Advice for Master Data Management Success

Loraine Lawson
Master data management is too expensive and too important to get wrong. So what does it take to succeed with MDM?

Here's a big hint: It's going to take more than buying the right MDM tool, that's for sure. In fact, that seems to top the list of caveats you'll see about MDM.

For one thing, it's going to take involvement and buy-in from the business. That's almost a given with tech investments these days, but how do you accomplish that? When it comes to MDM, you'll need a strong process owner who can drive a business-wide vision for MDM, according to a recent Information Management article by Dan Power.

Power runs the Boston-based consulting firm Hub Solution Designs, as well as the corresponding Hub Designs Blog. His first piece of advice is to embrace the political aspects of MDM. That may make some of you cringe, but you'll need to accept it to succeed, since funding, enterprise-wide support and executive buy in-all key components to MDM success-will depend on the process owner's ability to recognize and play the political games involved. It's a good, short read, that focuses on communicating the value of MDM and achieving buy-in.

This week, Powers also started a blog series about MDM best practices. I don't know how many he intends to write about, but so far he's posted four best practices:


If you read this blog-or, really, anything about MDM-on a regular basis, you'll recognize these best practices. But he's not just listing best practices, he's also offering advice about actually accomplishing them. For instance, in the fourth best-practice post, he shares an approach he's found helps get business involved at the highest level and coordinating across the enterprise, while still allowing process owners to have control within their own areas.


Finally, for a different angle on MDM success, check out this Information Management post, which lists 10 ways to fail at MDM. The list originated with Sally Gerber, the team lead for enterprise data management at Amway Corp. I doubt you'll be surprised to read her top pick for failing: Buy the tool first.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 16, 2010 1:27 AM m ellard m ellard  says:


Thanks for this summary/link - good article by Dan Power. So tough trying to get businesses to own the idea/process - so necessary for success.

Oct 18, 2010 11:54 AM Steve Jacoby, Teradata Steve Jacoby, Teradata  says:

Agreed - MDM projects can be expensive and this often has little to do with tool selection, which is not the most important decision BUT it's still an important one.  We've encountered companies that jumped too quickly based on advice about one MDM area (esp. customer data), but once their vision expands to include supplier management, product planning, or using outside data for demand planning, they find themselves facing new decisions about tools and training.  Even solid best practices like those listed won't undo an overly casual approach to tool selection.

I'm not advocating more time on evaluations or costlier tools, just to consider the likely 2nd, 3rd, and 4th MDM projects (the order doesn't matter - you want flexibility to decide that later) and how they might influence your infrastructure needs.  Then talk to those who already have an enterprise-wide MDM strategy and are beginning to reap the benefits.

Oct 21, 2010 5:30 AM Jakki Geiger Jakki Geiger  says:

Hi Lorraine, excellent article! One of the key challenges we hear about is identifing the most pressing business problems, because MDM can overcome the barriers associated with so many different business problems. Where do you start? Over the last year, we've noticed a trend. Many companies we work with are turning to MDM to acheive a strategic imperative: to increase revenue by improving cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers. The head of sales operations or customer operations is typically an excellent business sponsor because they have a revenue number they are trying to acheive and are very motivated to acheive it. They can also help provide budget for an MDM initiative. For those interested in learning more, check out this blog post:


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