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Master Data Management – A Business Decision?

shutterstock_95921239Leading analysts agree that to deliver useful information to the business, data must be managed through a variety of tools. Gartner produce their Magic Quadrants for Vendors in all sorts of arenas related to Information Management, from Data Integration, to Business Intelligence, from Data Warehousing to Performance Management and countless more. But is it the tools that provide the key to a successful data management program? Will tools alone allow your business to have a reliable, accurate, controlled source of data?

Whilst of course it is important to select the right software and vendor reviews can provide valuable insight into what is the best option for you, it is far from the only thing that one needs to consider.

No matter the tool you choose, the outcome can only be as good as the processes that underpin the implementation of these tools. Without solid foundations, any solution that is built can crumble, unless governed by strong strategies and processes. A sensible analogy could be akin to building a house, strong foundations, the right materials, skilled tradesmen all are essential elements. But how do these processes fit together, how can you be sure that the solution is fit for purpose, without consultation, a design, a budget and a timescale. It is almost impossible.

Master Data Management is often considered the remit of an organisation’s IT function, however in reality it is the business units that should “own” the data and associated processes. Without a deep understanding of the business requirements, Master Data Management will not be a success. Data owners and stewards in individual business units should be identified and appointed and processes and strategies reviewed before any real consideration is given to the tools needed to deliver the solution. In fact with the myriad of tools available on the market, only through taking the time to understand the business requirements will you be able to choose the right software for you.

More and more organisations are realising the benefit of getting business decision makers involved in the software selection process. No longer merely the responsibility of IT or Procurement, software choices are being influenced by all sorts of internal and external business requirements. Nowhere is this seen more often than in what can be viewed as the final stage of Data Management, Business Intelligence and Performance Management. Increasingly business users (finance directors, supply chain, HR, etc.) are either influencing or deciding on the software that best suits their processes and requirements, and this should apply to Master Data Management too. Without the implementation of parts or all of an MDM strategy, BI and Performance Management will fail. Data will be inconsistent, of poor quality or inaccurate and we all know that poor, inconsistent data will deliver reports and analytics that are not a true reflection of an organisations performance.

InforData Consulting can assist organisations by identifying, reviewing and where necessary suggesting refinements that will enable data to be better managed and business users to make more reliable, informed, accurate decisions. Advising on how best to consolidate data, create and implement data governance charters and strategies, data management processes and Business Intelligence, InforData Consulting can provide an end to end service that covers the full Master Data Management life cycle, including integration and migration projects.

For InforData Consulting, Master Data Management is made up of four distinct but intrinsically linked disciplines;

Data Profiling,
Data Integration,
Data Quality,
Data Governance.

Each of these disciplines can be delivered either as individual entities or as part of an overall strategy, but it is essential that each of the parts are covered at some stage of the Master Data Management Process.

So, does the tool drive the process, or should the process drive the tool…

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