Master Data Management (MDM) as a discipline has existed for over 20+ years now, yet many organizations struggle with it for various reasons. It could be because of wrong tool selection, wrong System Integrator (SI) selection, or simply misalignment within an organization.

This article intends to highlight some of the key aspects that are important for the successful implementation of an MDM initiative based on our experience of working with several customers worldwide. Let’s dive deep into the details of those aspects.

The following list isn’t in any order of priority; all the following are equally important based on our experience of successfully delivering several MDM programs. Most of the following apply to Product Information Management (PIM) too, which is a specialized form of MDM focused on product data.

Executive buy-in

It is an important aspect that often gets overlooked. MDM brings changes to how things get done in an organization. We all know that changes can be hard to adapt to. The lack of executive buy-in could result in multiple challenges, such as difficulty in organization wide adoption, pushback from end users, siloed and department-specific implementation, and grappling with various MDM systems.

Here are a couple of real-world examples from our experience around this. We had a customer for whom the end users insisted that their data entry method in excel must have robust support in the tool without any additional data quality checks. Their end users were very comfortable with the same. If not for their executive mandate, we may have built excel-like functionalities in an MDM tool. That would have meant carrying over all the excel issues into a modern MDM tool.

In another example, we ran into a situation where the PIM solution wasn’t adopted enterprise-wide after the departure of the executive. Along with data inconsistency issues, this also resulted in zero ROI from the PIM license / implementation.

Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) /outcome of MDM

An organization needs to clearly define a set of KPIs that will measure the success of the MDM program. Just stating that we need to have a single source of truth for customer, product, supplier, location, and chart of account or that we wish to improve the quality of our data, isn’t sufficient. Here are some examples of target statistics to measure MDM outcomes – improve operational efficiency by 30%, launch new products 50% faster, improve customer data quality by 100%, and so on.

Governance end to end

Master data governance is about defining the processes, policies, sources, rules etc. in the context of the master data being managed. It is yet another important aspect that often gets overlooked. Defining the governance criteria around managing your master data right from day one is important to avoid ambiguity. You need to have details on ownership of the master data, change management of master data, data governance council, and the process for retiring master data.

Strategic vision with incremental business value addition

An organization needs to have a strategic vision for MDM and the ability to identify and deliver incremental business value. In the fast-paced world that we live in, people expect quick outcomes and no longer have the patience to wait for multiple years. Therefore, it is important to identify and deliver small incremental and continuous benefits to the business. Along with keeping the company involved and excited, it also avoids the big-bang approach, which mostly results in program failure.

Right MDM technology/platform and implementation partner

Last but certainly not least, it is important that you choose the right technology as well as an implementation partner. Otherwise, it impacts the organization’s ability to deliver value and, in most cases, proves detrimental to the business.

We had a customer come to us asking for assistance with upgrading an on-prem MDM solution as the vendor team quoted them ~1M USD for upgrading to the latest release. As another data point, ~50% of the RFPs/requests that we get today are about moving from the current legacy MDM platform to a new modern one. Some of the common reasons that we see are, current system is too slow to adapt to changing business needs, is difficult to manage/maintain or has a shortage of skilled resource pool in the market.

MDM isn’t easy or isn’t just another IT project. It is hard to implement, given that it is not about technology, process, or people but rather a combination of all three working together seamlessly. However, proper planning, along with the selection of the right technology/partner, can help streamline that journey. A correctly implemented MDM solution can help achieve operational efficiency, grow the business and/or completely transform the business within an organization.

In the next blog of this series, I will discuss how we take care of all the above aspects by working closely with customer business and IT teams. Stay tuned!