Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some rare common sense

Ad Stam and Mark Allin have written an excellent piece in DM Review this month covering data stewardship and master data management. They correctly point out that, with regards to business intelligence systems, that “change will occur, and time to react will decrease” and lay out a sensible architecture for dealing with this issue. I very much like the way they put emphasis on the need for a business unit to deal with data governance as a key building block. In the article they explain the key requirements of such a group and make the interesting analogy of logistics, which is usually sourced these days to a separate unit or even separate company. Similarly they believe that the management of master data should be managed by a non-IT business unit.

The article also correctly distinguishes between “golden copy” data held in the data warehouse and a master data management repository, which in addition will hold master data in all its stages. The master data repository should be linked to the data warehouse, but are not the same physical entity since the master data repository has to handle “unclean” data whereas the data warehouse should have only fully validates data stored in it.

It is a pleasant change to read such a sensible article on best practice in data management, but this is because Ad and Mark are real practitioners in serious enterprise-wide projects through their work at Atos Origin e.g. at customers like Philips. They are not people who spend their lives giving slick Powerpoint presentations at conferences but are close to the action in real-world implementations. I worry that there are too many people on the conference circuit who are eloquent speakers but haven’t actually seen a real live project for a long time. I have known Ad Stam for many years and can testify that his team at Atos are an extremely competent and experienced set of practitioners who focus on customer delivery rather than self-publicity. If you have a data warehouse or MDM project then you could do a lot worse than use Ad’s team.

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