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Mastering Master Data Management

For the coveted "single view" of your customers, think MDM.
Why We Fail At Data Management

One of the main criticisms of MDM suites is that they cost a lot of money but deliver a low return. One option to reduce costs and increase ROI is virtual MDM software that can manage multiple master data domains. IT gains a single view of master data, with data governance and data quality issues addressed at the virtual, not physical, layer. Virtual MDM saves money by using abstraction layers in data modeling to create an MDM metadata catalog, without actually moving or consolidating data from its sources. Incoming requests from business applications, like ERP and CRM, can be processed dynamically, eliminating the need for data warehouse repositories.

MDM projects also fail because of problems validating data integrity, lack of data governance and executive support, and an inadequate focus on business processes. End-to-end data validation testing is critical during an MDM project and on an ongoing basis.

Before implementing any MDM tool, address data quality--first by defining what, exactly, quality is, something that may depend on your industry. For some companies, quality may simply be meeting customer expectations, while in another, quality relates to the number of defects. What's important is that desired data traits are defined and measurable.

Design your MDM architecture before trying to determine the best tools for your company. Is a single, unified view of master data sufficient, or will you maintain multiple instances, where master data is pushed out to various locations and stored locally? How is the system going to merge, reconcile, and maintain versions, and audit data modifications? Ideally, the MDM system will maintain a data hierarchy.

Is an MDM suite necessary, or could a less costly data integration project fill the bill? Based on your business processes, design a data model and data maintenance plan. Identifying data sources, producers, and consumers will be beneficial, irrespective of whether you undertake an MDM project.

Work to establish trust between data consumers and stewards, and trust in the data itself. When service desk employees are confident in the data they're using, they'll provide better customer service, whether an order is placed via phone, online, or other methods. When customers receive their bills, everyone can be confident they're paying the right price for the goods or services received. Improved customer satisfaction hopefully will translate into increased revenue.

Michael Sharpe is an enterprise architect at Fusion PPT, a technology and management consulting firm. Write to us at [email protected].

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Three Guidelines For Implementing MDM

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's MDM Experience