Effective master data management

Many multi-subsidiary companies face daily problems with data structure and communication between subsidiaries, as well as individual users.

Subsidiaries use their own databases and different systems which makes it impossible to communicate effectively. This has business drawbacks in many operational areas. The lack of standardized data management triggers problems with monitoring subsidiary performance as well as applying uniform pricing and distribution policies. Processes get more and more inefficient.

Master Data Management
Master Data Management

Master Data Management System

Master Data Management System is an add-on solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) certified by Microsoft. Sooner or later, such organizations are confronted with challenges regarding the assurance of data consistency in their companies. From the group’s perspective, it is recommended to standardize some data categories (e.g. items) in all companies instead of permitting inconsistencies at a local level. It can be extended with new sets of features to meet growing demands of users and markets during the digital transformation.

Typical problems solved with Master Data Management System

  • Lack of unified database, integrated between all company locations, that would facilitate the introduction of changes in the entire organization
  • Different inventory numbering systems - hindering the comparison of stock levels between locations
  • Lack of ability to enter central pricelists, design BOMs, etc., as well as facing difficulties in their distribution between subsidiaries
  • Difficulties in entering group contracts for vendors
  • The need to monitor data in each company separately
  • Additional communication difficulties within EDI
  • Lack of unified data
Master Data Management

Guide

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Master Data Management System

Master Data Management System Capabilities

Introductions to Master Data Management System functionality


Master Data Management System is a module that allows users to set up any set of data within the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) database and replicate it to another Business Central database to ensure data consistency.

Users are allowed to set up any number of Receivers, which are target companies, to which data is replicated. The structure of data replicated can be set up as data sets.

Users can use any number of created data sets and set them up to be replicated to a particular receiver, by using the replication card. Replication can be either Full or Incremental. While processing Incremental replication, only data changed during the last replication will be exported.

The module is particularly useful when a company wants to create and maintain certain Dynamics 365 Business Central cards (e.g. items, BOMs, vendors) in one company – called “master” company – and afterwards synchronize the data within all the subsidiaries (“receiver” companies).

The module uses files stored in shared folders as a data transport layer.

Master Data Management
Master Data Management

Replication – Master Company and Receiver Companies

In Master Data Management System, data exchange is always performed from the Master Company to Receiver Companies. A Master Company is a company where all data considered global is stored. Receiver Companies are the companies to which data is sent.

Depending on the type of Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) installation in the organization, data exchange is managed within one database, or within multiple databases, or within databases located at multiple SQL servers or in the scenarios using corporate ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle, etc.

Single database

An example of data synchronization using Master Data Management System in an organization with a single Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) database.

Multiple databases

An example of data synchronization using Master Data Management System in an organization with multiple databases on the SQL server.

Multiple data centers

An example of data synchronization using Master Data Management System, during which Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) data bases are synchronized on servers located in different data centers (usually because of insufficient bandwidth). The primary assumption of the Master Data Management System architecture is that some of the subsidiaries in the organization use their own Dynamics 365 Business Central installations deployed on different servers.

Regionalization

The other variant of the Master Data Management System installation is an organization with subsidiaries with uniform master data. However, this data can be different depending on the region in which a subsidiary operates. In such cases, a layer is created between the main Master Company and all the Receivers. Regional companies become Receivers for the main Master Company in the group, but at the same time they are Master Companies for the subsidiaries in their respective regions.

Corporate ERP (e.g. SAP)

An example of data synchronization using Master Data Management System in an organization where Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) is used by subsidiaries in the group and another ERP system e.g. SAP is used as a corporate system. In such a case, SAP can be a source of data for the Master Company (as shown in the diagram), but there are other scenarios. In such scenarios, Master Data Management System is a source of data both for SAP and Dynamics 365 Business Central, or data is sent directly from SAP to Receiver Companies, and part of typical Dynamics 365 Business Central data is still maintained in the Master Company. In the last example, a separate Master Company is required for Dynamics 365 Business Central, because differences between the SAP and Dynamics 365 Business Central data structures. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain e.g. accounting groups, dimensions and charts of accounts in the Master Company. Please note that integration with SAP is not part of the standard Master Data Management System functionality.

