Successful MDM is Invisible!

If you see Master Data Management (MDM) as a major new ongoing Process in your business then you are on the wrong track!

Successful MDM should be invisible.

It should happen automatically as a part of doing business day-to-day.

Strange Tweets

I was prompted to write this post after I made two tweets that might seem slightly (or totally) off the wall to some people.  These were:

Making MDM a separate business activity and process is as crazy as making Quality a separate activity and process – yet it happens!

If your MDM is not an integrated part of all systems and processes you’re creating a monster that will devour the enterprise.

I made these posts because from my recent readings on the web there seems to be an emerging (and crazy) trend to turn MDM into a major industry.  This is wrong.

Project Not Process

If your Master Data Entities are currently unknown, unmapped and unmanaged, then you will need to set up and carry out a project to set this right.  However, being a project, this will have a beginning, middle and, most importantly, an END!

Once the MDM Project is completed (and this should take months, not years) Master Data Management should require no ongoing effort in the business. All of you Master Data Entities should be fully maintained and managed by carrying out the day-to-day Business Functions of the enterprise.

Unsurprisingly, the greatest advocates for this flawed approach are the vendors of so-called ‘MDM Software’, who stand to gain a great deal from the establishment of an MDM Industry.

Would such an artificial industry benefit businesses?  Absolutely not!

No more than the artificial downstream Data Quality industry created by ‘Data Quality’ software vendors benefits businesses.

Buoyancy Beats Bailing Buckets

The trouble with many (though not all) of the creators and purveyors of this type of software application is that they have a vested interested in perpetrating the bad practices in business that create data of low quality and unmanaged Master Data Entities.

These are what I term “Bailing Bucket Salesman”.  Your MDM boat might be leaky and sinking but fear not, the men with the magic bailing buckets are on hand to bail you out – at a price.  Many businesses get seduced by the apparent power of these applications; the price does not seem too exorbitant and, more importantly it seems, it does not require anyone in the enterprise to look for a lasting solution.

What many businesses fail to see is that while they are busy bailing they are not on course and sailing (could not resist that, almost, poetic analogy) and that the real cost to their business is far more than the cost of the software and consultancy fees.

MDM is Effortless

Once they are established in the business, effective Data Quality and Master Data Management should, like Quality, be quite effortless and happen as a byproduct of doing business day-to-day.

Taking a structured, proactive approach is to MDM makes this possible.

MDM Webinar & Course

I will be running a  Webinar in the near future that will describe what these techniques are an why they work.

I will also be launching an online  MDM course that will describe in detail how to implement them.

If you are interested in attending this FREE Webinar or would like to find out more about the course, then please leave a comment in the Reply Box below.

 

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7 Responses to “Successful MDM is Invisible!”

  1. Pedro July 16, 2012 7:53 am #

    John, I must say your comments are a welcome breath of fresh air, most enjoyable, although I may be biased coming from a 1980′s Info Engineering background!

    Richard, thanks for the Zombie analogy!

    In my experience, organisations do tend to take the easy ‘buy a tool’ approach, and fail, because, as you say “it does not require anyone in the enterprise to look for a lasting solution”, which always seems to be put in the ‘too hard’ basket.

    I’m currently applying IMM on a small project – early days, but so far so good. I will have to change it slightly though to adhere to my employers standards. Watch this space…

    Interested in the Webinar.

  2. Craig Schoelen July 12, 2012 1:59 pm #

    Very interested. please send an invite to wedinar.

  3. Cal Lewis July 11, 2012 12:46 pm #

    Great perspective; save a slot for me.

    Thanks,
    Cal Lewis

  4. Richard Ordowich July 11, 2012 12:37 pm #

    Although I agree that MDM should be part of doing business day-to-day, there is a need to establish best practices for managing data (master or not) and that does require a new process. The errors of the past must be addressed before MDM becomes a day-to-day activity. Also, in some instances MDM will not work and it is important to discover that early.

    MDM has already become a boondoggle, with numerous pundits professing its unbounded benefits and ease by which it can be implemented. Buy a solution, move your data and your done! There is no need for a project. MDM is action oriented.

    The heavy lifting (which few pundits warn you about) is harmonizing all the master data entities, cleaning them up and determining whether there is such a thing as a master entity. Typically there are many masters and they remain even after MDM is rolled out. Or MDM is rolled out to serve one system or application and that is considered success. Trying to integrate 2 or more systems or applications is rarely achieved.

    A “mashup” of master data entities may take months to achieve but a comprehensive master data solution requires months to map and resolve all the subtle differences in the instances of master data.

    Data quality should be a part of an enterprise quality practice. Without a quality philosophy, data quality becomes yet another program that will slowly wither away into obscurity. Like MDM, data quality requires a plan to developed data management best practices that become embedded in the day-to-day activities. Data quality requires an ongoing commitment to be sustainable.

    MDM purveyors are more like the crew handing out beach towels on the Titanic.

    Even once data quality and data management is established (both prerequisites to embarking on MDM), managing master data is still a challenge. There will always be changes in the business and personnel that will affect what was at one time defined as master data.

    Master data is like a Zombie. It continually consumes the brains of the organization to survive. MDM purveyors claim they have the weapon to end the existence of this Zombie data. I doubt it.

    • John Owens July 11, 2012 6:56 pm #

      Hi Richard

      I think that we are in violent agreement. As I say in the post:

      If your Master Data Entities are currently unknown, unmapped and unmanaged, then you will need to set up and carry out a project to set this right. However, being a project, this will have a beginning, middle and, most importantly, an END!

      Once the MDM Project is completed (and this should take months, not years) Master Data Management should require no ongoing effort in the business. All of you Master Data Entities should be fully maintained and managed by carrying out the day-to-day Business Functions of the enterprise.

      In the forthcoming webinar I also point out that last place to look for Master Data Entities is in your existing data! I explain why and show the alternatives.

      John

  5. hjmaatman July 11, 2012 7:23 am #

    like to see/hear more!

  6. Sirajudeen Samsudeen July 11, 2012 7:04 am #

    Excellent thoughts John. Especially, I agree with your comparison of MDM processes to Quality – it is not a one-time stunt, but an on-going part of your business process.

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