Success with MDM Hinges on Business Engagement

Loraine Lawson

When it comes to success with MDM, the goal isn't business support-it's business engagement, says Paul Bergamo, a general partner at NewVantage Partners.


That the business involvement is crucial to MDM success isn't new advice, of course. Still, I love his word choice-"engagement," with its subtle overtones of responsibility. It's so much more precise than "support," "buy-in" or "alignment" or any of the other words we toss around when we're trying to say, "Hey-this isn't an IT project; the business has to be involved, too."


In a recent Network World article, "Getting a Master Data Management Master Plan," Bergamo looks at what roles IT should play and what roles should belong to the business if you want to succeed with MDM. He elaborates more on how this works in real life, but basically, it boils down to this:


  • The business owns and makes the high-level decisions-think willing to listen, but in charge, like King Arthur.
  • IT provides technical counsel, like Merlin, and implements the decisions made by the business, like everybody else in Arthur's court except Lancelot.


The second part of the article was written by Jesus Arriaga, who is now the president of CIO Strategic Solutions and a former CIO at a company that completed an MDM initiative. Arriaga's comments are brief, but he manages to outline IT's strategy in tackling MDM:

  1. Define the business processes, which meant "establishing a cross-functional team of key business and IT individuals who documented the processes that create and touch data." They also standardized the data definitions, which varied widely from system to system.
  2. Understand the data integration points.
  3. Data cleansing, a process that proved extensive and time consuming, he added.
  4. Establish ongoing governance.


I noticed that in his plan, the governance methodology was overseen by an IT steering committee which "made the calls on any changes." I have to say, that seems at odds with the idea that business should own the MDM decisions and IT should carry out those decisions.


MDM is expensive, and Gartner predicts that 66 percent of organizations starting on master data management (MDM) projects will have a hard time demonstrating MDM's business value. Therefore, it's going to be important to engage the business early and completely, and focus on long-term success.


This short article offers sound advice for succeeding with MDM. You might also want to check out:

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