Master Data Maintenance in SAP BW and alternatives

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Written By: Sebastian - 28 June, 2019

Master data maintenance in SAP BW can be a tedious process that requires a lot of coordination effort for business users and the involvement of IT. In this post, I show you how the master data maintenance generally works and which alternatives there are.

Master data contains all important information about a particular characteristic. It describes the characteristic in more details, using supplementary properties. In the case of a product, it may include attributes such as size, color, net weight and product hierarchy. In addition, descriptions in multiple languages can be added. Consequent and consistent maintenance of the master data considerably reduces the processing effort, as all important details are available at a glance.


Master data can be maintained either via SAP GUI or, as of SAP BW 7.5 and BW / 4HANA, via BW Modeling Tools. 
If you use the SAP GUI, call transaction RSD1 (Configure Characteristics ) and select the required InfoObject, for example 0PRODUCT. Then please click on Display.

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You will see the overview of the characteristic's properties. Please click on Maintain in the top bar or press the F6 key.

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In case you use BW Modeling Tools, please open the respective characteristic. In the tab General, below Properties area, you can click on the hyperlinked Master Data entry.

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A web interface for master data maintenance will open. Please press the button New to start a wizard, which will guide you step by step through the creation of a new master data entry.

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In the first step, you must specify a key for new product and associated object family. It is always advisable to use alphanumeric keys instead of the description. For example, supposing you maintain personnel data and enter the new employee as Schmidt, instead of assigning a personnel number 1337. If this employee now changes the name to Müller or Schmidt-Müller, you will have a problem. If you do it right from the scratch, you can just change the description that belongs to the 1337 personnel number.

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Descriptions are also in the focus of the next step of master data maintenance. After you have entered the key, you can enter a description in different languages. If the texts were defined as language-dependent during the modeling of the InfoObject, enter the language key. Then you can enter the description. Depending on how the InfoObject is modeled, it can be short (20 characters), medium (40 characters), long (60 characters) or very long (1333 characters).

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Afterwards, please click on Finish, to finalize the master data maintenance.

If you do not want to use the wizard, you can use the Add line button. You can add one or more lines and enter keys and attributes in the table.

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Please save your changes using the Save button and switch to the Texts tab to maintain the descriptions.

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You can change the attributes of several characteristic values, for example products, at once. To do this, press the CTRL key to highlight the desired entries (or use SHIFT to select the first and last entry, all entries in between will be selected automatically) and select Change selected records. The same thing works for texts, but usually it does not make sense to change multiple texts at once.

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This way you can modify the product family for multiple products at once.

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Despite this nice feature, master data maintenance in SAP BW is rather cumbersome. If business department wants to add a new product, it has to go through several steps. The text is maintained separately from attributes and only one InfoObject can be edited at a time. For many business users, SAP GUI is a horror and also BW Modeling Tools is meant for more advanced users. The jump into a web interface represents rather a break in the UI, than a feature.

With Business Planning and Consolidation, SAP introduces a more user-friendly variant of master data maintenance. Users can create new master data or change existing master data via a user-friendly interface, without having to go into backend modeling. Use the path AdministrationModelingDimensions to get to the overview of the dimensions or characteristics that are encapsulated in your environment.

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Please select a characteristic, for example product line ZIAMPRLN. Using the Add button you can create a new entry in master data. In contrast to classic BW, you can also enter the description directly. You can also maintain attributes such as planner or team. By the way, you can do this also with existing entries.

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After you have maintained the master data, press the Save and Process button in the upper left corner to save the changes. Subsequently, the new master data is available and can be used, for example in planning.

BPC undoubtedly represents an improvement to the classic BW approach. The user interface looks much prettier and menu navigation should appeal to less technical users. However, it is still necessary to edit each dimension individually. In addition, it is not possible to upload master data from a file. From the system administrator's point of view, important functionalities such as validation or blocking of individual fields are missing.

With NextTables, NextLytics AG introduces a revolutionary approach to SAP Master Data Maintenance. If you are looking for an opportunity for business users to:

  • modify several InfoObjects at once using a user-friendly interface
  • lock specific attributes of the InfoObject or automatically update them with values
  • if you have special requirements for authorizations
  • if you are looking for an upload option in the InfoObject master data

then NextTables can be a valuable alternative for you.

Would you like to learn more about NextTables? Here we show you NextTables in detail and demonstrate all possible applications in our feature gallery:

Topics: NextTables, Master Data in SAP BW

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