In supply chain and material planning we always talk about the importance of master data maintenance. But might there be an alternative?

Let us forget about master data maintenance for a moment and let us rely on the experience of the planners to take the right decisions. This is, what practically happens in many companies day in, day out. Material planners correct many of the replenishment proposals suggested by the ERP system in terms of quantity and date.

Without master data maintenance, efficiency improvement and automation are then out of reach, but with planners working manually, at least we profit from good planning decisions, don’t we…?

but with planners working manually, at least we profit from good planning decisions, don’t we…?

A regular experience, at least in my practice, is that the planning world changes with every change of personnel and every holiday replacement. Sometimes you have the feeling that the situation is getting better and sometimes that it is getting worse. In any case, it changes with the person who is responsible.

It sure is difficult to judge whether a planning decision is good or bad, but nevertheless we have the feeling that sometimes things seem to work out well and sometimes not. Without judging the quality of a planning decision, we have to realize that different persons tend to take different decisions in similar planning situations and since not everybody can be right, some must be wrong.

What do we learn from this?

Manual planning is not only a showstopper for efficiency improvement and automation, it not even delivers good and stable planning results. There is no workaround solution for master data maintenance.

Planners know a lot of things that an ERP-system do not know, but also ERP-systems “know” a lot that planners do not know. Without correct master data, planners cannot profit from the “knowledge” of the ERP-system.

…and the story goes on…

If everybody profits from master data maintenance, why don’t the planners take care of their master data? Managers tell me, it is, because planners are not disciplined enough. But the real reason lies somewhere else… my topic for the next post.