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Organizational Readiness for MDM

The Hub Designs Blog welcomes a great guest post by Rob DuMoulin, an information architect with more than 26 years of IT experience, specializing in master data management, database administration and design, and business intelligence.  Rob wrote a popular 5-part series called Data Profiling for All the Right Reasons, and his first article was Calendar and MDM. He brings a fresh perspective from the front lines of MDM.

Is my organization ready for Master Data Management (MDM)?

Assuming you’re confident that you can answer the question “What is MDM?” and can successfully debate “what MDM is not” with an unseasoned Data Architect, the title question is next in your readiness assessment progression.

While the question itself seems simplistic, the answer requires examination of many aspects of business operations as well as data management and IT maturity.

MDM projects focused on creating “IT solutions” to “IT problems” fail to provide true end-to-end life-cycle management, which is the key to maximizing business value. Below are questions to consider when evaluating your business readiness for MDM success. Consider the Core Subject Item to be the business object that you are considering mastering, such as Product, Customer, Raw Materials, Party, etc.

  • MDM success relies on understanding the current and desired state of business operations. Identifying and involving business champions and business sponsors is the only credible method of defining information and process gaps which lead to a true business case.  Are your business sponsors fully engaged?
  • Is there a Data Governance strategy in place already that can be used to manage business information or do we need to define this from scratch?
  • Is the business case defined and does it directly tie to the project success criteria?
  • What is the Core Subject Item of your MDM? Have you validated that business owners, Finance, Customers, Marketing, Legal, and IT all have the same perspectives, including the same granularity and the same definitions? If not, how will you resolve the differences?
  • What are the target volumetrics for the Core Subject Item based on current and anticipated business needs?
  • Is there a single Taxonomy for your Core Subject Item where all objects map to one and only one leaf node?
  • Have you created an as-is information model?
  • Have you created a to-be information model that business and IT sponsors agree on?
  • Would you be able to define a conceptual data model to describe the various high-level information types targeted for the MDM system?
  • In the case of product MDM, can business users define the difference between a version and a revision, if there is one? How do they manage each?
  • Is there unstructured data you need to include?
  • How are object related to each other? Are some products cross-sellable, up-sellable, substitutions, or versions of others? Do some contacts household with others?
  • What rules and restrictions do you have to enforce in the MDM system?
  • What additional information must be collected to allow other downstream information consumers to apply their business rules and restrictions?
  • What is the current lifecycle process used by the business to manage its Core Subject Items? What is the proposed new process to do lifecycle management?
  • What are the technical constraints your organization will be facing?

These are just a few of the points to consider when evaluating how well your business is prepared to undertake a successful MDM project. While you do not necessarily need to answer all of them before you start your project, consider making them a milestone before full budget is allocated because it makes planning much more accurate.

Lastly, keep in mind that knowledge and experience go a long way. Those who have gone through these projects before can attest to importance of laying down a solid foundation to build upon.

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One Comment on “Organizational Readiness for MDM”

  1. Faun deHenry 10/25/2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Rob —

    Thoughtful post and I would add a few more questions to your list.

    * Is the organization, including people and processes, prepared for the structural changes that could arise from an MDM program?

    * Are affected employees prepared for the changes in how they will work in the future?

    * Is there a plan in place for communicating all of the changes such that everyone in the organization understands “What’s in this for me?”?

    Kind regards,

    Faun deHenry

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