Data Management Triptych

Presenting Your Data Management Framework, by Dmitry Kovalchuk

How to present MDM and data management to senior management

Have you ever tried presenting an MDM solution or a data management framework to senior management? I’ve done it many times – and it’s not a simple exercise. Upper management has very little time and is usually busy with corporate activities and strategic initiatives. In this article, I suggest some approaches for presenting data management solutions simply, promptly, clearly, and unforgettably.

1. Divide your solution into three parts. In 2012, I attended the Gartner MDM Summit. One of the presentations was Gartner’s Seven Building Blocks for MDM —The Right Program, Right the First Time. It was a brilliant presentation by Dimitris Geragas. But it was for people who already knew something about MDM.

In my opinion, the seven building blocks presentation is too complicated for people in business roles (especially for Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstan companies that may have low data management maturity levels).

So my three building blocks of a Data Management Framework are:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 1

From the perspective of business people, the first block is the most important, the second one is the most interesting and the third one is the most expensive. So I usually tell about each block in this order: Information block; Organization block; Technical block. I then say that all the blocks are mandatory for successful data management.

Here are the details on each block:

  • Information block. Here you can describe everything related to data. Start from a data model and metadata (at a high level). Then move on to discuss which master data domains are needed, what reference data, what classifications, and so on.
  • Organization block. This part of the Data Management Framework shows the data governance approaches you want to use: information lifecycle management, data management maturity model, organizational structure, roles, procedures, metrics, etc.
  • Technical block. This area includes the infrastructure and technical solutions. Here you can show the main functions and solutions. They should be understandable for business. Show which functions or features will be covered by each solution.

Depending on the situation, you can assign your own names for each block. Below, you can see an instance of the Data Management Framework that I have implemented for one of my clients.

Data Mgt Triptych figure 2

As you can see, the three blocks are colored differently. Don’t draw too many objects on the Data Management Framework – it makes it less readable. You could show more details on the following slides, with a drilldown for each block.

2. Divide your presentation into three main parts. Usually top management won’t spend more than 50-60 minutes for a meeting. Subtract time for introduction, benefits, next steps, Q&A and you’ll end up with 30 minutes to present your Data Management Framework. I suggest dividing these 30 minutes into three 10-minute segments: Why? What? How?

These three important questions should touch all three blocks of your Data Management Framework.

Data Mgt Triptych figure 3

I’ve named this approach the Data Management Triptych because I often have to ’evangelize’ the value of MDM and data governance. Concentrate solely on explaining the high level ideas. If you have too many questions that take a lot of time to cover, then you won’t be able to explain your ideas to the top management (or your idea isn’t ready to share with them).

Don’t forget that people mainly remember what was said at the beginning and at the end. At the beginning, I usually talk about data problems in the organization (the top left ‘Why?’). At the end, I make the case to top management that MDM or some other management implementation is essential and becomes one of the success factors of the initiative (the lower right ‘How?’).

Different presentation sequences are possible:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 4

I prefer the left one:

  • ‘Why? This part of the presentation explains why your organization has to implement the solution. You should move from block to block and talk about all the problems related to these three aspects.
  • ‘What?’ This is actually your Data Management Framework.
  • How? Here you can talk about the strategy for the Data Management Framework implementation. You can show how you can implement the three blocks simultaneously.

At this point your Data Management Triptych becomes more unforgettable and will look something like this:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 5

You can use the ‘triptych’ model to illustrate your data management approaches in infographics, brochures, intranet sites and other communications.

3. Top tips for your slides

  • Don’t use the standard enterprise PowerPoint template. Otherwise your slides will look like these:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 6

Data Mgt Triptych figure 7

In my opinion, it’s way too boring. People will forget your presentation in an hour. It’s better to be a rebel – and stand out – than just be “one of the crowd”. I think the people who set up standardized enterprise PowerPoint templates don’tunderstand much about the design of interesting presentation slides.

