October 5, 2018 6:38:23 PM EDT

Master Data Management: The Foundation of Analytics

App Development & Integration

Master Data Management: The Foundation of Analytics

Analytics and AI have dominated headlines for the past few years. Every company is talking about and fighting the wars in the trenches to bring in the talent to build out their capabilities. But how often is your company talking about their Master Data Management (MDM) strategy? Are you utilizing the revolutionary technology that is so plentifully available in this modern age? To truly operationalize the efforts of MDM and unlock sustainable advantages, it requires clean and consistent data. It’s not just about pushing data through your company’s system, it’s about getting the right data to the right people at the right time. The solution to a successful MDM initiative isn’t simply the technology or the methodology, it’s the people.

MDM helps you turn data into analytics, and analytics into actionable outcomes. Having tons of spreadsheets full of data you do nothing with is not a benefit to your organization. Analyze your data; use your data. After all, that’s why you gather it, right? Before embarking on an MDM implementation, there’s a few factors you need to have in order.

Preparation for MDM Project
Know Your Organizational Goals
Why do you need an MDM? What are you trying to accomplish? What is the current state of your data architecture? What are your options for the future? Take time to define your goals before moving forward with the project. This will help you prioritize and focus on what’s most important.

Create a Roadmap of Expectations and Define Success
This is less detailed than a project plan. You’re not assigning tasks or breaking down individual steps. You want a basic high-level road map. What are the main things that need to be done? What is the sequencing? What are the necessary resources needed? When can you expect to see an ROI? And, less fun but no less important, how much is this going to cost?

Defining success may seem obvious, but to get buy-in from your stakeholders, you need to set expectations and define what success looks like, and when it will be realized. Having that planned before you get started helps you more collaboratively achieve your ultimate goals.

Have Both an Executive-Level Sponsor and an Application Owner
You will need help with support and momentum throughout the project. You may need to request additional funding or resources. Having an executive sponsor who believes in the vision will get you closer to having your needs be heard. An application owner is just as important. This is not a situation where only one person knows how to operate and utilize the system, instead, this is a clearly defined responsibility, preventing a circumstance where several people are assuming that “someone else” is handling it.

Each person who uses the MDM and analyzes the data provided will have different needs and goals for the information. Departments will make requests to define or collect data in different ways. With one person as the owner of the MDM, he or she can make sure all decisions apply to the best interests of the company and ensure that changes are communicated to all parties.

Establish Any Rules and Regulations
This can change in relevance depending on the type of data your company works with. But all companies should have an understanding of accessibility and dissemination of information. Who is allowed to access certain data? What data is restricted to certain departments? What information can be posted for the company as a whole? Can any of the data be made public, or is it all proprietary and for internal use only?

These may seem like questions that you will never have to worry about, but it’s much better to overprepare on the regulations of data than to deal with an information leak later on. Once you’ve prepared for your MDM project, here are some tips to assist with creating and kicking off.

Keys to Success
Gaining Stakeholder Alignment
The driving force to implement an MDM solution can come from many different parts of the organization. To be successful, all stakeholders across the organization must be identified, and their voices heard. The first part of every engagement should be to listen to the others involved. Make sure that the outcomes of the MDM are aligned with your company’s broader corporate objectives.
Stakeholders should see the new MDM as a means to achieve already determined goals. They should be able to envision MDM empowering their team to accomplish their goals and free up resources to think strategically about the future. If your stakeholders are not with you, the obstacles will be overwhelming.  

Empowered Project Team
The team you have leading this initiative must be enthusiastic and empowered. Work with the executive sponsors to align on roles, responsibilities, timelines, and goals, then let the team figure out how to deliver. A steering committee is great way of filtering key information to the executive team , and then the executive team needs to hold the project team accountable for the goals they set. Accountability is key in any project. [Read more about accountability in our e-book The Ultimate Guide to Team Accountability.] Your team should want to make a MDM strategy. It should also consist of more than just members of the IT department. Every department that creates or consumes data needs to be represented.

Each person should know their ideas and input are valued and needed. They should also know what aspects of the project they are responsible for. When your team is empowered and invested, success will be much more achievable.

Strategically Placed Project Milestones and Benchmarks
All projects can benefit from a little motivation; quick wins can be a key component of any ultimate victory. Such a large transformational project, like an MDM solution, is built from momentum, and proving the value of the endeavor early on is exceptionally advantageous.

This does not mean that you create easy and meaningless milestones. You want to create strategic, achievable milestones that showcase potential and benefits of the MDM system. You want benchmarks that are encouraging, and that boost momentum in the project team and stakeholders. These benchmarks should be tactically set throughout the project for consistent upward progress.  

Collaboration and Frequent Communication
A new MDM strategy must bring together your entire company: CEOs, IT, sales, marketing, accounting, and HR. With that in mind, it’s important to consider everyone whom will be impacted by the transformation.  

It’s also imperative to define the individuals who will need access to the data, the frequency of automated reports, and other items relevant to each department. The more that you include your team and collaborate with the extended company, the less challenging it will be to get the organization on board. The more people that are on board with the project, the smoother the transition will be.

Hire an MDM Implementation Firm
MDM can be done on your own, but it’s tough. The process will run much more efficiently with experienced help. You can create your team and build your plan first, but a better idea is to reach out for help with implementation.    

An outside firm offers you a team who can analyze your organization without bias and provide advice on how to make your MDM implementation as painless as possible. An additional benefit of reaching outside your company is that once the project is kicked off, your team can keep their focus on running the business and not be stretched into areas outside of their expertise.

An MDM implementation firm will guide you through a tested and proven process, ensuring a smooth and successful implementation. After all, MDM is not just a project that can be completed and then forgotten about. This is a new model for operating all aspects of your business. You need an MDM that will stand the test of time and grow with your company.

Master Data Management Ebook | Aspirant

If you’re interested in forming a partnership with Aspirant to achieve the most successful master data management implementation possible, contact Senior Consultant Chris Fedishen at chris.fedishen@aspirant.com or 724.972.2603.

Phil is Aspirant's Managing Director of the App Development & Integration practice with a focus on providing enterprise-grade solutions. His 30 years of experience have given him the opportunity to work across many markets, industries, and applications. Phil is leading a team of skilled web and mobile developers building strategic solutions for our customers.

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