Common Data Management Challenges in Enterprise Applications
By Vikram Chalana on May 3, 2017
In the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the challenges that come with enterprise applications, like usability and complexity problems, or data entry issues. Today I’ll focus on common data management challenges seen in almost all enterprise applications.
These data management challenges include duplicate data entry from spreadsheets, routine data maintenance, system-to-system manual integration, and data collection. Application Data Management (ADM) technologies can help address all these challenges, and we will review this in further detail later in this blog series.
Spreadsheets and Duplicate Data Entry
Large amounts of organizational data are created or received in spreadsheets. People use spreadsheets for a number of reasons like the desire to avoid enterprise application complexity or to engage participants who aren’t necessarily users of the application in a business process.
Since data ultimately needs to end up in a system of record, companies dedicate substantial effort towards identifying duplicate entry of spreadsheet data into their enterprise application. An example is accounting journal entries that are often prepared in Excel spreadsheets. Accounting managers or controllers must then approve the Excel file before they are keyed into ERP.
Mass Data Maintenance
Another data management challenge is mass maintenance of application data. This is common in situations where a large amount of master data or transactional records need to be created or updated during routine business operations. This data maintenance is often carried out in multiple steps. First, the current records are downloaded into a spreadsheet from the enterprise application. Next, the updated data are recorded in the spreadsheet. After the updated data are approved, they are uploaded into the enterprise application from the spreadsheet. The download and upload steps are often carried out manually depending on the number of records being updated. For a larger number of records, IT teams can be engaged to help automate the process.
An example of mass data maintenance is when a company decides to update product pricing. Many companies perform a price update annually, if not more frequently.
Most enterprises employ many internal and external systems, such as ERP, product lifecycle management (PLM) or customer relationship management (CRM) systems, that need to exchange data with each other. Although most system-to-system integration is implemented automatically through data integration software packages, some data exchanges need to be manually processed. In these exchanges, an output of the system is manually entered into another system. One example of a data exchange carried out by an SAP ERP customer is the FedEx shipment system. A monthly shipping statement is downloaded from the FedEx site. After the appropriate cost center is manually appended to each shipping line item, the statement is uploaded manually into enterprise applications like SAP ERP.
Data Collection and Approvals
The data that need to be input into one enterprise application are often collected from multiple teams in the organization. In addition, multiple teams are involved in approving the content before the data are entered into the system. These data collection steps and approvals should be part of the core enterprise application; however, in some cases, these processes are carried out manually via spreadsheets and emails.
One example of a data collection process observed in many organizations is the process of creating a new customer in the enterprise. This procedure typically begins with a request submitted by someone in the sales department, often after receiving an order from a new customer. After sales management approves the request, a master data team might check the existing customer records in ERP to ensure that the new customer is unique and not a duplicate. This request might then be routed to the accounting team to run a credit check and assign a credit limit and relevant reconciliation accounts. After all the data collection and approval steps are completed, the new customer account can be created in ERP.
The challenges identified above can have a significant impact on the organization, whether in terms of direct costs or indirect costs. ADM technologies can help with these challenges. In the next post, we will dive into the direct and indirect costs of data management.
About the author
As Winshuttle’s Chief Technology Officer, and Co-Founder, Vikram has been focused on empowering people to transform their ERP-based businesses since Winshuttle’s humble beginnings. He is passionate about technology that allows people to improve their lives and the way they run their businesses. Outside of work Vikram likes to spend time outdoors running, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
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