Getting to grips with master data management

Master data management, or MDM, creates a lot of headaches for firmware development companies, who already feel inundated with all the WEEE legislations and REACH directives flying around the place. We at Enventure Technologies offer a full range of Master data management services. However, you’re likely to fare better if you understand some of the concepts first.

You need to start by understanding what master data is. Your system software will have files of data that needs to be shared by other applications on the system, called Masters. A typical ERP (enterprise, resource and planning) system will have three as a minimum: the Customer, Item and Account Master. These are the most important assets of the company. However, even a simple system like this can get confusing, especially in an area like mechanical engineering or firmware development. Where, for example, do you insert your RoHS files, or your part obsolescence management data? Qualifying what master data is, and how it should be managed, is confusing even for the experts.

There are some simple classifications for MDM:

Unstructured data. This includes emails, PDF files, white papers, magazine articles, product specifications etc.

Transactional data. This has an effect, i.e. it forms part of a transaction. So it’s everything related to sales, deliveries and invoices. But it can also include travel claims, office expenses and other financial interactions.

Metadata. This means ‘data about other data’, and includes XML documents, report definitions, log files, configuration files etc.

Hierarchical data. This stores important information linking the other data. It may take the form of the organisational structure of the company, or be details on product lines. This is a critical part of master data management, since all the other areas fall under it.

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