How do you find relevant SAP tables for your data management projects?
We talk to a good number of SAP customers, many of whom are struggling to find the right SAP tables, programs or other components for their enterprise data warehouse, data catalog, data governance, data migration and other initiatives. The same problem reoccurs with each new project and often causes budget overrun, delays and more worryingly a lack of trust in the data by the business.
There is a solution for this, however we still find that some organisations prefer to continue with the old ways, thinking “we can do it better this time with this new technology stack because it connects to SAP”. The problem is that in many cases, unless the new technology incorporates the key functions to allow data professionals to access, analyse, curate and deliver business and technical metadata from SAP into their product, you will face the same old challenges.
We often ask how would you go about getting the metadata you need from the tens of thousands of SAP tables in your system and then provisioning it into whatever target system needs it. Then we ask who does that work, how long does it take, is it accurate and if it is delayed or inaccurate what are the implications for the project.
The answers we receive are various. Some people resort to guesswork or trying to find sample data models on the internet. Some customers have employed external consultants to find this metadata for them at significant expense. Others try to use data profiling tools to give them an idea of what the data in certain tables means based on the patterns in the data. I guess you would probably still need to know which tables to point the profiling tool at though and any results are unlikely to give you meaningful information such as logical or business names for tables and attributes and nothing concerning relationships between tables.
The most common response however goes along the lines of “we ask our SAP BASIS team to find the tables we need. They assign someone to that task. That person schedules the work and at some point the results are available. Sometimes, when we see what they have delivered we need to get them to do some rework. That takes more time. Often, we may need to do something else or add to the scope of the report or set of tables we need. In that case the process starts over again.”
The problem with these approaches is that they can all take time potentially delaying the project.
In addition, using external resources can add unexpected costs to the budget and, if you are using guesswork or searching the internet the results can be inaccurate causing more problems for the project.
One of our customers, Hydro Tasmania reported that they had spent 93 man hours to find a small group of tables using their “best guess”, hypothesis testing and internet search methods. Subsequently the same job took only 35 minutes using our product.
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Even when you have the tables and fields you wanted you may find that you have another challenge to overcome: how to provision that metadata into the other software tools you are using on your project.
These could be data catalog, data modeling, data integration, ETL or data warehouse products.
To some extent this will depend on the format of the metadata you receive or create. Is it in a spreadsheet or a recognised file format, such as CSV or XML? Is it written down on pieces of paper or in text documents? Are you trying to work with the SAP GUI to copy and paste the information into those target systems. Alternatively, you may find that you have to develop some form of integration between the format you have and the receiving system.
All of this takes time and resource further adding to the complexity of the product and potential for inaccuracy and delay.
A product based approach to finding the SAP metadata you need
So, what would be better?
Your users can then analyse and curated that metadata before exporting it automatically to target systems or into industry standard formats. The diagram provides a high level schematics of how Safyr can help you to access and shed light on SAP tables, fields and other components.
Hundreds of SAP customers have used Safyr to do exactly that. It reduces the time and cost of metadata discovery, analysis and delivery. It reduces the load on your internal SAP team. It also helps to build the trust the business community in your organisation have in the data they are given because it is easy to show them the provenance of the SAP data they are working with.