Monday, June 05, 2006

The patter of tiny pitfalls

There are some sensible tips from Jane Griffin on MDM pitfalls in a recent article. As she points out, improving your master data is a journey, not a destination, so it makes sense to avoid trying to boil the ocean and instead concentrate on a few high priority areas, perhaps in one or two business units. It would make sense to me to start by identifying areas where MDM problems were causing the most operational difficulties e.g. misplaced orders. By starting where there is a real problem you will have less difficulty in getting business buy-in to the initiative. Be clear that there are lost of different types of master data e.g. we are involved with a project at BP which manages 350 different master data types, and clearly some of these will be more pressing an issue than others.

I have seen some articles where people are struggling to justify an MDM initiative, yet really such initiatives should be much easier to justify than many IT projects. For a start IT people can put the issues in business terms. Master data problems cause very real, practical issues that cost money. For example poor or duplicated customer data can increase failed deliveries, and issues with invoicing. Poor product data can result in duplicated marketing costs, and in some cases even cause issues with health and safety. Problems with chart of accounts data can delay the time needed to close the books. These are all things that have a cost, and so can be assigned a dollar value to fix.

Successful MDM projects will be heavily business-led, driven by the need to improve operational performance. IT staff need to educate business people that there are now an emerging set of solutions that can help, and get those business people involved in owning the data. It is the lack of data governance in many companies that contributed to the poor state of master data in the first place.

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