A common seen user requirement for Master Data Management (MDM) solutions is an ability to copy the content of the attributes of an existing entity when creating a new entity. For example when creating a new product you may find it nice to copy all the field values from an existing similar product to the new product and then just change what is different for the new product. Just like using copy and paste in excel or other so called productivity tools.
We all know the dangers of copy and paste and there are plenty of horror stories out there of the harsh consequences like when copying and pasting in a job application and forgetting to change the name of the targeted employer. You know: “I have always dreamed about working for IBM” when applying at Oracle.
The exact same bad things may happen when doing copy and paste when working with master data. You may forget to change exactly that one important piece of information because you miss guidance on the copied data within your system of entry.
Using an inheritance approach is a better way. This approach is for product master data based on having a mature hierarchy management in place. When creating a new product you place your product in the hierarchy where it will inherit the attributes common for products on the same branch of the hierarchy and leave it for you to fill in the exact attributes that is specific for the new product. If a new product requires a new branch in the hierarchy, you are forced to think about the common attributes for this branch through.
For party (customer, supplier and other business partner) master data you may inherit from the outside world taking advantage of fetching what is already digitalized, which includes names, addresses and other contact data, and leaving for you to fill in the party master data that is specific to your way of doing business.