Most master data management (MDM), data quality, and accompanying data governance efforts prioritize customer, account, and product data over all others. Certainly, industry-specific exceptions exist; for example, energy, utility, and oil and gas companies place a high priority on asset and location data domains, while investment management firms prioritize securities.

But exceptions aside, a recent Forrester survey of 298 business process management (BPM) and MDM professionals across industries found that 83% prioritized customer data, 61% product data, and 53% account data. And coming in at 44%, the next highest priority: the red-headed stepchild of the MDM “party” (pun intended — apologies for that), employee data!

It’s no surprise that customer/account and product data-centric MDM programs get the lion’s share of funding, executive sponsorship, and prioritization within most organizations. This data is the lifeblood of your customer engagement and supply/distribution chain, with quantifiable impacts to both top- and bottom-line success, and can be positioned as a major competitive differentiator. But even more relevant, those MDM efforts are often driven by sales, marketing, finance, operations, or risk management functional organizations — all of which are typically better funded than many human resource (HR) teams, especially when it comes to IT budgeting. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and many large enterprises spend millions of dollars optimizing their HR systems infrastructure.

Applications supporting learning management, performance and talent management, recruiting, time and attendance, benefits administration, compensation planning and analysis, and organizational charting and employee directories all require high-quality employee and organizational data.

But HR is not the only internal functional group critically dependent on high-quality, trusted employee and organizational data. Core processes like payroll, financial planning and analysis, IT access and security, building access, and workforce management also use employee data as their foundation. And doesn’t your CEO tell you at every company meeting that you — the employees — are the company’s greatest asset?

To get a sense of the current level of maturity and priority organizations place on employee MDM, and to understand how well HR and data management professionals currently collaborate, my colleague Paul Hamerman and I recently launched a survey of 67 HR and IT professionals familiar with either their organization’s MDM or HR systems. The results were promising in that most HR pros do recognize the dependency and importance of high-quality employee data.

Unfortunately, most have not been able to successfully build the business case and effectively partner and collaborate with the data management pros that hold many of the necessary data quality and MDM best practices. HR also rarely participates (either by choice or via exclusion) in enterprise data governance programs and strategies. Read our in-depth analysis of the trends and survey results in a report Paul and I just published, “Manage Master Data About Your People” and the accompanying data charts that share much of the survey data, “Employee Master Data Management Trends.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what priority — if any — your organization has placed on ensuring the management of high-quality, trusted employee data.

This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research.

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