Another Route to Strategic: Managing MDM as Change Project

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Six Steps to MDM Success

Steps you should take before embarking on a master data management initiative.

"Implementing MDM: Just a Technical Exercise?" asks the title of a recent Information Management article. Catch me on a bad day and a title like that just irritates me. Well, no. Of course not. We all know that by now, right? So what's the point here, anyway?


Actually, no, we do not all know that by now, as the author, Thomas Pein-Malmberg, points out in the first part of the article. It's easy in tech to listen to the experts and focus on best practices, while being a bit forgetful of the people problem in such massive, enterprise-wide endeavors. Even when we purport to address the people problem, experts often offer a list of "shoulds" rather than any real advice about how to actually tackle the problem.


In this piece, Pein-Malmberg offers perspective on just how tricky this whole MDM-as-strategic problem can be - and when I say "perspective," I mean, literally, he offers three different perspectives. From an executive's perspective, MDM can look operational, tactical - not at all something about which they should be concerned. But when those at the operational level - the business managers - look at MDM, they're not going to think about how it can be used to further business goals. Instead, they're going to take a very siloed, "what can it do for me" approach to MDM, which makes sense, when you consider their perspective.


And IT: We all know the problem with this type of thing starting in IT. IT may have the right perspective to see the potential, but without the business' buy-in, IT is Cassandra of Troy: Right, but tragically unheeded.


"... when IT initiates the project and completes the tool selection process and technical implementation of one of the appropriated applications, often the business often does not understand it and won't use it (or won't use it correctly)," writes Pein-Malmberg.


So, how do you give everyone involved the bigger, broader perspective that sees the true capability of MDM? That's what this article is really about.


Pein-Malmberg offers a number of approaches I really like here. For instance, he lists several examples of key phrases you might find in the organization's strategic plans-things like, "be the market leader" or "increase efficiency." He then talks about how you can show how MDM-or at least, a project involving MDM-would support those far-reaching or vague goals.


I also like how he talks about MDM as a change project. That's a good term to keep in mind with MDM. And like any project that involves substantial, widespread change, you need to find a way to "anchor the change," as he puts it.


"MDM projects are change projects and, like any other change initiative, require skills like managing resistance, organizational design and process design," he writes. "Anchoring the change and harvest business benefits is crucial and requires specific management skills. It is therefore recommended that these projects follow change management steps, starting with creating an awareness for the need of change or unfreezing an organization through a change management model."


He offers a few suggestions about how you can anchor the change. For instance, he talks about how you can find the right people with the necessary skills to work at both the strategic and operational level.


But, ultimately, anchoring the change may be the hardest and most company-specific component (besides actually identifying the meaning of master data) of MDM, particularly when it comes to the data governance and data quality parts of any good MDM initiative.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 31, 2011 3:50 PM Erwin Meerman Erwin Meerman  says:

Spot on Loraine!


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