Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is a MDM program?

A couple of times in my previous posts I made reference to "you have to launch a MDM program to do GDS successfully". But what do I mean with a "MDM program"?

First of all "MDM program" implies that MDM is NOT one project but it is a bunch of projects to change how you do your business or even better to introduce a new business process which takes care of your master data management. Therefore after starting your MDM initiative you will never again get rid of MDM. It will be part of your daily business.

Gartner put together a very nice framework of building blocks for a successful MDM program. The following is derived from that:

So what do the different building blocks mean?

1. MDM Vision: You should know WHAT your ultimate goal is you want to achieve in and with your Master Data Management. A possible vision might be "We want to have all our product data in one central place and synchronize it from there with our business partners. Our data quality shall be that high that we do not have any wrong orders any more due to wrong master data at our customers". That is for sure a little be short and shaky - but you get the idea, right?

2. MDM Strategy: HOW can you achieve your vision? What are the right steps? Describe how you will move forward.

3. MDM Metrics: MEASURE what you have achieved! The metrics are from my experience one of the most important building blocks and the most often forgotten block. They are so important because they link your program to your business case and by that you are linking your MDM progress to your companies success.

4. MDM Organisation & Governance: Somebody has to have the responsibility for the master data management process and somebody also has to do the actual work. So you have to define how to organize it and how to get control over the process.

5. MDM Processes: If you have an organization you also need some processes the organization should follow. Who should maintain when which master data? Who is going to approve changes? What is the flow within the organization?

6. MDM IT Infrastructure: As we are talking about electronic master data you need some IT infrastructure which will support the MDM organization and processes.

So you thought a MDM program is mainly about buying and installing SAP MDM? I think the IT infrastructure is the last part you should think about. I am convinced that if all the other building blocks are reasonably prepared and implemented for your company you could even use MS Excel as your MDM IT Infrastructure and be successful with your MDM program.

Do not get me wrong - I am not suggesting that MS Excel is the perfect MDM tool. My point is that the IT infrastructure is the least important part in a MDM program. Although my experience shows me that companies typically take it the other way round. They invest heavily in a MDM IT infrastructure and then they wonder why their master data does not improve.

My suggestion is, first define where you want to go with your master data and how to come there, and then decide what type of IT infrastructure supports you best.


  1. Great information! Understanding where you are and where you want to be first is key to MDM. Then plan for the journey!

  2. Just to echo other comments, great blog thanks for sharing
    As a data recipient, your observations on the supplier side are interesting.
    I await your perspectives on the retail side of this

  3. @Keith: Thanks for your encouraging comment! For sure I will also share my thoughts on the data recipient side. Also on the data recipient side I see organisation and processes to be key. But I will go into some more details in one of my next postings :-)