Success with MDM is hardly a sure thing. On the contrary, Gartner predicts 66 percent of those trying MDM will struggle to demonstrate its business value.
There are steps you can take to increase first chances, however. In my readings and discussions with MDM experts, I've noticed a few preliminary steps that are repeatedly cited as critical components to have in place before you embark on MDM:
This week I've shared what I've learned about these factors. Today, let's talk about success factor six and why lining up your business allies isn't just a throwaway recommendation when it comes to MDM.
Anytime I've ever written about any IT initiative, analysts almost always recommend finding an executive sponsor as a first step. In fact, it may be the most tired advice you can get or give for an IT initiative.
Nonetheless, it's good advice, especially when you're dealing with something as far-reaching as MDM. The trick is knowing how to find the right executive sponsor and knowing what that person should do to help you.
One common mistake is to see an executive sponsor as just someone who's going to fund your project, writes Rick Sherman, who runs the IT consulting firm Athena IT Solutions. While no one would underestimate the importance of that, Sherman says business sponsorship should also extend to ensuring you receive the daily support MDM and related programs, such as data governance, require from the business:
Business executives, from corporate and line-of-business groups, need to be involved in establishing the mindset that data is a corporate asset and needs to be managed just as carefully as any other valuable asset that the enterprise owns. Executives need to commit resources and time from people at all levels of the enterprise to define and manage data.
In part, this means your business sponsor should ensure the work is not rushed or handed to already overburdened employees, he writes. The executive sponsor should also ensure responsibility for these tasks is institutionalized by making it a measurable part of everyone's performance evaluations, according to Sherman.
When seeking an executive sponsor, you might also consider the advice Gartner analyst John Radcliffe gave about data governance: Find mid-level management business people who are respected and influential, rather than recruit an upper-level executive who might not have the time to devote to the MDM initiative.
Also, there are other steps you can take to secure MDM allies beyond recruiting an executive sponsor. For example, Air France-KLM has a team of data stewards in different parts of the business as part of the groundwork for MDM, according to a recent Tech Target article.
When choosing data stewards, you want to focus on accountability, John Ladley of IMCue Solutions told technology writer Linda L. Briggs in this TDWI article on data governance. Ladley said:
The first key to stewardship is not so much who is the steward but who is accountable. After that, who bears responsibility for the ongoing quality, and enforcement of policies and procedures? From there, you build out your stewardship organization.
The concept of data stewards has been around for some time now. For tips on filling the role of the data steward, check out "The Talents of a True Data Steward," a 2009 Information Management article on the topic. For a broader discussion of data stewardship programs, try another 2009 Information Management article, this one by Jill Dyche, called "Data Stewardship Strategy: 6 Keys to Success."