Multi-entity master data management offers data services across MDM realms through the participation of several master data domains, such as: customer, product, service and employee. MDM enablement encompasses the definition and governance of common assets across the MDM domains. Common assets include: people, processes, best practices, policy, data, metadata, tools and technologies. MDM enablement is a prerequisite toward the maturity and delivery of efficient and effective multi-entity MDM solutions. Without MDM enablement, a multi-domain solution is comprised of segregated domains which do not leverage any common assets (like the apples and oranges in Figure 1). MDM enablement is part of MDM governance with a focus on maximization of common assets. The charter of MDM enablement is to identify common assets (people, information, processes, practices, policies, services, tools and technologies) across MDM domains (customer, product, service, employee) and to promote standardization and harmonization of such assets in order to maximize re-use, efficiency, effectiveness and value to the organization.
The ideal implementation scenario for a multi-entity MDM initiative is a top-down approach in a green field environment that is not impacted by existing infrastructure, processes and organizational settings. In such an ideal scenario or early MDM domain maturity top-down initiatives, the vision, mission, strategy, architecture, infrastructure, governance and human capital can be defined and deployed with the multi-entity aspect in mind. Such MDM implementations can leverage infrastructure, information and governance commonalities across domains and appropriately allocate systems and human capital early in the definition process, which can result in a mostly homogeneous multi-entity solution (like fruit juice in Figure 1). 
Most efforts, however, are executed in surroundings inhibited by existing infrastructure (legacy applications, tools, hardware and integration), dispersed organizational structures and suboptimal processes. This reality introduces challenges in architecting and deploying efficient and effective multi-entity MDM solutions. Specifically, maximizing the use of existing investments often conflicts with standardization of the infrastructure, information and governance across the domains. Efforts that are undertaken where mature MDM domains already exist are challenged with competing technologies, strategies, processes and governance groups that need to be combined in an efficient manner while limiting the impact of changes to the downstream consumers of master data. The transformation of distributed assets (the apples and oranges in Figure 1) toward a common set of assets leveraged by the MDM domains (the fruit salad in Figure 1) is a challenging endeavor filled with political minefields involving the definition, design and execution of roadmaps that segregate strategic from legacy systems, impact territorial claims, alter reporting structures and change role definitions. These modifications of asset ownership require business and IT executive sponsorship, visibility and authority to implement changes across the IT organization, upstream information providers and downstream information consumers. 
Unfortunately, due to situational constraints (such as merger and acquisitions, re-organizations, changes in IT strategy, MDM maturity, product limitations, etc.), it is not uncommon for large enterprises transitioning into multi-entity MDM to manage domains through separate governance groups, use competing products across domains, maintain different infrastructures and support multiple integration paradigms for each domain (and sometimes even within the same domain), just to name a few examples of inefficiencies. Figure 1 depicts the maturity and increased business value of multi-entity MDM through MDM enablement over time. It should be evident that simplification, cost reduction, consistency, efficiency and business value are realized through common governance, common information management, common integration and common infrastructure.

If your organization’s MDM governance is distributed, then MDM enablement should start with the formation of an executive-sponsored, overarching strategic council tasked with the definition of the MDM strategy and enablement roadmap across all the MDM domains and existing governance bodies. If a centralized MDM governance group exists, then enablement should become an initiative within the existing strategic governance council. The governance council should appoint a tactical execution leadership team responsible for the detail definition and execution of the enablement roadmap. The MDM enablement roadmap focuses on commonalities across the domains and includes components such as: business roadmap, information roadmap, infrastructure roadmap, program/project plans, resource plans, gap analysis, cost/benefit analysis and financial plans. The first order of business is to formalize the short- and long-term enterprise MDM strategy including: business case, charter, governance, critical success factors and key performance indicators/metrics. In parallel, an effort to document the organizational baseline environment, assets (people, process, technology and data) and asset issues should be executed. Identified differences across MDM domains need to be categorized as either intentional or situational. 
Intentional differences are supported by a valid business case, value or constraint and fall under the domain-specific grouping. Examples might include domain-specific data quality algorithms or business process steps.
Situational differences are not supported by a valid business case and are candidates (based on cost/benefit analysis) for harmonization and standardization across the domains. Examples might include outcomes from decisions based on restrictions no longer in effect, timing constraints, unmanaged growth or changes in strategy.
Once the strategy and baseline have been identified, the short- and long-term architecture roadmaps (information, integration, infrastructure), gap and cost/benefit analysis, and tactical execution plans (projects, resources, financial support) need to be detailed. MDM enablement, as part of MDM governance, will partially overlap and require alignment with the master data domains and other areas such as: information management, business architecture, enterprise architecture and line-of-business solution architecture. Many of the aforementioned artifacts will exist under these related areas, and if so, need to be referenced and leveraged as they are or used as a starting point and tweaked for MDM enablement.
A sample inventory of enablement items that might be tackled in an iterative approach toward the maturity of a multi-entity MDM effort is outlined in Figure 2 (see PDF below) it has been abstracted from prior project experience. 
The changes and challenges involved to facilitate multi-entity MDM maturity, as well as maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and value of the MDM solution to the organization, require a strong centralized enterprise MDM governance group focused on the charter of MDM enablement and in alignment with the strategic business and IT direction. In the next twelve months, watch for MDM product vendors to start introducing proactive governance capabilities into their toolsets in order to aid toward the maturity and formalization of governance and multi-entity MDM enablement. 

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