Well, the short answer is – “it depends”! Putting aside the conventional answer for the moment, I’d say that a critical first step in achieving a pragmatic MDM strategy is that your company must agree and commit to developing a 3-5 year MDM strategy.
This is not as simple as it may sound. Successfully executing an MDM strategy with a 3-5 year vision requires a considerable cross-functional effort and substantial agreement on some vexing political, business and technology issues. More on this later.
The following situation is not uncommon. A senior executive at the company decrees that the company needs an MDM solution to remain competitive or to fix nagging data issues. The vendor selection team jumps into action, solicits requirements from business owners, puts together a vendor questionnaire and contacts vendors.
The next few months are taken up with defining selection criteria, sitting through vendor demonstrations and digesting different vendors’ current approach to MDM and their future roadmaps.
The promise of a business intelligence solution, with a Single View of Customers, across CRM and ERP systems, through a federated or persistent hub is now only months away.
The demos were impressive and installation is promised to take only 8-12 weeks. After all, the company has already implemented CRM and ERP solutions, so the next solution should be much quicker – right?
Which brings us back to “it depends” The reality is that this approach may work for certain companies. Those companies who have matured through CRM and ERP implementations, who have well defined business needs and change management projects under their belts, with well documented business processes and a Project Management Office already in place stand the best chance to succeed.
But then these are the very companies who already know that they need to develop an MDM strategy, often with the help of consultants.
And this leads us to the question of developing an MDM strategy. How comprehensive does the strategy need to be? How much time is reasonable to spend developing a strategy? Can a staged approach be taken on the strategy, for example just start with customers and worry about other domains once that is working? Can we just bring a hub up with our current customer data and go from there? These are all valid questions.
One of the biggest factors that will help answer these questions is an organizational readiness assessment.
The strategy process should develop a vision for data governance, business outcomes, business processes and technology for the company. The process will touch on situation analysis, goals and objectives, strategy development, implementation plans and change management. Involving consultants through the process can greatly speed the process for many companies.
Our recommendation is that no matter how tempting a “quick win” approach to implementing MDM may seem – make sure you take some time up front to develop your strategy with both short and long term goals. Make sure that strategy is accepted throughout the organization and that the short term goals are on the correct path to solving the longer term business objectives.
This can help you avoid having to “rip & replace” your MDM solution shortly after building it, and help prevent you from creating MDM “data silos” because your strategy didn’t take into account other critical enterprise data domains beyond the immediate situation.
MDM can be a “game changing” initiative, giving the enterprise clean, consolidated, complete data for the first time, driving increased revenue, decreased costs and improved compliance. But as Stephen Covey says, make sure you “begin with the end in mind”.