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5 Things to Consider When Formatting MRO Material Master Data for an ERP or EAM System

Proper data formatting is essential when uploading and migrating materials data to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system. The challenge is that every system is vastly unique, each offering distinct features and benefits to the end user, which ultimately present much different data formatting and configuration requirements. Improper data formatting during the initial implementation or migration can significantly hinder the functionality of any enterprise system, while creating a ripple effect of inefficiencies throughout the organization.

In order to ensure maximum system functionality and ROI, there are several variables that must be taken into careful consideration when formatting and/or converting materials data. In this blog, we will discuss five of the most integral factors, which will help to define the optimum data format for your enterprise system.

1. Data Fields

Manufacturer Name, Part Number, Short Description, Long Description, PO Text… These are just a few of the fields you may have come across throughout your experience working with various ERP/EAM systems. Since each platform is so unique, it is important to understand the fields that are available within the chosen system, and which will be most valuable in the business process. Just because a system offers several fields doesn’t mean it is necessary to populate and use every single field. Remember, more is not always better. Carefully select the fields that pertain to your business processes, can be migrated from your legacy dataset, and offer the greatest benefit to your organization. From here, you have established the foundation for your data formatting template.

2. Character Limitations

Once you’ve selected which fields will be populated and used, you must consider character limitations. Various ERP/EAM systems have very strict character limitations, which can present additional complexities during the formatting process. For instance, in SAP the Material Description (Short Text) field has a 40-character limitation, which greatly restricts data contents, however, this is often used as the primary search field within SAP. Similarly, JD Edwards presents another unique formatting challenge with its 30-character limitation for Search Text, Description, and 2nd Description. As such, character limitations must be carefully taken into consideration not only during the data formatting process, but also during the initial ERP/EAM selection process. Character limitations will become the primary factor that defines which contents can and will be populated in each field.

3. Search Capabilities

While there is often a misperception that every field in an ERP/EAM system is searchable, they certainly are not. As such, it is important to understand which fields within your enterprise system offer search capabilities, what their limitations are, and which will best suit your organization. Going back to the SAP example, the Material Description (Short Text) field is one of the primary search fields within the system; however, its 40-character limitation restricts the amount of contents that can be populated. On the other hand, the PO Text field offers much more space for contents with its 2000-character limitation, but the down side is that it is not searchable in a standard “out-of-the-box” SAP environment. Since search functionality is one of the most important features to maintenance personnel, it’s important to find out what their search process and requirements are so that you can build the most useful and efficient work environment.

4. Contents and Arrangement

According to the fields, character limitations, and search capabilities that you’ve already determined, it’s now time to consider the data contents and arrangement to be populated within each field. If there are strict character limitations on the search field(s), it is important to ensure that the primary data components are populated first to ensure efficient search ability for end users. For instance, if maintenance personnel habitually search by part number and/or Noun, you must be sure to include these at the priority data to be populated within the search field.

Based on the 40-character limitation for Material Description in SAP, you may consider populating data as follows:

Material Description:

Noun, MFG Part Number, Attributes (up to 40-characters)



Noun, MFG Part Number, MFG Name (up to 40-characters)


*Note: Removing spaces between comma separators saves valuable characters, which can allow for more contents

PO Text:

Noun, Modifier, Attributes, MFG Name, MFG Part Number


Noun, Modifier, Attributes, MFG Name, MFG Part Number


5. Material Relations

Finally, it is important to understand the material relationship capabilities within your ERP/EAM system and determine how they will best be utilized within your organization.

a) Will you maintain a Corporate (a.k.a. Global or Client Level) Material Master, with each material record extended to their respective Local (Plant Level) Material Master(s)? Or will you create a new material record for each plant/site in which the part resides?

b) Will the same part number have a different Material Record (Item Number) for each manufacturer or will a list of manufacturers be related to a single Material Record?

These are just a couple of the questions you may want to discuss with your implementation consultant and/or integration team prior to data formatting and migration.

In summary, data formatting and migration is one of the most complex and time consuming tasks within an ERP/EAM implementation, data migration, or cleansing initiative. Fortunately, IMA Ltd. has over 27 years of industry expertise and project experience, which has allowed us to develop best-practice formatting recommendations for all of the leading ERP, EAM and CMMS platforms. It is our commitment to support customers in their effort to achieve the most useful and efficient dataset, while enabling maximum system functionality, operational efficiency, and ROI. For more information on IMA Ltd. Material Master Data Cleansing and Conversion services, visit or contact

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