Business Ownership

Master Data Management Best Practice #4 – The Business Has To Own MDM and Data Governance

As tempting as it is to start and finish with the technology, it doesn’t work.

One model that I’ve seen work very well is for the business to lead the data governance initiative, with senior management being involved through a Data Governance Council (which makes policy for enterprise data), with Global Process Owners handling day to day activities in their own functional areas such as marketing, sales, channels, customer support, and finance, and with tactical aspects handled by business data stewards and IT stewards, under the direction of the Global Process Owners and the IT Global Solution Owner.

This three level model (Data Governance Council, Global Process Owners, Data / IT Stewardship) allows the business to set direction at the highest level and coordinate across the enterprise, while still letting the process owners manage activities within their own functional areas. It’s important to break down the silos which are so common in most of today’s corporations, because silos breed the “islands of data” problem. Reuniting and reconciling those “islands of data” is one of the major reasons companies are doing master data management initiatives in the first place.

When MDM is driven solely by IT, the business may not understand it or buy in. In some cases, the business may not even realize MDM is there, if it’s buried too deeply in the “infrastructure”.

The hard truth is that MDM’s nature as an ongoing program means that even if the initial project is funded by IT, the business may not pick it up in Year 2 & beyond – unless the business owns it.

I’ve seen many instances of MDM programs whose first iteration (driven solely by IT) failed, until they started over, recruited sponsors in the business, transferred ownership of the program to them, and took a more business-oriented approach to the initiative.

Please let us know – in the comments here, in the forums on the MDM Community or using the #MDM hashtag on Twitter – what you think of the need for business to own the MDM and data governance initiative.

The next article in the series is: MDM Best Practice #5 – Use Your Best Project Managers and People

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