Archive for November 2017

Late November 2017

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“Everyone has a plan until you get punched,” Mike Tyson said in his heyday. Hurricane Harvey did that to Houston and much of southern Texas and Louisiana.

When I started writing this article, I wanted to talk about TechEd and the many benefits of attending the event. TechEd is a brilliant community of techies learning and sharing with one another at this annual conference in Las Vegas.

Then Hurricane Harvey hit and devastated Houston and the neighboring areas in south Texas and Louisiana. We have customers, consultants, employees, and friends in these areas. They witnessed the total disruption of what is near and dear to us through many days of rain, wind, terror, fear, and prayer – lots of prayers!

The flooding we saw on TV looked surreal and cast directly from The Walking Dead. The devastation was real, the fear was palpable, and the connection to the community was overwhelming.

Like a punch from Iron Mike, how you respond to a punch shows the character of the fighter. And that’s how Texans responded to Harvey. You may have seen the sign on TV, “Harvey, Bring it ON!”

However, it is at the time of disasters like Harvey that we see the beauty and humanity of our community. Not just in the local community, or the SAP community, but across the country and from around the world.

The outpouring of help was noticed by everyone. During college football games, the TV commercials supporting Texas were on every channel – “The Lone Star State is not alone!”

From Walmart to the Red Cross, we saw acts of kindness, giving, and compassion. Look at the caring and giving created by Houston Texans Defensive End, J.J. Watt. He wanted to help the victims of Harvey and started by trying to raise $500,000. His Houston Flood Relief Fund has now raised over $30,000,000 with new donations arriving daily.

But it does not take an All-Pro Football Player to have an impact; everyone has lent a hand.

David Geaslen, one of our Sales Directors who lives in the Cypress Creek area of Houston, was affected by Harvey. Water came up to within inches of his home. He was fortunate as he only lost part of his mailbox – it was hit by a passing boat evacuating neighbors.

Many of his neighbor’s homes were underwater, and the streets flowed like the creek that usually runs through his neighborhood. He helped move people, furniture, memories, and valuables to higher ground, 2nd floors, and attics. He moved an elderly neighbor to his 2nd floor as the neighbor’s house flooded.

Little acts like David’s and many like him throughout the stricken area leaves the biggest impression during events like Hurricane Harvey.

A lot of disruption occurred, not the type of disruption we talk about with SAP, but the disruption of lives, houses, memories, and dreams.

If you were not able to attend this year and would like highlights of key topics at TechEd, contact Warren Norris,, 972.679.5183; or, contact your Titan Consulting Director. Check out our other informative thought-leadership articles at

CONTROL YOUR MASTER DATA WHEREVER IT RESIDES: SAP Master Data Governance Streamlines Data Management!

Do you like going to the dentist? Do you like implementing compliance and governance systems?

They are necessary, but few look forward to it!

Master Data Governance (MDG) and Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) are two of the fastest growing applications areas where, ironically, systematizing processes saves time and money. We think that MDG and GRC can benefit your company, and in some cases, position the processes as a profit generator.

Let’s face it, compliance and governance is not going away, so what is the best way to deal with it? The way to learn how to manage and control your data is to implement these systems efficiently, effectively, and economically.

Here are a couple examples how Master Data Management (MDM) and the innovation leading Master Data Governance (MDG) improves the process efficiency of your data creation and maintenance:
• For the Material Master
• For the Customer Master

Controlling the Material Master
One of our clients, a global oil and gas company was implementing their specialty chemicals division on SAP ECC. In the initial analysis, there were over 400,000 materials.

We dug into the legacy system to validate these findings and realized how much duplication was occurring between the ERP transactional, 3rd party, and analytics systems.

The problem was system and process related. There was not a system, therefore, the process was fragmented and permitted duplication in the departments and systems. An estimated 30% of the periodic reconciliation was focused on reconciling or rationalizing the numbers, quantity and unit-of-measure between the various systems.

Symptoms of this problem are exasperated in processes where variations of a material are used. This is common where Variant Config (VC) is used for materials management, quality management, and production.

Implementing MDG provides a system for effectively managing the material master. Additionally, MDG delivers a Best Practices process with rules and workflow to streamline the efficient and consistent creation of data.

Material Requests, the request to create a new material, came from multiple departments in the company. The material master presents a challenge in that many departments need to contribute to the accurate setup of the data: planning, scheduling, purchasing, and accounting are a few owners of the data in the material master.

A major complaint we hear in many companies is “it takes too long to create a new material!”. In our compliance driven world, getting data owners to update and approve the information is critical. This could delay procurement from purchasing, controlling from costing, or schedulers from properly planning the production; all of which slows down your operations.

The workflow in MDG is designed to simplify the creation and approval of the material views in a timely manner. Your systems and processes should not hinder your business, but promote the efficient scaling of the data.

On-boarding New Customers
The current IT landscape of cloud, on-premise, analytics, and governance contribute to the complexity of managing your customers aka business partners. If you have your prospects and customers in (SFDC) integrating the partner attributes consistently to ECC or Analytics is essential.

Another client used MDM, now being enhanced by MDG to govern control of new customers. The company was growing through acquisitions in the same markets and duplicate customers was a major concern to ensure proper pricing, credit control, and analytics by segment.

Data Governance serves as a bridge between the business and IT. Getting everyone on the same page was a critical outcome of the project. The first part of the project was to define who owns the Customer Master.

Every company has a different approach to data ownership.

Controlling data management is not a one-size-fits-all model. For a global beverage company, a separate group centrally owned all the master data creation. This group reported to IT, but relied heavily on the business to provide the proper attributes based on contractual agreements and existing business rules.

