Following on from last week’s blog article where we discussed the issue of ‘human middleware’ this week we want to examine three of the typical challenges that our over-worked “human middleware” have to contend with.
1) Manual Governance – forecasting, consolidation and reporting systems typically use dimension structures that are derived from the Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) chart of accounts, but which are customised depending on the specific system. For example, a planning solution may require additional masterdata to support driver based budgeting. Our poor human middleware has to understand the differences between each of the satellite applications and EBS; ensure completeness of mapping tables; and finally prove data passed between the necessary application and EBS reconciles (usually supported by nothing more than a trusty spreadsheet that very few people understand and the burning of some serious midnight oil);
2) Report Definitions – obviously reporting happens at every level of an organisation: from an individual line manager reporting on his specific area of responsibility, to the CFO trying to understand the financial direction of his company. Each of these reports may be produced from separate reporting tools storing different definitions for key reporting constructs. (e.g. revenue). This poses our downtrodden human middleware with a new set of issues, principally trying to align definitions across multiple reporting applications and then explaining any differences to the user community; and, finally
3) Integration – non-Oracle subledgers often share masterdata with EBS. These subledgers should be made aware of any changes in valuesets, but also need to respect the business rules in EBS, specifically around valid combinations.
As you can see, our poor, embattled ‘human middleware’ could do with a hand. Their lives would be made considerably easier if they had a single tool capable of understanding and storing structures, properties, mappings and relationships associated with their core masterdata in a single location, as well as automating these processes. Masterdata governance is the tool that can provide a real boost, not only to their working lives and overall productivity, but also to improve the quality of information reported as well as the ability of your company to react to inevitable change.