In my article in the September issue of DM Review, I talked about data management (DM) in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). That article focused on the DM framework that must be built to implement an SOA. I've received quite a lot of positive feedback, but also a few suggestions about refocusing the direction of the DM discussion on master data management (MDM) - in particular, focusing more on each part of the DM framework: process, technology, architecture and standards, organization and governance. In response to those suggestions, I've decided to write a series of columns on MDM, in the context of the larger DM framework I've already developed. The first part of this series will focus in-depth on MDM processes.

Every company has a core set of data elements used by many or most of the processes and information systems in the company. This is master data. It provides information on the company's products, materials, vendors, customers and finances. Consider data about materials used to assemble products, for instance. For materials, master data elements would be "part name," "part number," and so on. This data spans business processes such as program management, product engineering, order management, materials procurement and product manufacturing - just to mention a few. This type of enterprise-wide core data is critical to the company's success, and it must be managed effectively.

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