Enhance Data Quality in Real Time Using SAP Data Quality Management Software

  • by Anurag Barua, Principal, TruQua Enterprises
  • April 24, 2017
SAP Data Quality Management software is a data quality application that enables you to detect and correct master data errors and inconsistencies. Despite its ease of use, its ability to do basic, yet key, validations such as address validations and duplicate checks is not widely known in the industry. Therefore, the application is not widely used and organizations are missing out on the opportunity to address data quality issues in key master data domains such as customer and vendor at the source.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article, you will learn:

  • The need for postal address validation and correction
  • The key principles of SAP Data Quality Management software
  • The prerequisites and the configuration needed to use SAP Data Quality Management
  • How an address is validated, corrected, and enhanced by SAP Data Quality Management
Key Concept
Bad data has significant downstream impacts, such as duplicate payments made to the same vendor and erroneous financial reporting. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent bad data from entering your source system. SAP Data Quality Management software can be installed as an add-on to the standard SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) business suite that embeds the process of postal address checking, validating, and correcting right at the point of creation of a customer or vendor or business partner. (You do not need to purchase SAP Data Quality Management if you already have SAP Data Services installed in your SAP environment.) The driver for these correction activities is the country to which the address belongs. With SAP Data Quality Management, organizations have a convenient way of ensuring that address data in key domains enters the source (ECC or ERP) system in the correct format as desired by your enterprise or based on general industry standards.

When you enter a customer or vendor address in the customer or vendor master or create a Business Partner (BP) in your SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) system, there is a very high likelihood of making a human error. You may sometimes leave out a digit in a street address, add an extra digit in the street address, or misspell the street name. In fact, this may not even be a data entry error on your part. Maybe you were given the wrong address and you are merely replicating it in your ERP system. Take a look at Figure 1. Here, during the process of creating a new customer, I entered two incorrect pieces of information (the red ovals). I also forgot to enter the postal code. How easy is it to make this error? Quite easy. In fact, I did not make these errors on purpose, but “fat-fingered” them. Without SAP Data Quality Management software, this address would be the official address of this customer of yours in your system of record. It is easy to imagine the downstream impacts of this without my having to explain.


Figure 1
Incorrect and incomplete customer address in customer master creation screen

Consider this scenario: Maybe creating vendors and customers is an automated process triggered from an external system (such as an SAP business application programming interface [BAPI]). What if a bunch of incorrect addresses and duplicates enters your ECC system? Since there is no human intervention, you won’t have the opportunity to know about this situation, much less correct it. Organizations of all sizes and in every industry have faced this situation to some degree and there are solutions available.

Many companies tend to deal with bad data after the fact (i.e., scrubbing, parsing, correcting, and [optionally] enriching it using a software application). An example of such an application is SAP’s Information Steward working in tandem with SAP Data Services. However, the initial damage of bad data entering your system may already have been done. The smarter ones try to detect and fix data inconsistencies at the source in real time. In other words, nip the problem in the bud. SAP Data Quality Management running on ECC lets you correct your (address) data quality problem, thereby ensuring that address data for relevant entities such as customers, vendors, and business partners is complete, accurate, and unique.

SAP Data Quality Management Running on ECC: Key Features

SAP Data Quality Management not only corrects wrong addresses but also completes addresses that are partially entered. The solution works in tandem with SAP Data Services and leverages a wide variety of address databases to which SAP Data Services has access.

Its features can be put into four categories:

  • Address validation/verificationSAP Data Quality Management does real-time address validation and verification. It checks for valid addresses and detects both incomplete and incorrect addresses. The mechanism by which it achieves this is invoking SAP Data Services and using the address reference data it holds for almost every country in the world. It is important to note that you can make this validation run in the background if you wish.
  • Duplicate checksSAP Data Quality Management checks for potential duplicates and when it finds them, flags them as such. The SAP system (ECC) provides you with considerable flexibility to customize the conditions (and their combinations) based on which the duplicate check will be carried out.
  • Correction/resolutionOnce the correct address is determined, SAP Data Quality Management provides you with the correct address (or suggests the correct address that you may then accept or reject). If there is a potential duplicate, SAP Data Quality Management notifies you about the identification of a duplicate so that you can take the necessary action, which would be either not creating the duplicate vendor, customer, or business partner, or correcting the address before proceeding.
  • Enrichment/enhancementSAP Data Quality Management provides you with the option to enrich your address data once it has validated and corrected it. It uses key components of your address data (notably zip code, postal code, city, region, province, state, or district) to add geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) to your address. This is an optional feature and you can customize it.

Note
An SAP Data Quality Management version for the SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) applications works in the same way the ECC add-in does. The scope of this article, however, is limited to the ECC version.

Anurag Barua

Anurag Barua is a principal at TruQua Enterprises. He has 23 years of experience in conceiving, designing, managing, and implementing complex software solutions, including nearly 18 years of experience with SAP applications. He has been associated with several SAP implementations in various capacities. His core SAP competencies include FI and Controlling (FI/CO), logistics, SAP HANA, SAP BW, SAP BusinessObjects, Enterprise Performance Management, SAP Solution Manager, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC), and project management. He is a frequent speaker at SAPinsider conferences and contributes to several publications. He holds a BS in computer science and an MBA in finance. He is a PMI-certified PMP, a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and is ITIL V3F certified. 

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