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How asset-intensive companies overcome data cataloguing challenges

In the previous blog, we talked about data cataloguing pitfalls faced by asset-intensive organisations especially in dealing with material data.

Against the backdrop of economic and geopolitical uncertainties, companies need to embed resilience and agility into their supply chain. That’s why they are still forging ahead with their material cataloguing initiatives. This allows for better material tracking and identification to increase the visibility of supply chain components and strategically plan for what’s coming ahead.

In this blog, we’ll examine practical steps you can take to ensure success in your material cataloguing and sustain the practices so they can be incorporated into your processes and operations.

1. Master Data Management (MDM)

We know that master data is the building block of a company’s whole operations, shared across business areas. In the same breath, material master supports your core supply chain operations like inventory management, asset maintenance, and procurement.

That’s why you need to have a master data management (MDM) system as a foundational structure for your material cataloguing. Via a master data management (MDM) system, you can create, organise, maintain, and view master data via a central point of access. It prevents you from getting inaccurate and outdated information—in this case, your material master data.

2. Taxonomy that follows industry standards

While a master data management (MDM) platform serves to provide a single source of the truth of your data, you can enrich the master data details via means of a taxonomy. A taxonomy is a structured dictionary with individual item templates consisting of nouns, modifiers, and characteristics—essentially the fields to be populated into your catalogue.

It’s recommended to model your taxonomy according to industry standards like UNSPSC and ISO14224 so you can identify and use relevant material characteristics and standardise the naming conventions, thus aligning yourself with industry best practices.

And how do we do this exactly? Let’s take an example of a free-text PO line item that describes a ball bearing. ‘Bearing’ is a material class on its own and comes in different types, so it’d be hard to identify which material we’re looking for by looking at this one word. Now, ‘ball’ describes the type of the ‘bearing’. So, ‘bearing’ populates the noun field and ‘ball’ becomes the modifier, which describes the noun.

Then, you can fill out other distinguishing attributes like inner diameter, outer diameter, etc. You’ll now be able to differentiate it from other types of bearings, e.g., ‘roller bearing’ and ‘magnetic bearing’, or even within ball bearings of different characteristics.

You will re-iterate these steps for all other free-text PO entries to populate and complete your catalogue for existing materials.

3. The big-ticket item — Deduplication

Part numbers are vital pieces of information, but they should never be placed in the material description (either short or long text). In your bid to clean up free-text PO entries, you may come across a lot of these. You’ll need to have a process to detect duplicates based on part numbers, remove duplicate fields, and consolidate the records. It’s undoubtedly the most critical step in your cataloguing process because the outcome will help you streamline and remove duplicate materials from your inventory.

Moving forward, you can leverage your ERP systems. Most of them provide functionality and specific locations in the master data for Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) and Vendor Part Numbers (VPNs). When these fields are properly utilised via a governed structure, duplicate materials will appear, enabling you to consolidate your inventory and immediately stop spending on these materials.

4. Data governance framework

Believe it or not, once you have catalogued all your materials, the buck doesn’t stop there. What would you do when you have new materials coming in or existing materials to be modified? It’s counter-effective to have all these done manually.

That’s why you should establish a data governance framework to ensure ongoing updates of your catalogue to uphold data quality. There should be an integrated workflow where key personnel can review and approve the creation and modification of materials. In the same breath, business rules to validate data entries should be set up as an added data quality layer.

Material Cataloguing with MDO

You’ll realise by now that material cataloguing is a time-consuming and resource-intensive endeavour.

This is where Master Data Online (MDO) comes in. MDO is a master data management platform that doesn’t just automate your end-to-end master data processes. It encompasses data cleansing, enrichment, and governance.

Utilising our ConnektHub library containing pre-built industry templates and workflows, you can align your catalogue fields with industry standards like UNSPSC and ISO14224 as well as get updated content for manufacturers and suppliers.

MDO has an expandable machine learning (ML) model that can be trained to parse data from material descriptions and extract part numbers. This accelerates and automates the cataloguing process.

And once your catalogue has gone live, MDO ensures ongoing governance through the setup of business validations and workflow-based approvals.

Its description generator module helps you generate a standard description for each of your materials with the assignment of UNSPSC codes. It has in-built features of duplicate checks to reduce duplicates in inventory and drive down costs.

We also have a team of experts to help you with the nitty-gritty details of going through material descriptions, removing duplicates, and populating the right fields based on your requirements.

With MDO and our cataloguing services, you can overcome your material management challenges, at the same time boost the efficiency and resilience of your supply chain management.

Author: Shigim Yusof