The Key Elements of MDM Success

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Six Steps to MDM Success

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

Master data management seems to be worth the effort. A recent survey by the Aberdeen Group found that employees at organizations without MDM spend five times the amount of time searching for data as those who have MDM. Those with MDM also have more complete and on-time deliveries, a more accurate inventory and higher customer satisfaction than those without, the survey found.


It can even help cut IT costs by reducing money spent on storage and data management.


And yet, many an MDM initiative is struggling for want of a "clearly defined ROI for data management," according to ASUG News and, frankly, just about any other expert who talks about MDM.


A clearly defined ROI is so critical to MDM and other data management initiatives, Forrester analyst Rob Karel says IT should push back if senior management is trying to steam roll a project through without one:

... they should push back if the solution they're building will not ... Deliver a clear ROI to deliver clear business value with a line of sight to how the capabilities will improve efficiencies, reduce cost, reduce risk, increase revenue, or strategically differentiate your organization. Think that executive sponsor will have your back if you can't prove the value? Think again.

MDM initiatives with the so-called "nebulous" ROIs, often wind up under another project, usually as part of an ERP upgrade, which can mean it's the first thing cut if the project goes over budget, warns SAP mentor and ASUG volunteer Jamie Oswald in the ASUG News article.


Erin Eschen of Perficient quoted a for-purchase Forrester report outlining the key elements of a BI/data management framework, including a "solid ROI via a business case that will demonstrate one or more of these: reduce costs, reduce risk, drive efficiency, increase revenue, differentiate the company."


An unclear ROI isn't the only mistake that can thwart your MDM initiative. You'll also need to demonstrate "... a concrete, 'clear and present danger' to the business that requires MDM," writes Adam Honig, president and chief executive of the CRM consultancy Innoveer Solutions. Without an obvious business imperative, MDM efforts can and do languish in limbo for years, he adds, sharing an example of where MDM stalled until slow sales and other problems resulted.


But even with a clear business reason and ROI, companies get hung up on MDM. Honig shared what Innoveer sees as the four most common MDM mistakes:

  1. Close coupling between systems when you should have loose coupling between systems.
  2. MDM as a standalone project, when it should be a mandatory part of an existing project - advice that conflicts somewhat with Oswald's observation.
  3. Going overboard with MDM, when you should focus on the minimum master data necessary.
  4. Too much MDM in the cloud. "... choose wisely about which data to integrate, and which to avoid," he suggests.


Another final component of MDM success according to Honig is to start small. "When beginning with MDM, start small," he writes. "You don't need to tie master data into 15 different systems; try just a few at the start, and don't couple these systems too tightly."


To sum up, if you want to reap those MDM benefits, you'll need to stay lean and focused. Demonstrate an ROI, establish a clear business imperative, start small and avoid Honig's four common implementation mistakes.