In our modern information-driven world, master data management (MDM) is a top priority in the CIO is project list. When MDM gets to the top-priority list, it is assumed that the organization understands the problems as well as the solution needed to resolve them. MDM alone will not resolve the data-related issues. Essential vitamins for MDM are critical to succeed in the MDM journey, and these vitamins are considered as part of the MDM initiative. Why we need essential vitamins to succeed in the MDM journey is discussed in this article.

Organizations often initiate MDM projects because similar companies have already undertaken these initiatives or the industry experts are talking about the benefits and outcomes of MDM. It is strongly recommended that every MDM project team analyze the necessary supporting components of MDM project. IT and business have to discuss it with internal experts instead of starting an MDM initiative without understanding the vitamins.

MDM is a single version of the truth for critical enterprise data. Simply bringing critical data together will not resolve any enterprise problem. When organizations realize that MDM is the solution for their problems, they also need to consider the vitamins listed below:

  • MDM strategy,
  • Understanding and adopting,
  • Organizational alignment,
  • Data governance council,
  • Data quality program, and
  • Enterprise communication.

MDM alone will not solve the identified data issues without proper policies, processes and a data quality program across the enterprise. MDM can’t survive or gain business trust on the solution without the vitamins.

Many organizations already have pockets of a data governance council, data quality controls on critical data and some of the process and policies at the departmental level. Along with the MDM project, these items must be brought together at the enterprise level. A data quality program and data governance council must be in place before the MDM solution is made available to business users.

MDM Strategy

A well-defined strategy talks about the core problem; a strategic solution focuses on the goals and benefits across the enterprise. Both IT and business need understand the strategy and propagate the strategic vision of MDM across all business units in the enterprise. MDM strategy needs to have all of the above items covered and set their vision to align with corporate vision. Finally, both the business and IT units must get sign-off on the strategy in order to succeed in the MDM journey.

Without a strong MDM strategy, the MDM team may deviate from the key goal. If this occurs, it is expensive to bring the team back to the focal point to work toward the goal, and long-term ROI may not be accomplished.

Understanding and Adopting

It is often an IT task to make the business understand the MDM solution concepts, benefits and outcomes of the MDM project. Every key business unit needs to understand business impact and results of the MDM initiative. MDM is not an IT initiative or departmental solution; it is an enterprise-wide effort. If the MDM team fails to make common understanding about the MDM solution across the enterprise, compromising business on the MDM solution is very complex process.

Approaching business units to adopt a solution after implementation is to giving solution to look for problem and they will most likely continue to follow the old ways of solving problems instead of adopting the new MDM solution. Starting an MDM initiative without gaining corporate-level understanding of an MDM project will more than likely result in a delay in meeting goals, and it will also impact other initiatives such as system integration.

Organizational Alignment

It is often observed that IT starts the MDM project without the proper people involved at the enterprise level. A well-defined project team is one of the core success factors for an MDM initiative. This team needs to be aligned and expanded across the enterprise. Alignment is necessary between teams that are executing the project, business subject matter experts, IT architects, other enterprise project experts and system owners. They need to be well aligned to develop adoptable solutions that produce tangible benefits to business units across the enterprise. Starting an MDM project without proper organizational alignment will delay the project timeline when you try to integrate the system that is owned by one of the nonaligned business units.

Data Governance Council

Data governance is a critical part for MDM to function properly in the long-term. It is recommended that the data governance council be a part of the MDM project from the beginning instead of after completion of the project. On an MDM journey, people, process and policies are very critical components to deliver common definitions of critical shared information. The data governance council should have dedicated resources to enforce policies, define processes and monitor data compliance across the enterprise. Overloading these tasks to an existing IT resource will not fulfill MDM requirements.

Often IT maintains the data rules, data flows and activities around data governance and also drives the data governance activities. Business owns the data definition, data policies and compliance rules. When IT tries to own the data governance, the business meaning of the data gets too technical and business may lose it confidence on the data.

Some of the consequences of not having a data governance council are a lack of common data definitions across the enterprise, policies being maintained at the departmental level and siloes of processes created and individually maintained. All these lead to inaccurate data in the MDM hub.

Data Quality Program

Data quality is not a one-time process; it is an ongoing process and metrics are needed to measure the quality of data across the enterprise. Often, data quality is not added as part of the MDM project plan and is done as a separate initiative at the departmental level. Prior to the MDM design phase, master data quality needs to be measured and a proper enterprise-wide data quality program strategy must be in place. Having data in an MDM repository without a data quality program will reduce employee morale, lead to lack of confidence in the data, and decisions made based on the master data will not be accurate and may cause financial damages. If a decision is made to a data quality program after implementation, the cost and effort are considerably higher than doing it along with MDM initiatives.

Enterprise Communication

Regardless of the maturity of the MDM program, the organization must have an enterprise-level communication plan defined. This will include the importance of the MDM solution, benefits, educational activities that needs across the enterprise, change process and impacts, and consequences of not following the data policies and so on. Without a communication plan and ongoing dialogue between IT and the business community, the importance of MDM will not be recognized across the enterprise and the success of MDM cannot be measured accurately.

Consequences

The consequences of having an MDM solution in place without considering the vitamins are:

  • Untrusted data in the MDM hub;
  • Problem still exists in different format in the MDM hub;
  • ROI cannot be measurable ;
  • Expensive to manage; and
  • Possibility of losing executive support.

Vitamins will keep the MDM solution stronger, get business cooperation and support, increase sponsors‘ confidence level and continuous support, ensure data complies with local and global policies, provide accurate and completeness of data, and maintain a single version of the truth across the enterprise for a longer period of time.

Many organizations do not realize that they need to have these vitamins to meet their goals. Often, the ability to view a single version of the truth gets made higher priority than accuracy and value of the truth. Business users expect that the single version of the truth must have a higher level of accuracy; if not, it can’t be called truth, and it will not be accepted. It is worthwhile to spend time with experts regarding what needs to be considered as part of an MDM project instead of starting MDM as a standalone initiative.

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