Monday, August 24, 2015

Conquering basics:Part 01:Master and Transactional data

  Well..well..well if you thought I am going to utter what is written on all those forums or on the official site of SAP then you are probably wrong. I will try to keep it as close to the real world for better understanding.So, lets begin.
 Data is basically divided into two categories:

1)Master Data
2)Transaction Data

A master data is the type of data which is referenced by numerous transactions. Lets take an example to make it clear:
Suppose you go shopping in Store XYZ, the store's Backend system basically stores two types of information:

1)Your information such as Name,Address,email,telephone number etc.(which hardly change)
2)The details of the goods that you buy on each visit.(which is dynamic and changes with each of your visits)

You might have very well guessed that the first point is nothing but master data. It is called master data because it is the reference for transaction data without which transaction data actually has no meaning. For instance if I just say a somebody bought a towel, does it make any sense to the store? but on the other hand I say a towel bought by Mr. Joe then it makes sense to the business in evaluation of sales. This reference may help the business make useful decisions such as

  1. the business annually from Mr Joe
  2. Is Joe the maximum Purchaser(star purchaser)
  3. The perks to be given to Joe based on his purchases.

Transaction  data as stated above deals with variable data i.e the data which is highly dynamic. Suppose I go to shop XYZ and the first time I buy a towel, a shirt. Next time I go to the same shop, I buy a Basketball and a T-Shirt. Isnt it changing?Yes.
To sum up, transactional data without master data is unreferenced and meaningless data(which has no meaning by itself.)

For a better understanding, you can consider master data with CUST_ID as the primary key in the CUSTOMER TABLE with fields such as CUST_NAME,CUST_ADDRESS and transaction data as the TRANSACTION_ID as the primary key in the TRANSACTION_TABLE with other fields as ITEM_BOUGHT,COST_PER_PIECE,TOTAL_COST and CUST_ID as a foreign key referring to CUST_ID of the CUSTOMER_TABLE. But surprisingly in SAP you do not have the concept of FOREIGN KEY violations by which I mean you can load transaction data with no reference to master data without any error. But surely, there will be inconsistencies in the report outputs as there is no reference to Master Data. We will elaborate on this issue later on.

Please note that SAP BI/BW itself is not a relational database. SAP BW can be said to be a collection of databases/Database Management System (DBMS) Softwares which integrate data from numerous platforms in an organised form. The backend Databases/DBMS's used can be Oracle, MaxDB,MSSQL server etc.

I end this blog on the notion that I was clear enough in explaining these concepts.  We will delve deeper into these concepts in the coming articles.Should you have any queries, feel free to comment.

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