Holistic Approach

Master Data Management Best Practice #10 – Use a Balanced, Holistic Approach

This may be the most important best practice of all: use a balanced, holistic approach – addressing people, process, technology and information.

Start with the people, politics and culture, and then move on to the data governance and stewardship processes, then the technology.

The recent Gartner “Magic Quadrant for MDM of Customer Data” by John Radcliffe had a great statement: “To succeed, you should put together a balanced MDM program that creates a shared vision and strategy, addresses governance and organizational issues, leverages the appropriate technology and architecture, and creates the necessary processes and metrics.”

Another illustration of the need to balance the technology with the people and process is a quote by the inventor and entrepreneur, Dean Kamen: “The technology is the easy part. Understanding what drives people – individuals, societies, what makes cultures clash – all of those questions are way, way harder to answer than how to solve any particular technical problem.”

This Best Practices series is based on a talk that I’ve given at the Oracle Applications Users Group COLLABORATE and Oracle OpenWorld conferences a few times. The talk has evolved each time I’ve given it, but one consistent theme has been “being an MDM evangelist”. I believe in the nature of master data management and data governance to fundamentally change the IT architectures, business processes and organizational cultures (how we think of the core data that we use to run our businesses). And I think corporate America is overdue for these changes.

We’re all consumers who’ve had frustrating experiences with companies trying to do simple things like changing our addresses, stop receiving extra copies of catalogs, fixing errors on credit reports, etc. And we’ve all had the opposite experience, when a quick phone call or self service Web portal took care of everything. What a difference in the customer service experience!

And in the business-to-business world, there are a lot of companies out there that would like to make decisions more quickly, based on reliable data, that would like to reduce their supply chain spend, consolidate their enterprise applications, increase their revenue by up-selling customers, get paid more quickly by making sure invoices go to the right address every time, manage credit risk for new customers, understand customers’ corporate hierarchies, cut their new product introduction life cycle in half, and so on.

These are the types of innovations that our companies desperately need to be competitive in the next decade. The economy is improving – but slowly. As an MDM evangelist, what improvements and innovations can you bring to your company? And can you use the balanced, holistic approach to make sure that the shiny, new technology doesn’t outweigh the people, process and information sides of the picture?

You’ll succeed if you recruit the right executive sponsors; invest in creating a data governance team; design your data governance processes, and communicate how the MDM initiative is helping the company to achieve its strategic objectives. And above all, be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer. The company didn’t get into its current situation overnight, and fixing it won’t happen overnight either.

Please let us know – in the comments here or in the forums on the MDM Community – whether you’ve taken on the role of MDM evangelist in your organization, and if you need any help with it, please let us know.

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