I prefer something like this:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 8

Data Mgt Triptych figure 9

  • Don’t use complex vendor diagrams. Vendors very often create complex, unclear charts and images – especially for business audiences. For example:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 10

Data Mgt Triptych figure 11

Data Mgt Triptych figure 12

Data Mgt Triptych figure 13

For business people, I prefer something like:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 14

Data Mgt Triptych figure 15

  • Use examples of real data. Don’t speak abstractly. It’s very important to show real examples of business problems relating to data and real data quality issues. For example:

Data Mgt Triptych figure 16

In addition to a graphic like the one above, I usually tell a story about how the Russian government changed my name from Dmitry to Dmitrii. It was not a mistake but it was a new arbitrary transliteration standard.


  • Divide your data management solution into three parts. For example: the Data, the Data Management approaches, and the Data Management platform. Don’t use a complex overview.
  • Divide your presentation into these three main parts: Why? What? How? For example you could use this presentation structure:

o   Introduction

o   Why am I here?

> Business needs in Enterprise Material Master
> Chaos in data maintenance processes
> Problems with email-based data integration

o   What do I suggest?

> A Data Management Framework
> Material Master
> Data Governance Approach
> MDM Platform

o   How are we going to do this?

MDM Program (overall slide)
Data Cleansing, Harmonization and Standardization
Establishing Data Governance
Implementing an MDM Platform

o   Benefits

o   Next steps

o   Q&A

  • Don’t use the enterprise PowerPoint template – be a rebel and you will be remembered.
  • Don’t use complex vendor graphics for business people.
  • Use examples of real data usage and needs, and real data problems.

About the Author

With over ten years experience in MDM implementations and data governance, Dmitrii Kovalchuk has worked in multiple industries and organizations in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Dmitrii has worked for several years as an independent consultant, business analyst and architect, and has experience with solutions from SAP, Oracle, IBM and Informatica, as well as in-house systems. Dmitrii is currently in Kazakhstan as a Data Management SAP Solution Designer in ENRC Business & Technology Services, where he is implementing SAP ECC for ENRC – multinational leading diversified natural resources company.

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6 Comments on “Presenting Your Data Management Framework, by Dmitry Kovalchuk”

  1. Dariusz Pietrzak 04/18/2014 at 8:54 am #

    I very like your document and details of approach. Will include some in my projects for sure.
    Thank you,

    • Dan Power 04/18/2014 at 10:57 am #

      Thank you, Dariusz. I think Dmitry did a great job on this article.

  2. Gary Harper 04/28/2014 at 11:09 am #

    Great article, though I always advise clients looking at MDM to do it in this order: Why? How? What?

    The ‘What’ part should always be last IMO, as that is usually the stage where technology comes into play, and that is always the final piece of the jigsaw.

    I have seen too may MDM projects fail because the business is to pre-occupied with the ‘What’ part rather than the ‘Why’ and ‘How’.

  3. Dan Power 04/29/2014 at 2:18 pm #

    From Dmitrii Kovalchuk:

    First of all, I try to motivate the audience. In the “Why?” section, I tell them about their problems. So that is the negative part of presentation.

    Secondly, I try to give them some hope. In the “What?” part, I tell them about the vision – their mission. That’s the positive part of the presentation. It shows the Data Governance Framework. It is the main goal of the presentation. If you have another goal, you could invent another order.

    Finally I give senior management an action plan: “How?” In this part, they discuss about how they can achieve the “What?”.

    So I give them the opportunity to take part in problem solving. If you let them discuss your Data Governance Framework, it becomes their Data Governance Framework (cheap and simple).

    Regards, Dmitrii

  4. Anil Kumar 05/14/2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Awesome guidelines and advice Dmitry. Thanks a ton for sharing

  5. Richard Branch 09/23/2014 at 4:29 am #

    Excellent post Dmitrii – it’s great to see a refreshing approach being taken to presenting MDM. I agree the traditional PowerPoint slides used by the “mega-vendors” are mind-numbingly complicated, difficult to explain and hard to understand. We recently published a blog “MDM Explained to my Mum” which follows your guidelines – we think it’s interesting, engaging and yet simplifies the issue. Likewise I am sure you will find our video “Why do I Need MDM” fun to watch!

    I’d be interested in your thoughts. Rgds Rich…

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