Thursday, May 9, 2013

Traceability Tip of The Day: Determine Proper Ownership of Data in Your Serialization and Traceability Solution

Leverage best practices from Enterprise Integration to retain proper data ownership in your global serialization and traceability solution..... In most cases, the system to manage traceability data, often referred to (incorrectly) as an EPCIS repository, is being introduced for the first time to company’s enterprise IT architecture.  Whenever a new system is introduced, especially one that should be considered truly enterprise, two questions have to be asked:   
  1. What Data will this system own?
  2. What functionality will this system own?
Traceability systems introduce a new data set to enterprises which is the event-based information about activities that occur to their products.  In a GS1 standards-based solution this data is communicated in and, in many cases is known as, EPCIS.  In its purest form EPCIS is simply a bridge which connects key elements from other data-sets (i.e. product, location and others) together to create context-rich traceability information that is useful to business users.  A quick example - an EPCIS event may include an item identifier (SGTIN), a location identifier (GLN), and a business transaction identifier.  On their own these data elements are nothing more than strings of characters.  Additional data is needed to give the data context and meaning.  I group these different data sets into 3 categories (which will be expanded upon in future posts)
  1. Event Data  (i.e. EPCIS)
  2. Master Data  (i.e Products, Locations)
  3. Transactional Data (i.e. business transaction details, Lot details)
In almost all enterprise environments systems already exist which 'own' master and transactional data (such as ERP and other 'Systems of Record').  A dangerous path emerging however is to include significant amounts of master and transactional data into the EPCIS events directly.   My tip is to keep EPCIS for what it was intended to communicate - and leverage enterprise integration capabilities to push/pull/subscribe to master and transactional data feeds when needed.   This will result in less duplication of data across your enterprise and better defined data management.    Reach out to me to learn more about how to properly architect your serialization and traceability solutions.

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