Sidebar: Master Data Needs Managing Too

Can automate updates of multiple apps, databases

One of the biggest myths in metadata management is that it's synonymous with master data management.

While metadata refers to data that describes other data -- like data type and field name -- master data is shared across systems like lists or hierarchies of customers, suppliers or accounts.

Mentor Graphics Corp., a Wilsonville, Ore.-based hardware and software design company, uses a master data management server from Hyperion Solutions Corp. to publish master data across its multidimensional databases and Oracle, SAP and Callidus systems, said Jan-Willem Beldman, Mentor's team lead for analytical applications and data quality.

Before the company began using the server last year, publishing changes in product master data was a manual process, he said.

"Doing synchronization manually would obviously pose problems because you may have had a change in one system [that] is not made in the next system," he said.

The company has since begun using the server for its sales organization hierarchies, and it's now deploying the system for its general ledger processes, Beldman said.

"You can be guaranteed that a few minutes after you make the change, all the systems reflect the change ... without manual intervention and without people forgetting," Beldman said. "That really helped us get concise data -- especially around the end of quarter when we reload our data warehouse every four hours."

In addition, the server can help the company through a Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance audit, he added. "It is very easy for us to show how the process works and explain when we make a change it gets made consistently across the board," Beldman said.

The Hyperion server launches a workflow process asking for the required approval for any master data changes, and it checks to make sure the change meets standards like naming-convention rules, said John Kopcke, Hyperion's chief technology officer.

The changes are pushed out to all ERP systems and data warehouses while recording the history and audit trail of those changes, he added.

Hyperion acquired its master data management server through its January purchase of Razza Solutions Inc.

Unilever Latin America began using Kalido Ltd.'s 8M master data management software six months ago to help ease a data-integration project to link human resources data from SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel systems, said Monica Parisi, Unilever's information architecture manager.

The company is also using the tool to more quickly produce its financial reports each quarter.

"Sometimes the business wants to see the data in a way that we don't have it in the transactional system," Parisi said. "It is easy to create a new hierarchy with Kalido and create the governance to maintain this hierarchy. Until today, we didn't have a tool to maintain these hierarchies, and customizing a transactional system was expensive."

Unilever this week will begin planning a new project in which Kalido will be used to globally synchronize information about new products.

Though master data management is separate from metadata efforts, Stuart Carty, founder and principal of Gavilan Research Associates, suggested that the latter can often help companies prepare for master data management projects.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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