As I see it, master data management is basically about resolving communication problems-you have one version of the customer or product data, I have another, let's put them together and figure out who's right.
So, forgive me if I find it a tad ironic that the first factor David Loshin lists as a make-or-break requirement for MDM is to communicate the key business drivers.
Loshin is writing a series of columns, building toward a checklist for a successful MDM implementation. He's president of an information management consultancy and author of several technology-related books, including one on MDM titled, simply enough, "Master Data Management."
Right off the bat, he had my attention because he writes the conventional opinion is that MDM will lead to more effective integration of business and technology, which, to be honest, I'd never heard, but it makes sense. He also mentions that it improves organizational collaboration and productivity, which I think are more widely mentioned.
The problem is, MDM doesn't always do that, and that's what Loshin plans to explore with his checklist series.
The remainder of his column is devoted to item No. 1: Focusing on and communicating business value drivers. According to Loshin, MDM falters when companies fail to:
- Adjust the business processes to accommodate master data.
- Identify the business value drivers of MDM.
- Measure and monitor the impact of MDM on those drivers.
- OR-and this is the really ironic part - communicate the business drivers to users and train them on the improvements they can expect by using master data.
If the key stakeholders don't know the reasons behind MDM, do you really think they'll participate fully in the process transformation MDM requires? Loshin does not and I think his logic is pretty darn solid:
In essence, a reasonable business case will demonstrate that the potential financial improvement is offset against the increased level of effort and investment in putting the MDM program in place. This business case shows that the benefits outweigh the costs and are achievable (and measurable) within a reasonable time frame. ... the absence of a business-oriented value proposition and the inability to socialize that business case will only lead to continual questions about the need for MDM.
Don't be turned off by the lecture about building a business case, however. Loshin also provides a long list of sample questions to help you get specific about your MDM business drivers and the implementation parameters. If you're considering or starting an MDM project, this first column is definitely a must-read.