Data Sets

The data set contains information about the structure of data to be replicated. The user can set up which fields should be included in a data set. In the replication process, data sets are linked to a selected Receiver and the scope of data to be replicated is set up.

Master Data Management

Data set

The data set contains information about the structure of data to be replicated. The user can set up which fields should be included in a data set. In the replication process, data sets are linked to a selected Receiver and the scope of data to be replicated is set up.

Item line details

The Master Data Management System setup (for Data Sets) enables users to specify the fields to be replicated. This way, even if due to the company’s policy data is synchronized e.g for items, subsidiaries are still allowed, for example to define different prices for the items.

Running Replication

While running the replication process, the system first checks whether all data sets included in the current replication are released and displays an error message if otherwise. Moreover, replication itself has to be released as well. There are several options of running and performing the replication.

Manual / Automatic

In manual replication, the user can run replication manually, from the Replication Card or the Replication List pages. It is also possible to set up replication to be run automatically by using the Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV) Job Queue module.

Full / Incremental

Full replication loops through all the records from the Data Set, including filters set up on a selected replication line (if any). If no filters have been set up, all records will be exported each time replication is run.

Incremental replication includes only data that has been recently modified (since the dates set in Last Run Date and Time on the replication card).

Direct Replication

It is also possible to use the internal CHANGECOMPANY function in Dynamics 365 Business Central to replicate data – available only for the companies within the same database.

Receiver Company Processing

To manually process any new incoming messages, the user should run the Read function in the Replication Inbound Entries window. It is also possible to set up a job queue to handle incoming transmissions.

Advanced Features

Record-Level Replication

By default, replication processes all the records from a selected table. However, in the course of incremental replication only recently modified records are exported. It may be necessary to specify a certain subset of records that should be replicated to specified

receivers. By using the Record-level Replication function, each receiver can manually mark which records they want to receive.

Deleting records

It is possible to delete records in the Master Company. Records that have never been replicated yet can be deleted when the “Allow Deleting Before Replicated” field is enabled in the Master Data Management System Setup window. For records that have been replicated, the system will automatically issue a webservice call to all receiving companies that have ever received this particular record, and will attempt to delete the record. If the process is completed successfully, the records will be deleted from the Master Company.

History of Sent Records

The history od records sent from all replications is stored.

Group Receivers

When using the Group Receivers feature, it is possible to process one replication for multiple receivers simultaneously.

Master Data Management System Events

In order to incorporate advanced business logic efficiently, Master Data Management System now publishes the following events:

Codeunit Replication Mgt.

  • OnBeforeExportRecord – allows you to specify if a given record should be exported (e.g. when exporting the list of currencies – to prevent publishing a local currency). This can be also done by setting up filters on the replication card. Example usage (Currency CAD to be skipped from export).
  • OnBeforeExportField – allows you to override a default field value with your own function. Sample usage (Currency Code CAD on the Customer Card to be changed to <Blank> when exporting to a receiver in Canada).
  • OnAfterExportRecord – allows you to perform actions on exported records. Sample usage (Fill in “Replication Comment” = new field on the customer card).

Codeunit Replication Import Mgt.

OnAfterImportedRecordModify – allows you to perform actions on imported records. Sample usage (Updating Currency Code on the customer card, this time on the side of the receiving company).

 

Implementation

The deployment of the module usually takes only a few hours and does not require time-consuming initial training for the implementer. However, data preparation tasks before the deployment may be more time-consuming. Before Master Data Management System is implemented, the company where Master Data Management System is implemented has to undergo the process involving the following steps:

1

Define the scope of data managed locally (e.g. only items and price lists).

2

Standardize data and perform data cleansing for all global data in every company to be involved in synchronization. This usually means that data numbering has to be set up with consideration.

