • Long validity
  • Focus on data maintenance and correctness
  • Ready for use within the company

But what types of SAP master data exist? In the next section, you will get an overview of the most important types of master data. (Quelle)

These types of master data exist

Material master: Central location for organizing and storing material-specific data such as material number, weight, size and description
Supplier master: Includes all supplier-specific data such as name, address, currency, payment terms and contact people
Customer master: All sales-side processes revolve around this master data such as customer name, address, customer number, bank details and delivery terms
Purchasing info record: links the material master to the vendor master. That is, information that relates a material exclusively to a vendor, such as prices, terms, and planned delivery time, is maintained here
Messages: Data used to communicate to the customer through email, print, EDI, or even fax. Common messages are order confirmations for customers, invoices, shipping confirmations, and shipment documents

Are there more types of data in SAP?

There is of course not only one type of data in SAP. In addition to master data, there is also organizational data and transaction data. These data are clearly separated, but can be interdependent within a business process.

Organizational data is used to map a company in the system.

Organizational data is, for example:

  • The client: Represents the group or headquarters of a company in a system.
  • Company code: Is a self-contained accounting system. All commercial events pass through the company code
  • Plant: Can be a production plant, a headquarters or a warehouse. In the client, a plant is always unique
  • Storage location: Is directly assigned to a plant and allows to distinguish the stocks of a material
  • Purchasing organization: Purchasing of the company in the system
  • Purchasing group: A team of employees who are responsible for an area. Thus this area can be responsible for the procurement of certain materials or service.

Last but not least, there is transaction data. This data is mutable and usually exists only within a business process.

Examples are:

  • Purchase order: document number, quantity, etc.
  • Invoice: document number, amount, quantity etc.
  • Material document: stock, material, storage location etc. (Quelle)

In the introduction of this section it was written that all these data types are interdependent.

For this a concrete example:

A specialist department needs a material from the warehouse, which the plant's internal logistics must deliver from the warehouse to the production plant. This order of the employee contains the material name as well as the material number as master data. But also the quantity that is needed as movement data. This means that movement data always builds on master data. Without master data there is no movement data. Master data need to exist the organization data, which contain the warehouse and the plant.

This results in the probability of change of the data. Since the organizational data represents the real company, the probability that this data will be changed is lower. Master data is changed more frequently than organizational data. If the address or the name of a business partner changes, this must be adjusted in the master data. Transaction data changes most often because it exists only within a business process.

With this information in mind, we now turn our attention to an example and will work out the master data afterwards. (Quelle)

Modeling a purchasing process

In a company, at least three different departments are involved in a purchasing process: The purchasing department, the receiving department and the invoice verification department.

These three basic phases are further broken down into a more detailed process:

An employee needs a certain material for the further course of his activity. He communicates this by a purchase requisition to the purchase (determination of demand). The purchase department determines the source of supply with the help of the requirement request. This is selected considering past orders (determination of the source of supply). With the supplier choice different offers, which come into question, must be caught up (selection of the supplier).

In the next step, the order is processed (order processing). Here, contacts can be referred to. Since several departments are involved in the process, the entire handling must be tracked (order monitoring).

In this step, suppliers can also be warned in case of outstanding deliveries. Now that the material has been received (goods receipt) and checked for quantity and quality, the invoice is also checked for accuracy (invoice verification). Finally, the payment is processed (payment processing), but this is no longer assigned to Materials Management, but to Financial Accounting.

What is the master data of a purchasing process?

In this example, several master data have come into place.

  • The employee: The purchase requisition of the employee contains several master data. The name and address. Also internal information such as the company‘s personnel number and department. The business partner: The business partner or also manufacturer is indispensable in a purchasing process. This includes the name, the number or also the salutation.
  • The supplier master: The master data of the supplier master contains the name of the supplier. In the supplier evaluation data are maintained, such as delivery reliability, price and quality. The supplier evaluation enables the basis of the decision  ort he selection of the suppliers.
  • The material master: In the purchase there are data such as unit of measure, name of the material and the person, who is responsible  ort he procurement. Also, in the case of externally procured materials, a source list is maintained that provides the link between the material master, the purchasing info record, and the vendor master. There with the marking of a plant a supplier are registered.
  • The purchasing info record: In this process, the material master and the vendor master are linked to each other and thus the best conditions and prices of a vendor are worked out by the material. (Quelle)

Protect your master data from data decay

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