Philosophy of MDM

My philosophy of MDM is simple: all things being equal, enter and manage master data in its own repository or hub, and pay the same attention to the organization and business processes for creating, distributing, updating and retiring master data that you do for other types of data within the enterprise.

You’d be amazed how often that simple statement confounds people though. They want to enter master data in their ERP or CRM system, and then synchronize it over to the MDM hub. Or they’d like to somehow do without an organization to manage their master data for the enterprise. Or they’re willing to concede the need for a data governance group, but don’t think that group will need any formal processes or technology to help orchestrate their work or facilitate it and improve their productivity.

Even though the link between data quality tools and master data management is well established, I sometimes still see people try to do MDM projects without using data quality technology. And even though synchronizing the high quality master data available in the hub should be a high priority, people (typically for cost reasons) still try to skimp on integration technology and try to get by with only the most basic ETL tools.

One of the most popular articles we’ve had here on the Hub Designs Blog was the Five Essential Elements of MDM, in which I laid out what I thought were the most important related areas of technology. In it, I included the MDM hub itself, of course, and also data quality, data integration, middleware, third party content and data governance (which of course, is not really technology, but needs to be included because it too is so often forgotten).

So getting back to the focus of this article, my philosophy of MDM is to have all of the essential elements, to have a sound vision and strategy for MDM, a strong business case based on metrics, to create a governance framework and organization to carry it out, to design governance processes, and then (last but not least) to implement technology to facilitate the governance needed to support the enterprise’s master data requirements.

So often today, we see organizations taking a technology-driven approach, or leaving out important parts of the above approach.  Have you thought your MDM initiative all the way through?

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2 Comments on “Philosophy of MDM”

  1. Lakshmikanth Upadrasta 06/29/2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Dan,

    The keys issue with MDM is the complexity and the sheer size. Imagine a large corporate with various businesses within the group trying to get the single view of the customer. This kind of herculian task will take a long time to realize the benefits. Invariably the business focus changes over time making the investment a sunk cost.

    I strongly beleive that a use case driven approach (delivering one of the benefits at a time in short term) with a long term goal is the key to a successful MDM.

    Lakshmikanth

  2. Dan Power 06/30/2010 at 11:37 am #

    What a great comment! MDM can take a long time. We always advise thinking of MDM as a long term program, not a short term project, and breaking the project up into a series of discrete, manageable phases, or “use cases” as you term them.

    That gives the business some short term wins, while still staying focused o the longer term vision. Without that, the program is just bouncing from one quarterly “priority” to another, with no overall direction or guiding vision.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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