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The Significance of Local Master Data as a Supply Chain Resource

Christian Souza

Master Data is King!

For several years, majority of companies constituting the US drug supply chain have been facing a serious problem. The problem has had a drastic effect on the way internal IT systems work. Interestingly, the same problem has never made its way to the public. That’s probably because it has little to do with the public side of the operations, and has a more pronounced impact on the way in-house IT procedures are carried out.

“master data signifies the core data that companies keep in their internal databases to describe: their trading partners including customers and suppliers, the contract particulars including terms and conditions, pricing, legal framework, authorization, the products including self-owned and third-party offerings, and other mission-critical information.”

What exactly is this problem, anyway?

It is the poor quality of local master data. For those of you who are not at home with the term, master data signifies the core data that companies keep in their internal databases to describe: their trading partners including customers and suppliers, the contract particulars including terms and conditions, pricing, legal framework, authorization, the products including self-owned and third-party offerings, and other mission-critical information.

It's important to organize your master data as your first step!

The trouble arises when companies mistakenly think master data is something that is not supposed to change that often (hence, the name ‘master’ data). In reality, things are quite the opposite – with volumetric operations and expansion efforts, particularly for big companies, important changes are required in the master data on a more frequent (or even daily) basis. Failure on the company’s part to update the master data traditionally lead to additional costs – costs that did not show up immediately but were incurred in the longer run.

Prior to last fall, the problems with the master data were solely the company’s own headache, and didn’t have much of an impact on the way trading partners carried out their operations.

But that is not the scenario anymore. With the Drug Supply Chain Security Act in place, majority of companies have begun exchanging transaction data based upon the specifics laid down by the Food and Drug Administration. The DSCSA requires that the transaction documents including Transaction Information (TI), the Transaction History (TH) and Transaction Statements (TS) be accurate and updated regularly. If the accuracy and updates are not up to the mark, the corresponding trade partner is prohibited by federal law to induct the product into its inventory. Such a situation also requires a costly corrective routine to be executed before the product can be rendered a saleable item again. It’s worth noting that corrective routines that are an outcome of the seller’s poorly managed master data must be executed by both the seller and the buyer. The supply chain operations are stalled till a quick-fix is worked out by the seller. Meanwhile, the buyer keeps on suffering costs that could have been avoided.

A closer look at the 3T’s and the master data reveals that the poor quality of the master data manifests itself in the Transaction Information (TI). With TI statements being exchanged between the seller and the buyer with each and every shipment, incorrectly populated TI data fields due to substandard seller master data are a definite problem.

The solution to the problem is to stop thinking of the master data as merely a local, internal entity. Instead, master data is to be viewed as a supply chain-wide resource, with all the companies that constitute the supply chain having a certain stake in it. That, in fact, is the exact philosophy behind the design of TrackTraceRx, the state-of the-art, cloud-based server for securing compliance with the data exchange requirements. TrackTraceRx ensures that the quality of the master data meets the standards laid down in the DSCSA by the FDA, and the updates to the master data are timely and accurate.

Remove the Human Error Factor

The TrackTraceRx work flow focuses on automation and logging each change from beginning to end. Using our Electronic Inbox feature sets up automated technology to take control. This supports ASN’s via EDI, EPCIS, etc. Enabling the Electronic Inbox feature, removes any potential human error to your workflow that could affect your master data. This of course, is counting that your trading partners all have the technological capabilities to send this data electronically. What happens when your trading partner is only sending this via a PDF or even paper? The TrackTraceRX has an easy to use work flow wizard.  This wizard guides you into importing your data with security checks that make sure that the information is correctly being crafted before being submitted. The end goal of course is to make sure your data is being input correctly, giving you the confidence that your master data will be correct and protected.

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