Official Sponsors of Mastering SAP for EAM and Supply Chain & Procurement – Gold Coast | Visit us at booth S5, Nov 13-14, 2023. Read more

Master data management for material management in…

Pharmaceutical companies face several material management challenges, impacting their ability to ensure timely, efficient, and compliant handling of materials. Key challenges include regulatory compliance, supply chain complexity, quality control and assurance, inventory management, supplier management, data management and integration, technology and system integration, cost management, and changing business and market dynamics.

Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that includes robust processes, effective use of technology, collaboration with suppliers, adherence to regulations, and continuous improvement efforts. Pharmaceutical companies must prioritize material management to ensure materials’ availability, quality, and compliance, ultimately supporting the delivery of safe and effective healthcare products. So, what’s the solution? Let’s find out!

Master Data Management: The key to commercial success in Pharma

The key to overcome material management challenges for the pharma industry is- Master Data Management (MDM). It acts as a digital transformation platform, the central hub, a virtual powerhouse where all the essential information about pharmaceutical materials is stored and organized. The accuracy, consistency, and completeness of master data are essential for ensuring the reliability and usability of material-related information.

Some of the other benefits include:

  • The Stores department can easily keep track of stock levels and make timely purchasing decisions.
  • The Finance team can rely on accurate data for budgeting and financial analysis.
  • The Production team can plan efficiently based on real-time information, reducing waste and delays.
  • The Quality Assurance team can ensure that the highest standards are met, backed by reliable and consistent data.

Here are some of the key considerations for implementing master data management for material management in the pharmaceutical industry:

1. Data Accuracy for Increased Operational Efficiency

Having precise and dependable information regarding materials is crucial for various operational aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, including manufacturing and quality control. Master Data Management (MDM) plays a vital role in guaranteeing data accuracy by establishing a centralized database of material master data. By maintaining accurate material codes, MDM enables the correct identification and monitoring of materials throughout their lifecycle.

Additionally, precise material specifications provide essential information about quality parameters, physical properties, and regulatory requirements. These specifications guide manufacturing processes, ensuring that materials meet the necessary standards and comply with regulatory guidelines. Accessing reliable specifications through MDM allows pharmaceutical companies to address quality concerns, mitigate the risk of non-compliance, and uphold patient safety.

Moreover, RFC (Remote Function Calls) ensure seamless communication between different systems and applications. Think of interfaces as bridges connecting distinct platforms, allowing data to travel securely and efficiently. These bridges enable information to move between systems, such as supply chain management, sales, and research and development.

What exactly is RFC?

RFC acts as a language interpreter, facilitating communication by translating requests and responses. It ensures that each system understands and responds appropriately to the information exchanged. So, in the grand symphony of the pharma industry, centralized management, with the help of interfaces and RFCs, conducts a harmonious performance where data flows seamlessly, allowing the industry to bring life-changing medications to those in need.

2. Ensure Regulatory Compliance and Certification

The validation process (IQ/OQ/PQ) for compliance in the pharmaceutical industry is crucial for ensuring that the MDM system operates effectively, maintains data integrity, and complies with regulatory standards such as those set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other relevant authorities. By following these validation stages, pharmaceutical companies can have confidence in the reliability, accuracy, and regulatory compliance of their MDM system.

Compliance with 21 CFR Part 11

21 CFR Part 11 certification is a mandatory regulation issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that sets forth criteria for electronic records and electronic signatures. It applies to pharmaceutical companies that use electronic systems to create, modify, maintain, archive, retrieve, or transmit records required by FDA regulations.

In the context of MDM, compliance with 21 CFR Part 11 means that the MDM system must have the capability related to data integrity, security, audit trails, electronic signatures, and validation.

In the pharmaceutical industry, master data management (MDM) plays a crucial role in ensuring compliance with cGxP regulations. “cGxP” is a collective term that encompasses various regulations and guidelines related to good manufacturing practices (GMP), good laboratory practices (GLP), good clinical practices (GCP), and other quality standards specific to the pharmaceutical industry.

How can implementing robust MDM practices help the pharma industry?

By implementing robust MDM practices tailored to the unique requirements of the pharma industry, organizations can enhance their ability to meet cGxP compliance standards, mitigate risks, and maintain data integrity throughout the product lifecycle. Compliance with regulations not only ensures patient safety but also safeguards the reputation of pharmaceutical companies and fosters trust among healthcare professionals and consumers.

3. Increased Overall Operational Efficiency

One key aspect where MDM enhances operational efficiency is inventory management. Precise material master data provides visibility into the availability, location, and quantities of materials within the organization. With this information readily accessible, pharmaceutical companies can effectively monitor inventory levels, prevent stockouts or overstocking, and optimize material replenishment processes. This leads to reduced costs associated with excess inventory and improved availability of materials when needed, ensuring smooth operations and minimizing disruptions.

Armed with this information, pharmaceutical companies can optimize their manufacturing processes by ensuring the correct materials are used in the appropriate quantities and at the right production stages. This optimization reduces waste, lowers the risk of errors, and enhances overall productivity. By proactively planning for material needs based on accurate master data, pharmaceutical companies can avoid production delays, optimize resource allocation, and efficiently meet customer demands.

4. Product Quality and Safety

Without effective MDM, the MRP Process and BOM management can become chaotic. Imagine the consequences if the MRP process fails to accurately forecast the material requirements or if the BOMs are outdated or incomplete. It could result in delays, shortages of critical materials, compromised product quality, or even regulatory compliance issues. Ultimately, a patient’s health could be put at risk.

