Problems with master data are nothing new; companies have battled them for ages. However, users are only now recognizing the need for a systematic approach to data management just as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act spotlighted the need for a sustained approach to compliance with government regulations, instead of implementing one-off tactics whenever necessary.

Users also know they have a problem with master data with respect to their transaction systems. Unfortunately, most lack a comprehensive plan to deal with it. Additionally, cost and scope make top-down solutions impractical, especially for manufacturing and retail companies that rely on packaged software. For many organizations, the best idea is to make master data management (MDM) improvement projects an element of every significant business initiative, with each one featuring a specific roadmap indicating how to piece together a complete solution over several years.

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