A (supply) chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Don’t let it be your data.
Among the steps you are proactively taking to prepare for your WMS implementation, master data is one that cannot be ignored.
“Masterful master data requires the practice of defining and maintaining consistent definitions of business entities, then sharing them via integration techniques across multiple IT systems within an enterprise and sometimes beyond to partnering companies or customers.”
Philip Russom Ph.D. Industry Analyst
Because master data is used by multiple applications, an error in the data in one place can cause errors in all the applications that use it - like your WMS.
Master data and its integrity is the foundation of your automated business system, whether it is a WMS or any other transaction-centric application.
Your business cannot risk inefficiencies rooted in bad master data, like inconsistent data, which can cripple your WMS efficiency, lack of cross-domain relationships, reducing your ability to gain operational intelligence, or lack of process orchestration, making it difficult to manage and approve information in line with policies and processes.
You can overcome all these pain points by managing your master data as it synchronises all internal and external systems to keep your master data clean and consistent across the organization.
A strong data system entails 6 core disciplines which your company should instill and maintain as an ethos for ongoing excellent master data management.
To prepare for a successful WMS implementation, you need several ducks in several rows.
Ensure your data management strategy will support you, whether you aim to improve your bottom line, beef up decision making, or more accurately cater to consumer trends.
Treat your data with the reverence of banks, insurance companies, and medical service providers. In the short-term, it will give you secure, accurate information. In the long run, it will ensure that any growth, expansion, or change to your services keeps the information secure and stored according to regulations, whatever you intend to use it for.
Use only what is accurate and relevant to your business. Superfluous data may be good to have, or “nice to know”, but if it serves no real purpose, it’s taking up valuable space, processing power, and time that should be focused on the data that impacts your business. If you need to check this, use the data categories outlined at the start of this blog.
Remove duplications, standardise the data capturing process and syntax, train your staff on the correct data-capturing procedures, and check the data regularly for accuracy and reliability.
This relies heavily on your data architecture, and the structures put in place by your data management team. Permissions and access will vary based on roles, and you need to stay on top of this to prevent sabotage, human error, inappropriate client contact, and uninformed changes to your master data. The teams who need it should have full access, and protected information must be kept that way.
While having your data stored within secure servers or cloud applications may be a comforting thought, anything can happen to compromise those structures. Consider how you will back-up, restore, and recover your data if the worst happens.
A good data suite is one that can integrate and interface with your software solutions and give you the tools you need to satisfy your master data requirements.
It’s a lot of work to get your data to stand up against international best practices, but the more robust, accurate and structured your approach to master data management and its integrity, the higher your chances of success will be.
In our Master Data Masterclass, we look at the multiple ways in which you can ensure good quality master data within your warehouse, and further.
Collating and managing master data is a complex ongoing process. Like most things in software, the key to success is to implement master data management programme changes incrementally far ahead of any other additions, so that the business realises some short term benefits while the complete project remains a long-term process.
Much like with a WMS, no master data management can be successful without the support and participation of the business users; IT professionals do not have the domain knowledge to create and maintain high-quality master data.
Additionally, any project that does not include changes to the processes that create, maintain and validate master data is likely to fail.