Anyone who neglects the topic of master data management is at risk of failing with the digital transformation. Maschinenfabrik Berthold Hermle recognized the importance of structured master data management early on. By introducing specialized software, the company has significantly improved the quality of its customer and supplier master data and can now initiate further digital projects.
Standardized processes, central responsibilities, limited rights and the synchronization of various input channels were lacking for years at Hermle AG, one of the world's leading manufacturers of machining centers and automation solutions. Given the size of the machine factory in particular - Hermle employs 1,400 people - this resulted in a chaotic customer data master. "This fell on our shoulders in the course of digitalization," recalls Julian Hermle, Project and Process Manager Digitalization Sales at Hermle.
Deficiencies in data quality
At the beginning of 2021, Hermle set up a mail merge campaign and discovered that the quality of the customer master data had significant potential for improvement. "We still have a lot of returns today," says Hermle. The "customer portal" project, which was due to be launched at around the same time, was therefore postponed for the time being. Hermle reports: "It was clear to us that we first had to bring order to the master data chaos before starting new projects whose processes are based on correct master data." The machine factory therefore faced the major challenge of creating an analysis of the current situation. A project team had to be put together, the processes had to be defined and the people with the necessary expertise and responsibility had to be identified. Once the picture of the current situation had been drawn, the next step was to determine the target processes for creating and changing customer and supplier master data. The result was a concrete catalog of requirements, which Hermle used to search for the right software solution. The project and process manager and his team used a classic market analysis to identify a number of providers, "but there weren't that many that made a good impression". SAP partner FIS stood out positively in the analysis and was already known to the company from projects in other business areas. Due to the positive experiences and also because the FIS/mpm software solution - an SAP optimization for master data management - was the most convincing, FIS was chosen as the partner for the master data project.
The joint project began with a kick-off in October 2022, and FIS started implementation in December. "Hermle AG did very good preliminary conceptual work, which is why we were able to quickly move on to the realization and implementation of our software," praises Sandro Pfister, Consultant Enterprise Information Management at FIS. The good cooperation between the two companies also contributed to the rapid implementation. "It was always a good fit both professionally and personally," Hermle and Pfister agree.
At the beginning of 2023, Pfister was on site for user and customizing training, and the new business processes went live at the beginning of April. Since then, the processes for creating and changing customer and supplier master data have been clearly defined and Hermle has standardized data records of a defined, high quality. Synchronization difficulties due to different input channels are a thing of the past - previously, master data could be created and edited in both the ERP and CRM systems. Now, the master data is merged in the central interface of the new software and only transferred to the production system after successful validation and running through check routines.
"The creation of new customers and suppliers is clear, and each responsible employee can process this themselves again," explains Hermle. Previously, the use of the "BP" (Business Partner) transaction in SAP ERP was mandatory. However, a certain amount of specialist knowledge was required to create master data records. The SAP optimization from FIS bypasses this complex procedure and makes master data maintenance much easier for users thanks to intuitive usability, clear interfaces and role-based views. At the same time, the rights for editing are no longer unrestricted - in other words, not every user can do everything. This was precisely the stumbling block in the master data project. "Afterwards, we found out who had previously edited which data records and to what extent," explains Hermle. As this is no longer possible - and no longer desired by the company - a certain amount of change management was necessary. Hermle reports: "We entered into a dialog with everyone involved, explained the background to the new processes and won them over to the cause."