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Garbage In, Garbage Out: Why is Accurate Data so Critical in SAP?

By Patrice Matthias June 27, 2016 by Kelly Kuhlman

Accurate Data Supply ChainIn my experience, SAP is an incredibly powerful tool, and any organization that invests so much time and money to implement SAP should feel the same. So why then do so many companies that run SAP do so much outside of SAP?

Before you go off thinking SAP functionality is wrong or under-delivering, call a timeout. SAP, a wonderfully designed system, basically follows what you tell it to do. So, if you are encountering problems, ponder that maybe you are telling it the wrong thing. If you put garbage data into your SAP system, you’ll get garbage out. Accurate data is a must to ensure your SAP system will work well for you. Here are a few examples:

Clean Up Old Transactions

If there is a purchase order due Jan. 1, 2000, for 100 special tires, and you need 100 of those tires Sept. 1, 2016, SAP won’t create a new purchase order (PO). There is no worry – they should be here – 16 years ago. SAP simply tells you via exception message, reschedule this 1/1/2000 order to 8/31/2016 so you have it for 9/1. But you and I know better than that: Those 100 special tires from the turn of the century are simply not going to show up. There is a simple solution: Get rid of the old, irrelevant PO; garbage in means garbages out. We run into these situations all the time. How old is the oldest overdue element in your system? It may surprise you.

Evaluate the Rules You Set in SAP

Each material in SAP requires a set of rules. Let’s say you want to order nozzles once a week, but SAP creates an order every day. No big deal, you simply change an order to the weekly amount and delete the rest, week after week after week. Instead, why not get SAP to work for you – and not create work for you? Changing the rules to use a weekly lot size can easily instruct SAP to create the right order each week. So many companies set rules up and then manually work around the results. Are you constantly fixing bad results? Take a look at your rules, and remember, garbage in, garbage out.

Perhaps you are using SAP to run your manufacturing; that is a great decision – SAP is a production pro. But do you find your team constantly working in spreadsheets, not the system? If you question them, you probably hear the common answer: The system cannot be trusted. Sound familiar? Often, organizations find themselves in this position because there is an issue with routings or Bill Of Materials. Remember, SAP trusts the data you provide. If the routing says it will take 1 day to build a computer, but reality says it takes 5 days, SAP will plan for that 1 day you told it. Again, garbage in, garbage out.

It’s Important to Reevaluate — Frequently

SAP is so flexible; it is an amazing tool. But SAP is so flexible that if it is not set up properly, it will provide erroneous results. Let’s take the one-day routing issue: It definitely causes a problem from the manufacturing/planning perspective, but think also about the financial side of your business. That same routing may be sending a signal to your finance department that the cost to build a computer is only 1 day of labor, while the reality is 5 days of labor. This will take some explaining in the boardroom. An integrated system like SAP depends on the input. You guessed it: garbage in, garbage out.

Best Practices to Ensure Accurate Data in SAP

You’ve made the initial investment to implement SAP. Invest the time and effort to make the system work for you by ensuring that the data you are using is accurate:

  • Make the time to clean up old transactions.
  • Review the rules you set in SAP.
  • Keep adjusting until SAP is working well you.

 

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