Hint: It's Not Just for Warehouses

Warehouse Inventory Technology

Not every business has a warehouse or wants one. But–SURPRISE–Material Masters are just as essential to those who don’t have warehouses as to those who do. And, in some basic ways . . . maybe even more so.

Consider, for example, an office manager responsible for providing any number of things to facilitate day-to-day operations for a major corporate player. When an office supply is needed, there’s no company warehouse at hand to dial up on the telephone and requisition stock, just the designated and centrally located storeroom for all things office-related.

It’s part of the office manager’s job to keep near at hand everything from a rainbow of pens to an assortment of printer ink cartridges and copy-machine toners for workers in a complex of corporate offices who need such items, and not infrequently at a moment’s notice. And who even knows what the precise name or stock number is for some of those, uh, thingies? This very common, but necessary office supply repository is performing like an improvised warehouse—not labeled as such, but every bit as functional as one: Material Masters to the rescue.

Or, what about a chic metropolitan bistro that has the almost magical ability to produce whatever quantity of meals the evening might demand from amongst a plethora of offerings? The restaurant supplier only comes twice a week, so is unable to instantly respond to an unusual demand for an item that is normally only ordered every few months. Are there any more of those frilly little paper thingamajigs that go on the end of the quail’s drumsticks…now what are they called? Agreed-upon naming taxonomy is just one of the strengths of Material Masters.

Pharmacies and hospitals have stringent demands for medical supplies that are fundamental yet operate under a right now kind of mandate. To make sure that crucial supplies are there when needed, back-ups must be kept close at hand. But, fine distinctions between offerings is frequently complex, varied and confusing—for example, is what being requested a D5W liter of fluid or is that a D5NS solution? Asking and answering these important questions is best left to the established precision of Material Masters.

Material Masters: Held to Higher Standards

It all cases, to be effective and accurate Material Masters must be held to higher standards. And as in the case of a medical-related facility, absolute accuracy is the only standard that is acceptable because lives may, literally, depend upon it.

Often considered the most challenging of master data domains, Material Masters are the mainstay of a business and frequently the most complex, as they are surrounded by the greatest number of users, views, stakeholders and elements of data.

Inventory Management Software

A Material Masters domain may be characterized as having push/pull or upstream/downstream qualities in reference to
 how data originates and creates even more complexity in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) environment. While some domains have a single dominant character (either push or pull) the Material Masters—just to add to the challenge—may exhibit both. (Datumstrategy.com, 2019)

When considering the need for material data governance, three fundamental areas come into play:

  • Compliance—Establishing a clear line of ownership to support traceability in process and data are a necessity. Stiff fines as a result of non-compliance to governmental regulations might be the least of a company’s worries.
  • Operations—Manufacturing line shutdowns, excessive costs of inventory and stock shortages are all threats that can bring businesses to a virtual halt.
  • Analytics—Reduced margin due to inefficient procurement is one area of concern for analytics. Inconsistencies in Material Masters data often leads to inaccurate reporting that affects strategic planning, financial output and unreliable data findings.

Many analysts think that keeping Material Masters honest is the buyers’ distinct realm of operation. Not only can reliable data make the buyers’ job that much easier but keeping it that way makes it more likely that an automated purchasing function can be brought into play.

The quality of the data that drives demand is also an area of prime concern to buyers; distorted data representing buying trends can significantly undermine the forecasting process which has influence over the inventory kept on hand. (Datumstrategy²)

Fundamental Questions to Shape Material Master Data

Whether there is a physical warehouse already in place, or no warehouse but a diversity of material that company stakeholders believe would benefit from being mastered, there are seven basic questions to consider:

  • Is there a stocking philosophy in place that supports overall business strategy?
  • Has it been decided how to translate this philosophy into effective Material Requirements Planning (MRP) rules?
  • Is there an adopted methodology to help determine these rules?
  • Is it known where to populate such a rule set in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software?
  • Do company stakeholders know how to use standard ERP tools to measure what the rules are delivering to?
  • Is there a plan in place to change the rules if it is found they are not helping with tactical execution of the declared strategy?
  • Are rules checked frequently to indicate they are being adhered to regularly?

(Sweet-Thorn.com, 2019)

The  Solution

The material mastering process can be, at the very least, thought-provoking. As has been established, Material Masters create a demanding environment that requires immediate access to accurate data, but just as importantly for those accessing it—with a user-friendly interface.

Enter the QuadraDot solution: Our Six-Sigma Black Belt led team has decades of experience assessing, cleaning and standardizing data. We’ll assess the current state of the Material Masters, unearthing poor quality data, duplicate data, and data that has become obsolete. Then we’ll work together to define where the business wants to be in the future.

Or, if you’ve been winging it on your own, but Material Masters have been on your company’s wish list, QuadraDot will help you establish your master records and then keep them performing faultlessly on a daily basis. Our consultants will demonstrate the effectiveness of our proprietary Granite Material Masters™ software, building your master data to a higher standard.

The Advantages of 

  • Eliminates the need for massive spreadsheets or databases

  • Focuses on material masters, our specialty

  • Changes can be made in batches or one line at a time

  • Scalable software that is configured to meet every business need

  • Can be integrated with any ERP/WMS system; grows with the business

  • Allows customers to import data from existing spreadsheets or external system

  • Templates can then be created for existing materials as well as new material masters and exported back into the system

  • The cloud-based software is designed to streamline the mastering process completely; standard abbreviations, definitions and templates can all be created for noun-adjective combinations

  • The proper taxonomy created enforces and quickly identifies any duplicate records

  • Standard material masters based on templates can be created

  • If needed, helps facilitate the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC)

  • The software has both the templates and infrastructure to clean the data and keep it consistent going forward

QuadraDot Master Data

No warehouse? No problem. We’ll help your business—whatever its nature or size—to flawless Material Masters functionality so that you can get back to doing what you like best…running the business.