About Us

Welcome to Autonomists, specialists in Source to Pay Software and Master Data consulting.

Autonomists is a company that specialises in the implementation of procurement software, specifically Source to Pay solutions such as Ariba, Oracle iProcurement and SAP SRM. Another key area of expertise is master data, its collection, validation and transformation.

With over twenty years systems implementation experience, services include requirements gathering, production of benefits cases, project planning and management, business process analysis and design, development and customisation, system testing, master data collection and maintenance, end-user training development and delivery, supplier enablement and catalogue content creation.

Specific examples of the above services can be found on this site, if you need further details or have a query feel free to contact us.


Global Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Company

As part of a global finance initiative, this client is centralising their Accounts Payable functions at a shared service centre in Prague, Czech Republic. The project, with an initial scope of 88 sites across 9 European countries, involves the deployment of two main systems, namely SAP and Ariba Buyer. The Ariba Buyer system is being used to provide sites with a desktop browser based solution, for controlling the processes of indirect goods and services procurement. Meanwhile, the SAP ECC system enables the shared service centre to match, reconcile and pay invoices, not only for the indirects captured by Ariba, but also for the direct materials procured through existing local systems.

Autonomists was engaged to assist in the design, development and implementation of a master data strategy, along with its accompanying processes and systems.

Deploying to each of the 88 sites involves the collection of data describing financial accounting, procurement logistics and workflow approval rules, along with user and role information. Once the data is gathered, it is validated and merged with the data of other sites, for acceptance testing, and ultimately, deployment in the production systems.

This client is now successfully using a scalable and repeatable methodology along with an associated tool kit, developed by Autonomists, to rollout across Europe.

H.J. Heinz

As part of a continuous cost reduction exercise and a global systems standardisation programme, this client is implementing SAP SRM to capture and control indirect material and services spend. The operational data gathered by system, enables the Procurement Team to identify and control common areas of spend. In simple terms, aggregating spend, with fewer suppliers, allows the client to leverage economies of scale and to drive down their costs.

Autonomists was engaged to perform system testing, develop and deliver end-user training as well as perform supplier enablement.

System testing included test script development, the execution of integration testing, support for business acceptance testing (BAT) and working alongside the technical team to regression test bug fixes.

End-user training involved the development and review of materials, following this a training plan was developed and courses ranging from hands-on PC based tuition through to seminar based introductory sessions, were delivered to hundreds of end-users across multiple sites.

Supplier enablement and catalogue content creation steps included a spend analysis exercise, followed by a supplier selection and adoption process. Ultimately, catalogues for both indirect good and service suppliers have been produced, resulting in over 80% of orders being catalogue based.

UK's Largest Baker

This client chose Autonomists to review its existing Source to Pay solutions and drive a requirements gathering exercise, that was used to select a product suite to meet its exact business needs. In addition, a benefits case for capital appropriation was produced, identifying tangible benefits in the form of bottom-line savings and process efficiencies, as well as intangible benefits, like improved controls and methods of risk mitigation.

After an RFI/RFP process, Autonomists was able to help the client successfully analyse and compare several solutions, identifying and avoiding functionality gaps that would prevent it from achieving its benefits case. Alongside this activity, an implementation plan was prepared that would maximise the clients return on investment, in the shortest possible time.

Autonomists Master Data Tool (MDT)

All transactional systems require good quality and high integrity master data in order to function correctly. Examples of master data include vendor details (name, address, payment information etc.), user data (names, roles for authorization etc.), financial data (chart of accounts, projects, budgets etc.). Typically, master data remains relatively static once established, unlike transactional data, such as orders, invoices, stock movements, which are a record of day-to-day activity.

When implementing a transactional system, master data goes through various stages before it can be loaded into the target system and utilised. The main stages include collection, validation, merging and transformation. The Autonomists Master Data Tool (MDT) has been proven in the field to help control all these activities both during and after a systems implementation.

In most cases MS Excel is used to collect and communicate master data. The majority of PC users require little or no training, in how to utilise spreadsheets to enter and manipulate raw data. Spreadsheets can easily handle large amounts of master data, when necessary and are also easy to communicate via email, or to store in eRooms.

Master data teams tend to define template spreadsheets when collecting data, these give a structure to be followed and try to ensure all the necessary information is captured. A template will typically give each column a heading and some comments about the data that is required along with its format. Unfortunately, spreadsheets are not very good at checking data syntax and this is the first stage at which the Autonomists Master Data Tool (MDT) can help in the process.

Within the MDT, definition files are used to describe the layout of the master data spreadsheet templates and the syntactical rules for each column of data. The MDT can utilise these definition files, in conjunction with the spreadsheet templates, to check the data syntax. Checks include;

-         Column names and column order

-         Column field data type

    Text (any combination of letters, numbers and punctuation)
    Number (valid combinations of numbers and separators)
    Date (any valid format, see column field mask, for further refinement)
    Boolean (flag indicating a value of TRUE or FALSE only)

-         Column field length

-         Column field mask (utilises powerful regular expressions), e.g.

    ^00[0-9]{4}$ (first two digits always 00, then any digit 0 to 9 exactly 4 times)
    ^(([A-Z]{1,2}[0-9][0-9A-Z]{0,1})\ ([0-9][A-Z]{2}))|(GIR\ 0AA)$ (for UK post code check)

-         Column field required

-         Column field unique key

    The ability to state that values in this column (plus when optionally combined with other columns) should be unique on every row

-         Column field lookup

    The ability to lookup the value in another template to check if it exists

-         Column multiple field lookup

    The ability to lookup several fields in another template to check if they exist in a single row

The MDT will report errors, if data in the spreadsheet templates does not conform to the syntax described in the definition file. It is interesting to note that definition files are also used to validate data when it is merged and when it is transformed. There is even a definition file that defines the syntax for definition files, however, that is probably a subject for another time.

If you are collecting the same spreadsheet templates from multiple sources, e.g. perhaps multiple sites or divisions within your business, then they will ultimately require merging into one combined unit. The MDT achieves this with its merge functionality, loading all validated templates into database tables, one per spreadsheet template. In order to avoid duplication and other issues, the MDT will utilise the definition files to validate merged data and will report errors if any are found.

Once merged into the MDT database, data can effectively be ‘checked-in’ or ‘checked-out’ on demand. This feature allows for some limited form of master data version control, similar to that found in the software development arena. For full version control, the MDT can be used in conjunction with a tool such as Subversion (SVN), the result being complete historical template trace-ability.

The final function of the MDT is to transform master data into the appropriate format for loading into the destination system. The structure of database tables in many transactional systems bares no resemblance to the spreadsheet templates used to collect the data. The MDT utilises Sequel (SQL) to slice and dice the master data into output files matching the destination system requirements. Once again definition files are used by the MDT to validate that the transformation does not break any syntactical rules and hence cause data load failures.

Although this is only a brief overview of the Autonomists Master Data Tool (MDT), it is hopefully enough to give an indication of its powerful nature and potential scope. For one client, the MDT is used not only during the initial data gathering process, but also after go-live as a mechanism to maintain master data on an ongoing basis.

If you are interested in finding out more, feel free to contact us.

Contact Us

To contact us simply send an email to info 'at' autonomists.co.uk

au-ton-o-mists: noun - the quality or state of being independent


Andreas Viklund - For the website template