In this “summer series” of posts dedicated to Master Data Management for Product Data, we’ve gone across what we identified as the five most frequent use cases of MDM for product data. Now we are looking at the key capabilities that are needed in MDM platform to address each of these use cases. In this post, we address the MDM for Regulated Products, which is about using MDM to support compliance to regulations related to product or facilitate data exchange related to products between business partners. MDM for regulated products deals with standard codification. One of the most well established standards bodies for product is GS1, known not only for providing the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) as the Universal Identifier for Consumer Goods and Healthcare Products, but more generally for standards enabling capture, identification, classification, sharing and traceability of product data between business partners. According to Wikipedia, “GS1 has over a million member companies across the world, executing more than six billion transactions daily using GS1 standards”.
Complying with such standards mandates your MDM to be comfortable – and easy to deal with – the relatively complex semi-structured data that those standards mandate, such as EDI or XML data formats (for example, GS1 provides lets you choose between the “traditional” EDI format, EANCOM, and GS1 XML). The MDM platform should also allow data mappings between those well-defined standards and internal data structures, and to interactively viewing your products according to both your internal, “proprietary” views and the standardized one. Modeling capabilities such as hierarchy management is important too, and also inheritance to make sure that standards are embedded into your specific data models, and ensure that changes are automatically applied to all the data structures that aspire to conform with a standard.
This use case also mandates strong capabilities from your data quality components, especially in terms of parsing, standardization, entity resolution and reconciliation. This may be the starting point to get standardized classifications out of your legacy product data, as it product categories may have been initially coded into long freeform text in legacy systems rather than in well-defined and structured attributes.
Interfaces may be as “basic” as import and export but they could be much more sophisticated when the goal is to connect in real time business partners and regulatory institutions. Security and access control, and other high end capabilities found in an MDM that fully integrates an Enterprise Service Bus and provide capabilities as fault tolerance or audit trails, then become critical. Workflow capabilities for data authoring and compliance checking might be important as well with that respect.
Continued on Part 10.