Although cross-company data sharing is possible in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations/Finance & Supply Chain Management (D365 F&O/F&SCM), the options for master data management are limited. You cannot share selected master data with all companies and the standard doesn't allow you to share master data with external sources. Additionally, the role of a data steward would be limited as you cannot manage master data creation, so you cannot assign fields to team members, assign time limits or approval-based roles within D365 F&O/F&SCM. Nor can you manage data quality beyond the standard validations unless you decide to use an add-on solution.
At To-Increase, we do our best to understand customer challenges within Microsoft Dynamics-based ERPs and work toward building no-code/low-code solutions that are designed for business users to simplify day-to-day tasks. In the last few years, we have launched MDM Studio for D365F&O/F&SCM for master data management, built on our advanced integration engine – Connectivity Studio. In March 2021, we launched Data Quality Studio for D365 F&O/F&SCM for data quality management. And earlier this year, we launched Data Entry Workflow to help our customers streamline the data entry process. All these solutions combined make up our Master Data Management suite.
During our most recent webinar, ‘Control your Master Data in D365’, we presented our master data management solutions together for the first time. Post that, we have been getting a lot of questions about the pros and cons of our solution, so we will be presenting both in this blog.
We share an overview of the MDM suite in the video below:
Benefits of the Master Data Management suite for D365
1) Easily integrated with D365
One of the biggest advantages of using our solution in comparison to other solutions in the market is that our solutions are embedded in Dynamics 365 F&O. So, they are built using the same business logic and provide the same user experience. In fact, you can access our solutions from the D365 dashboard, after you log into the ERP. And data transfer and access are seamless between our solution and D365.
All our solutions that are part of the master data management suite are low-code/no-code configuration-based solutions. They have been designed keeping business users in mind, so they are easy to use and some of our solutions have in-built tutorials to help users get started quickly.
Using our solutions, you can add on as many legal entities as you subscribe for. So, if you decide to implement the project in phases and implement it for one company at a time or haven’t created companies within Dynamics 365, you can do that too. Also, in the case of you acquiring a new company, you can get IT to get that company quickly set up in the master data management solution.
4) Distribute and manage master data
You can use our MDM Studio solution to easily control and manage the distribution of master data within your companies and external systems. Our MDM Studio is built on top of our advanced integration engine Connectivity Studio, so you can connect your ERP, business systems, and applications and manage data synchronization easily simply by configurations.
5) Secure your master data
Using the Dynamic Field Security feature in MDM Studio, you can ensure the security of your master data records. Using this feature, you can control which fields can be edited based on role, a lifecycle state, or as per the company.
6) Improve data quality
Using our Data Quality Studio solution, you can add rules to make fields mandatory, which will reduce operational problems due to fields not being populated. You can also add transformation lists for auto-completing data, add guidelines, carry out periodic data quality checks and do lots more to ensure the data entered in the system has lesser human errors.
7) Streamline data entry
Using the Designer feature in the Data Entry Workflow solution, you can easily configure workflow templates for data entry, assign specific fields to users and ensure a streamlined data entry process with a role-based workflow-driven structure.
8) Validate data easily
Our solutions give you the option to validate data using external or internal sources. Using the Data Quality solution, you can connect to web services and authenticate data through external paid services such as email addresses, postal addresses, and so on. And using the Data Entry Workflow solution, you can assign an approval step to ensure critical details are validated internally, such as the credit limit for customers.
9) Manage master data centrally or de-centrally
In some companies, it might be important to manage data centrally, so that you have one source of truth that is managed by the data steward. And in cases where you have different legal entities and want that data managed de-centrally, it might be better to do that using MDM Studio. Whatever your approach, the solution provides you the flexibility of both and as a result, your employees get high-quality data consistently.
10) Eliminate data duplication and data silos
Using our Connectivity Studio solution, you can ensure that your application landscape is integrated and that you do not have data silos or data duplication due to your employees manually copying data between systems. Additionally, you can configure data duplication checks for particular fields, such as customer names, using Data Quality Studio.
You can configure the synchronization of data between systems and also transfer master data between companies or other integrated systems such as CRM, or HRM systems. Our integration engine allows you to map data based on global, regional, or local data so that you can share only those master data details with specific systems or companies.
11) Enrich imported data prior to publishing
When we integrate or receive data from other systems into the ERP, it could be master data from an external company or another system. Before publishing it as master data to the organization, we can ensure that the master data is first enriched using one of our solutions.
For example, when you create a customer in the CRM system, there are limited fields to populate compared to an ERP system such as D365 FO. So, when we transfer the customer data from the CRM to D365, many more fields need to be filled in before you can carry out any transactions, such as a sales order. Using our Connectivity Studio solution, you can import that data into the Data Entry Workflow solution, create a workflow and assign the fields to be filled in by specific data owners before you publish the customer’s data as master data to the rest of the organization.
12) Audit existing data
Using our data quality solution, you can assess your existing data that is already in the D365 ERP system. You can also use it to run a web service and check older email addresses or postal codes of existing data on forms.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say a user of Dynamics 365 who hasn’t been using Data Quality Studio implements the solution after using the ERP for a few years. An important field for the user is the terms of delivery on all the customer forms. So, for new customers, that field can be made mandatory by adding a new data policy in Data Quality Studio. But for older data, you can run a check on all the records to see if the terms of delivery field have been filled in.
13) Enrich master data outside D365
Even if D365 is not the master of your organization’s master data or if you have master data in other solutions such as CRM, or PIM, etc. you can use our solutions for D365. You can import that data into D365 using MDM studio and then use Data Entry Workflow to complete ERP-specific fields, enrich that data, or run a data check for specific fields, and then distribute it to other legal entities.
Limitations of the Master Data Management suite for D365
1) Only works with D365
The biggest limitation of our solution is that currently, our solutions work just on D365 F&O/F&SCM, but not on the older versions of the ERP. So, using our solution, you cannot add workflows or data quality rules to data outside the ERP. However, we have just launched Data Quality Studio on the Dataverse so you can use the solution to add rules for any application across Power Platforms.
2) Business Intelligence (BI)
BI is currently not a feature of our master data management suite, but we do have separate solutions for data modeling and analytics for D365F&O/F&SCM. Based on customer feedback, we would be open to exploring business intelligence for master data as a concept and adding it to our roadmap in the future.
3) Security and Compliance
Although our master data management solutions are secure, they cannot prevent fraud and misuse of information. To ensure that you are adhering to regulatory compliance governed by laws such as GDPR and ISO, having a security solution in addition to master data management is important. You can either explore our Security and Compliance Studio solution or evaluate other solutions in the market to ensure the security of your master data.
4) Extensive Duplicate checks
While you can run a duplicate check or add a rule for specific fields using Data Quality Studio, you cannot run an extensive duplicate check using our solution. If we do understand that our customers have a need for such a feature in our solution, we can consider adding it to our roadmap in the future.
Are you keen to explore our Master Data Management Suite for D365 F&O for your organization?
If you do face challenges with different stages in the data lifecycle in Dynamics 365 F&O, and all your master data is in the ERP, then our integration, master data management, data entry, and data quality solutions can surely help you ease those challenges.
If you have specific business scenarios, reach out to our experts and we can schedule some time for you to demo those use cases. If you want to learn more about our solution features, do download the factsheet from the link below.
However, before you reach out to our experts, we recommend working on your data governance strategy and outlining rules, use cases, and your vision. If you have clarity on these, then our Consultants can help you implement the solution and get started quickly. If you decide you want to do a phased implementation, we can help you with that too.