The material master record contains all information about the materials a company procures, manufactures, stores and ships. The material master database contains descriptions of all materials that an enterprise procures, produces, and keeps in stock. It is the central repository of information on materials for the enterprise. The integration of all material data in a single materials database eliminates the problem of data redundancy and permits the data to be used not only by Purchasing, but also by other business departments and applications.

The end goal of a material mastering project is a unique description for each material with consistent names for repeated data values and no duplicates

Material Masters are the single source of truth for material data in a corporation. Differing departments should all pull material data from a single material master database, ensuring that everyone in the organization has the same information for a material. ERP systems such as SAP or Microsoft Dynamics allow this data to be easily spread throughout an organization. The fact that material masters represent a single point of contact for all material data in an organization means that it is critical that the material masters are correct and consistent

The end goal of a material mastering project is a unique description for each material with consistent names for repeated data values and no duplicates. A material will often have a short description and a long description. The former will often use abbreviations of longer words such as GAL instead of gallon or the ” symbol instead of the word inches. Certain ERP systems impose a character limit on short descriptions so the goal of a good short description is to identify a material with the fewest characters possible that still make sense to read.

A long description, on the other hand, should be as detailed as possible with words being spelled out and ancillary details included when possible. Long descriptions may also have a character limit in a database so it is still important to include all pertinent information first.

Material master descriptions have 5 key parts that allow easy search and quick reference in an organization. These are:

  • Noun
  • Adjective
  • Attributes
  • Values
  • Punctuation

A noun should describe what a material is, an adjective should say what kind of material it is, an attribute is a characteristic of the material that you want to record and the value is the specific characteristic of the attribute.

Punctuation is used to separate the different pieces of the description for easier readability and text parsing. Punctuation should be consistent throughout material master descriptions. Often different characters will separate the noun and the adjective, the noun-adjective pair from the attributes, the attributes from their values and the attribute and value pair from the next attribute and value.

Material masters facilitate data integrity, save time and allow informed decisions to be made. While the process of mastering materials may seem daunting, the benefits that properly mastered materials bring a company are staggering and can optimize the entire supply chain.