MDM keeps a close watch on quality control parameters, which are like the gold standard for materials used in pharmaceutical production. These parameters include things like purity, potency, and impurity limits, and they ensure that the materials meet the required quality standards. By carefully monitoring and controlling these parameters, pharmaceutical companies can make sure that only materials of the highest quality are used in making medications. MDM also takes care of managing batch numbers, which are unique identifiers assigned to each group of materials used in production. It’s like giving each batch its own special name tag.

With MDM, your company gains a clear understanding of the materials needed for production, enabling better planning and procurement. In a nutshell, MDM acts as a diligent guardian, making sure that the materials used in pharmaceutical production are of the highest quality and that everything is handled and stored correctly. It helps ensure that medications are safe, effective, and reliable for patients who rely on them.

5. Supply Chain Optimization

Imagine a world where information flows seamlessly and everyone is on the same page. That’s what master data management (MDM) does in the pharmaceutical industry. By providing accurate and integrated material data across different systems and departments, MDM breaks down barriers that often slow down the supply chain.

Here are some of the ways in which MDM boosts supply chain efficiency:

Eliminate data silos

One of the key benefits of MDM is that it eliminates data silos. MDM is more like having a reliable go-to spot where everyone can access the same information. This integration fosters collaboration, improves communication, and helps stakeholders make better decisions. With everyone working from the same page, inventory management, supplier selection, and demand forecasting become more efficient and effective.

Eliminating duplicates and inconsistencies

MDM boosts supply chain optimization by eliminating duplicates and inconsistencies in material data. Master data management ensures that material data is standardized, consistent, and free from duplicates. This means smoother processes, fewer errors, and more accurate information. And you know what that means? Improved supply chain efficiency!

In the pharmaceutical industry, managing the product lifecycle is particularly crucial due to the regulatory requirements, quality control standards, and safety considerations associated with pharmaceutical products. Here’s a breakdown of the different components of the product lifecycle mentioned:

Raw Materials (RM): Raw materials refer to the substances or ingredients used in the production of pharmaceutical products. Effective management of RM involves tracking and maintaining accurate information about suppliers, specifications, certificates of analysis, expiration dates, and any other relevant data associated with the raw materials.

Packaging Materials (PM): Packaging materials encompass the containers, labels, inserts, and other materials used for packaging pharmaceutical products. Managing the lifecycle of PM involves maintaining information about packaging specifications, suppliers, artwork designs, batch numbers, and other relevant details.

Finished Goods (FG): Finished goods are the final pharmaceutical products ready for distribution and use. Managing the lifecycle of FG entails capturing and maintaining comprehensive information about product specifications, formulations, manufacturing processes, quality control test results, regulatory approvals, expiration dates, and other pertinent data.

Semi-Finished Goods (SFG): Semi-finished goods refer to partially processed products that undergo further manufacturing steps before becoming finished goods. Effective management of SFG involves tracking the status, location, and relevant information related to these products as they progress through the manufacturing process.

Overall, efficient management of the product lifecycle within master data management for the pharmaceutical industry ensures delivery of safe and high-quality pharmaceutical products to the market.

6. Traceability and Recall Management

Imagine you’re in charge of making sure that the medications people rely on are safe and trustworthy. It’s a big responsibility, right? One important job of MDM is to make sure that materials used in pharmaceutical production can be traced and tracked accurately. It’s like having a detailed map that shows exactly where everything comes from and where it goes. MDM keeps comprehensive and up-to-date material master data, which includes important information like material codes, batch numbers, manufacturing dates, and supplier details.

Accurate tracing of materials becomes super important during product recalls or when quality issues arise. Imagine there’s a problem with a particular product, and a recall needs to happen. MDM comes to the rescue by quickly pinpointing the affected materials using the traceability data stored in the material master data. MDM also plays a vital role in investigating and figuring out the root cause of quality issues or non-conformances. When something goes wrong, we need to find out why and fix it.

7. Cost and Procurement Process Optimization

One way MDM helps you save costs is by optimizing your procurement processes. You know how important it is to choose the right suppliers and negotiate the best prices, right? Well, MDM gives you the power to make informed decisions. With accurate and up-to-date material data, you can see exactly what you need, the specifications required, and how well suppliers are performing. It’s like having a personal assistant that keeps track of everything for you, helping you save money and make smart choices.

But that’s not all! MDM also helps you identify opportunities to reduce costs and optimize your processes. It’s like having a financial advisor that looks at your expenses, finds ways to cut unnecessary costs, and helps you become more efficient.

8. Decision Making

Imagine you’re a brilliant scientist working in the pharmaceutical industry, dedicated to discovering life-saving medicines. Every day, you’re faced with important decisions that can have a profound impact on the health and well-being of countless people around the world. In such a critical field, time is of the essence, and you need to make informed choices quickly and efficiently.

One of the standout features of MDM is its ability to provide you with powerful dashboards and reports. Just like a skilled storyteller, these visualizations present complex data in a simple and engaging way. Instead of drowning in a sea of numbers and figures, MDM brings your data to life, offering insights and trends that are easy to understand at a glance.

Let’s say you’re researching the efficacy of a potential new drug. With MDM’s dashboards, you can quickly view the latest clinical trial results, patient data, and adverse reactions, all neatly organized and presented in visually appealing charts and graphs. You no longer have to spend hours combing through spreadsheets and documents, trying to make sense of scattered information. MDM does the heavy lifting for you, delivering the data you need, when you need it.


In this fast-paced world of scientific advancements, MDM acts as your trusted ally, enabling you to stay one step ahead. By establishing and maintaining accurate, consistent, and complete master data, companies can enhance decision-making, optimize processes, ensure regulatory compliance, and improve supply chain operations. Pharmaceutical companies that implement effective MDM practices can streamline their operations, meet regulatory requirements, deliver high-quality products, optimize their supply chain, and achieve cost efficiencies.