3

Define the change/modification process for global data (e.g. appoint a person/persons at the headquarters to make decision on the changes to be entered).

4

Only after these preparations can Master Data Management System be implemented as a tool that will ensure that data consistency is maintained at the global data level.

Sample process: extending the assortment in a local company

When implementing Master Data Management System, companies usually indicate items as one of the first areas to be synchronized. It is difficult to explain why a group that offers exactly the same items in its all subsidiaries does not use at least a uniform item numbering. The lack of such unification/standardization brings about unnecessary complications e.g. in communication within the group.

When Master Data Management System is implemented, it may however transpire that only a part of the items are offered by all the subsidiaries. Therefore, in the case of distribution companies, Master Data Management System is set up for local companies to show only the items they need.

If a company wants to extend its assortment, the first step is to check if the item to be offered and does not exist in the local company yet, have already been created in the Master Company. If it exists, you need just to add the local company to the subscribers (receivers) of the item, and wait until the data is synchronized automatically (depending on the organization such a synchronization is set up with intervals ranging from several minutes to a day. Alternatively, you can run the Run Incremental function that triggers the synchronization.

Master Data Management

Synchronize

If the item is not available in the Master Company, it should first be created in such a company with all the data to be synchronized for the item, including the No., Description, Base Unit of Measure fields etc.). Then, all receivers of the item have to be defined and set in the Master Data Management System module. After the first synchronization, the item will be displayed in a local company. The local company will be allowed to fill in all empty fields on the item card i.e. the fields that the group considers locally managed e.g. an item vendor, posting dimension and planning parameters.

Error message

Please note that at the level of a local company, it will still not be possible to modify fields that are managed in the master company/headquarters. The example above shows the error message that is displayed when the user attempts to change a value in a field that is managed globally. The message notifies the user that modifications are not allowed at the local level.

Objects, versions and licensing

Objects – certification and standard objects

Master Data Management System is a module certified by Microsoft for Dynamics 365 Business Central (Dynamics NAV). Therefore, its installation does not require the purchase of additional development objects. Starting from the NAV 2017 version, Master Data Management System modifies only one standard object, and starting from the Dynamics 365 Business Central version, the module was redesigned to be provided as an Extension.

Versions – availability

Master Data Management System objects are available for the following Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central.

  • NAV 2009 (RTC)
  • NAV 2009 R2 (RTC)
  • NAV 2013
  • NAV 2013 R2
  • NAV 2015
  • NAV 2016
  • NAV 2017
  • NAV 2018
  • D365 Business Central OnPremises
  • D365 Business Central Cloud

Please note that IT.integro provides support only for the solution versions based on the Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics NAV versions that are supported by Microsoft at the time

Licensing – Central Module, Local Module

The Master Data Management System license consists of the two components:

  • Master Data Management System Central Module – required for installation in the database where the Master Company has been set up,
  • Master Data Management System Local Module – required for installation in the database where the Receiver Company has been set up.

The maintenance cost is 16 percent.

Benefits of implementing Master Data Management System

Advanced Intercompany

Faster implementation of changes within the organization

Advanced Intercompany

Easier communication between companies in the group

(standardized data)

Advanced Intercompany

A good basis for setting up integration with other external systems and standardization at the group level

which reduces maintenance costs

Advanced Intercompany

Easier data comparison for the headquarters

data is sent from subsidiaries in a standardized form

Advanced Intercompany

Faster deployment of new companies in the group by using predefined data and global setup

Advanced Intercompany

Slow moving stock reduction thanks to insight into inventory stored at different companies in the group

Advanced Intercompany

Possibility to implement centralized purchasing

Advanced Intercompany

Easier Shared Service Center management

Advanced Intercompany

Easier control over customer relationship management

e.g. the information on blocking a customer in one company can be shared with all the companies in the group

Customers

Currently 40 international capital groups uses Master Data Management System. Each uses the tool for synchronizing data between a dozen or several dozen companies.

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