For a global telecom company, finance business users owned the partner data, but stakeholders in pricing, tax, credit, and sales have a clear picture of their responsibility for governing the master record. IT provided a review and veto role in the process, but the business owned the data.

With cloud-based applications like SFDC, the rules need to apply enterprise-wide at the time of creation in all customer-centric applications, not just at the time when partners hit SAP. Building and educating your organization to coordinate and integrate the creation process simplifies the compliance, creation and reporting for this data.

Master Data Management and Governance ultimately may not end up as a profit center. However, the benefits of MDG and MDM help to control your risk and costs. Achieving centralized and integrated systems to support your creation and maintenance flag data quickly and more consistently to ensure that your data is there when you need it. Maybe even contributing to generating more revenue with the right customers.

How do you manage and control your most valuable data across multiple platforms? Is the cost of compliance costing you too much?

Our Governance and Compliance consultants know the SAP business processes and can recommend the best compliance and risk strategies. Contact Kevin Kirkland,, 214.435.8411; or, contact your Titan Consulting Director. You can see additional information on our Advisory Services page at

Early November 2017

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At TechEd, I drove a miniature “sensor-tagged” vehicle through a maze of obstacles. The goal was to drive the vehicle quickly through the maze without hitting any of the obstacles.

It was challenging, and my kids and grand kids could have kicked my butt in this game.

The point of the game was to demonstrate how to track deliveries or school children on buses, and how you can monitor their route and progress. The premise is how to use technology to compete, digitize and transform the business.

At dinner, we discussed how much fun it was to play the game and talked about some of the cool things that are emerging in this area. However, one of our guests mentioned that while it was great to see these toys, they had to get more from their current data collection systems before talking about tracking vehicles, machine learning, Big Data and other leading-edge initiatives.

We got into a fascinating conversation on how to get the best of both worlds – a bimodal approach. Get more from your current systems and still have the bandwidth to initiate new exploratory projects like IoT, Machine Learning, and Big Data.

The path that we guide many clients on their journey follows these straightforward steps:
Step 1 – Automate the Shop Floor
Step 2 – Building a Preventative Shop Floor
Step 3 – Migrate to a Predictable Shop Floor

For this article, we will focus on Automating the Shop Floor.

The Journey of 1000 Miles begins with the First Step!
Where are you today? The best place to start your journey to IoT, Big Data, and Machine Learning is to have a reality check on where are you today?

The goals of automating the shop floor benefit COO’s, Controllers, Asset Managers, Maintenance Teams, Front Line Employees and other stakeholders.

If you automate, you should expect to improve:
• Product Output and Quality
• Equipment Efficiency and Effectiveness
• Employee Morale and Safety

What data are you capturing? If you are on the path to Machine Learning, Big Data or IoT, you will need to know what data to capture and is it the right data. An objective of shop floor automation is to standardize processes and data models.

From our experience, many shop floors in the US and other countries have a hodgepodge of equipment; some old, some new. Standardizing on common processes is not always possible due to the age and technology of the equipment. Modern equipment is easier to automate as it has the capabilities built into the equipment.

We encourage our clients to standardize and harmonize on consistent data and analytics models – everyone capturing and measuring the same things!

One of our customers uses SAP’s MII for their shop floor data collection and analytics system. This extrusion manufacturer of plastics uses common metrics to help them manage products and machines.

For product metrics, they capture over 50 quality and quantity metrics: weight, length, thickness, color, surface, batch, and other traceable metrics that are shared with their customers, support product quality and traceability, and analytics.

They found out that tracking smartens their business and puts them on the path to other initiatives such as Big Data and Machine Learning.

Improving OEE:
The equipment metrics support their OEE objectives for Equipment Efficiency and Effectiveness. Some of these metrics include runtime by machine component, temperature, and throughput. Accumulating these metrics help the maintenance team build their decision support for their preventative maintenance initiatives.

One challenge they faced, equipment was being transferred from one location to another. The company would downsize one plant and move lines of equipment to a location where demand and capacity required it. But tracking of the equipment as part of the move was often lost, and the new maintenance teams struggled to stay on top of the maintenance plans.

These metrics along with the equipment work order history now allows them to develop rules for maintaining the specific lines, and components. In their business, an unplanned equipment outage can cost tens of thousands of dollars in missed delivery dates, customer delivery penalties, and goodwill.

Hang a Jumbotron!
Are you looking for a quick win? Hang a monitor for each line and one for the entire floor or plant and keep score!

One of our customers enhanced their shop floor operations simply by hanging a monitor at the end of each line. After getting feedback from the shift managers, automating the shop floor improved the processes on the lines, but did not engage the employees.

They were afraid of losing their jobs to automation, robots, and technology. The client supported an open and candid work environment and discussed how the automation investments were mutually beneficial.

One solution, hang a Jumbotron to keep score. It does not have to be as big as the one in AT&T Stadium in Dallas. One large enough that line and shift workers can see their progress by lines, shifts, and plant, together as a team.
Some friendly competition ensued and surprisingly – not – yield improved, output increased, and change over time was reduced.

Another byproduct of this decision: plant morale improved, injuries and sick days trended down, and output increased.

Is your Shop Floor Automated? Is Shop Floor Automation or MII meeting your expectations? Are you on the roadmap to Leonardo? Our Advisory Services Consultants have the business process and technology experience to streamline your Supply Chain, Shop Floor, and Analytics. Contact Kent Lamb,, 214.632.5621; or, contact your Titan Consulting Director. You can see additional information on our Advisory Services page at