When it comes to ERP systems, the validity of your data is everything, with even the best ERP solutions like Infor M3 rendered next to useless if the data that supports them is inaccurate.
But while keeping accurate and up-to-date information in your ERP system may sound easy in principle, in practice it’s anything but. Not only are there user errors to consider, but most ERP solutions pull in data from a wide variety of different systems through integrations. This greatly increases the scope for errors to occur, particularly in the form of duplicated data, which is the specific kind of data challenge we’re going to focus on in this article.
Duplicates are any records that share some or all of their data with other records in your ERP solution.
There are two different kinds of duplicates to watch out for:
1.Exact duplicates – two different records containing exactly the same data. Exact duplicates are unlikely to cause major problems for your organization, but they will reduce the accuracy of your statistics and data analyses.
2.Partial duplicates – records that share some – but not all – data with other records. These are the sneakier kinds of duplicates, and since they’re so difficult to detect and can have far-reaching, customer-facing consequences, they can be incredibly damaging for your business (more on that below).
Put simply, duplicate records reduce the productivity of your staff, generate errors that damage customer satisfaction, and create one huge compliance headache.
Duplicate data – particularly partial duplicates – can cause a huge number of problems for your business, such as the wrong customer receiving an order; customer credit or purchase limits being exceeded; emails and customer services calls failing to reach their intended targets; refunds or invoices being sent out to the wrong customer; incorrect stock forecasting and purchasing decisions being made; and the creation of statistics and analyses that are inaccurate or misleading. These are not trivial issues, and when taken together they will cost your company money and damage your reputation.
Removing duplicate data from your ERP solution is a 2-part problem. First, you have to find the errors, and then you have to eliminate them. Let’s take a look at identification first.
Identifying M3 duplicates
There is no native solution in M3 to automatically prevent the creation of duplicate records, meaning most of the time you’re going to be completely unaware that a duplicate is being generated. You can, of course, build a manual check for duplicate records into your record-creation process, but any manual check will still be vulnerable to human error.
Luckily, there are several more robust ways of identifying duplicate records in M3:
1.Use a Custom Script
You can implement a custom H5 or Smart Office script that makes use of M3’s native enterprise search functionality to automatically alert a user if the record they’re trying to create is a duplicate or contains duplicate information.
Some companies may even have the technical expertise to implement such a solution in-house, but if not, we at Vince can help – we’ve written error-checking scripts in M3 for many of our clients, and we would be more than happy to create a customized script for your company too.
The benefit of using this solution is that while the script is running, users will not be able to input duplicate records, and the duplication-checking process itself will feel like a native solution from their perspective.
While scripts are a great way of preventing users from creating duplicate records manually, they won’t be effective in preventing duplicates in the form of records pulled in from other systems or those generated via any integrations you may have.
If all of your M3 data is entered manually, scripts alone may be enough for you. But if you have data coming in from multiple different sources, you may need a more robust error-checking solution.
Luckily, Vince Butler has you covered there.
2.Vince Butler (VBU)
One of Vince’s smart apps, Vince Butler (VBU) is a powerful tool capable of proactively monitoring your entire ERP solution for errors across your systems, processes, and content. VBU is an incredibly flexible and versatile tool, and among its many talents (most of which we can’t cover here!) it can help you identify duplicates in M3.
Assign Vince Butler to monitor your systems for duplicate records at predefined intervals and it will provide regular reports via SMS, email, or through fully customizable dashboards that can be used by your business or support teams.
Unlike H5 or Smart Office scripts which will only prevent the creation of new duplicates, Vince Butler will also help you identify existing duplicate records across your entire solution no matter where or how they’re generated.
Part of the latest version of Infor M3, you can use the Workflow Executor to build a variety of workflows capable of automating various different tasks – including identifying duplicates.
However, this option is only available to M3 customers using the latest version of the software, and the level of complexity required to create a duplicate identification workflow is relatively high.
OK, so you’ve identified duplicates in your ERP solution, what next?
Of course, it’s possible to manually investigate and resolve duplicate records in M3, but this can be time-consuming and inefficient, requiring the user to trawl through hundreds, potentially even thousands of individual records.
Instead, you may want to consider using another of our smart apps – Vince Excel (VXL).
VXL is one of our most popular apps, designed for the simple, intuitive creation and management of data in M3 using Microsoft Excel. Once you’ve identified duplicate records, VXL allows you to fix all the errors directly in Microsoft Excel, without ever having to open a single record in M3. Simply extract the duplicate records to a single Excel sheet, fix the errors, and re-upload the accurate data to M3.