How to Play Nicely in the Master Data Sandbox

by Dr. Jessica Helsten, PMP, PSM


Sandboxes.

The first American playground was nothing more than a pile of sand poured onto a church parking lot in Boston. The goal back in 1885 was to give kids an alternative to playing in dangerous streets.

Sandboxes quickly became the cornerstone of any good playground. They provide a place to experiment. A place to create. A place without zoning laws, ordinances, or building codes.

Building Joy

I have joyful memories of hours spent playing in sandboxes. Overturned big buckets became castles. Smaller buckets created guard towers. Plastic dump trucks solved supply chain issues on freshly smoothed roads.

Then, after all my hard work, I’d run off in search of an approving audience for my new creation.

Disappointing Damage

Imagine the disappointment when we came back to find sneaker tracks instead of castles, towers pushed over, and the roads wiped clean.

All my work, gone.

Don’t let this happen to your virtual sandbox.

Playing Nice in the Virtual Sandbox

The SAP Activate methodology commonly uses an SAP S/4HANA sandbox for solution validation workshops.

Master data in that S/4HANA system is the bedrock for all other data. It’s a highly integrated environment. Changes to master data ripple throughout the system and impact transactions in all application areas, operational reporting, and analytical reporting.

As a result, it’s important to establish data management standards to safeguard everyone’s hard work. Everyone using the sandbox needs to play nicely together.

Map Roles

The Explore phase usually involves creating workshop demos. It’s an excellent time to define roles and responsibilities in a RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed). Map these roles for system configuration, master data creation, and scenario identification.

In your role mapping, don’t overlook workstream-specific master data, organizational structure, profit centers, and cost centers.

I’d also recommend using a standardized template for master data requests. Include an agreed-upon turnaround time for when the data will be available in the system.

Freeze-Out

Establish a “freeze period” during the Explore phase workshop demo. Everyone agrees that they won’t add or change the demo system configuration during this time.

Communicate

Above all, communicate with everyone involved. That will go a long way towards making sure no one’s castle gets destroyed.

 

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