Master data management is a key task in every organization, supports multiple systems, and directly impacts all processes. With that in mind, our next blog in our SAP Tech Tips series (See Part 1 and Part 2) will focus on customer master data and explain how and why S/4HANA 1610 is ideally positioned to become your system of record for this essential information.

On a recent consultation with a high-tech client, we joined a discussion on their current process to identify improvement opportunities for customer master data. Immediately we realized that their process was vastly complex, with 21 different legacy systems, multiple interfaces and no single reliable source of truth. Coupled with necessary integration to Salesforce.com, SAP CRM and digital marketing tools, we clearly faced a Herculean task to optimize a complicated and tedious process.

However, their choice to implement S/4HANA provided us a perfect opportunity to introduce the benefits of implementing Business Partner, based on customer master data simplification of S/4HANA.  Below are some of the Business Partner features that can help deliver rapid improvements:

  • Business Partner provides the foundation to achieve the single source of truth
  • Harmonized/systemized architecture and consistent data structure
  • One Business Partner is assigned to many roles
  • Business Partner roles classify the partner in business terms and reflect the functions they perform:
    • Customer
    • Supplier
    • Credit management
    • Contact person
    • Transportation
  • Business Partners can be associated with multiple addresses to identify all of their locations within the same organization

With these benefits in mind, we can analyze a simple scenario from our customer perspective. The proposed solution to the business problem would connect a S/4HANA 1610 system to their multiple auxiliary platforms of Salesforce.com, SAP CRM and the digital marketing tool (in this example, Eloqua) displayed in the diagram below.

S4HANA 1610 Eloqua

  • The chart explains the basic data flow that we developed during our client discussions and this may change based on future operational decisions.
  • The starting point for new customers begins in Eloqua, where basic information is entered, such as company name, contact names, email addresses, street address and phone numbers.
  • From Eloqua, the data will flow to S/4, where the customer identification and creation begin.
  • Based on our data rules in S/4HANA, we may either create a new contact if this person is associated with an existing customer or create both a new customer and a new contact if this is a new organization we will be working with.
  • After the records are created in S/4HANA, the new or updated data will be sent to both the SAP CRM and Salesforce systems and replicate the new numbers to Eloqua.

We see from this review that the new customer master data is initially loaded into S/4 to create the Business Partner record. From there, the required roles are easily extended to include financial master data, contact details or vendor master data, based upon the necessary roles the partner will execute. We also gain the benefits of reduced data duplication and address validation. The corrected customer/contact master data is then integrated to the other systems for transactional usage.

A summary of the benefits our client gained:

  • Reduced data redundancy
  • Improved data accuracy
  • Cost-effective implementation
  • Optimized and integrated customer master data process
  • Easy maintenance for continuous improvement of customer master process
  • Data validation and data stewardship
  • The result is a single data platform that simplifies the current landscape from 21 different databases down to one

Visit CenturyLink.com to learn how we can accelerate your time to value and make the most out of your SAP technology investment and request a consultation with a CenturyLink SAP expert today.

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