Part 1: Two Critical Foundations of MDM Success

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As we’ve written before, we think there are five essential elements in successful Master Data Management initiatives:

(1) some type of MDM Hub
(2) some form of middleware & business process management
(3) enterprise data quality capabilities
(4) enrichment with external content
(5) data governance

But let’s try to simplify this a bit, because it can be overwhelming to think about evaluating, selecting & implementing so many different components for your enterprise MDM strategy.

Our first suggestion would be to realize that, although technology can enable data governance, there’s no “silver bullet” technology that provides robust data governance out-of-the-box. You’ll have to do the hard work of evangelizing the need for it, getting senior management bought in, and then getting your data governance program funded, built out, and staffed.

But don’t ignore this – successful MDM programs are probably better described as successful data governance programs that implemented MDM as part of their overall strategy. In other words, data governance is the end game, and MDM technology is the vehicle that facilitates that end game.

Try having trusted enterprise-wide critical master data without having a group to manage it and disciplined business processes to deliver it – it can’t be done, any more than you can have a reputable public company with reliable, trustworthy financial statements that doesn’t have a good Finance team behind the scenes, turning them out quarter after quarter.

So we can’t ignore data governance, but we realize it isn’t going to be necessary to evaluate, select & implement a separate technology component to provide it. Create a data governance organization and processes in parallel or in advance, then make sure the technology that you do select & implement is a good fit with your data governance approach.

So that leaves us with four areas to focus on: the MDM Hub, middleware / business process management, data quality and enrichment.

It’s possible your organization will have already standardized on a particular EAI tool or middleware solution. Hopefully, it’s adequate for the new demands you’re going to place on it, and will provide a robust way to move data efficiently from source systems to the Hub and back, with a high degree of automation, so you won’t be requesting a new team of 50 data stewards to manage the Hub.

So it’s possible that if your company is a Fortune 500 or Global 2000 company, you’re not going to have to worry about selecting a middleware / business process management component. Just make sure the MDM vendors you evaluate can work with your already-selected standard.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish this discussion of simplifying a successful MDM initiative down to its two core foundation elements.

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