So when does MDM actually become about management of master data? Speaking today to an old friend in the banking sector he highlighted a couple of key things about their challenges on MDM.  One of them is that a lot of organisations make the mistake of merging operational creation and editing of master data with doing MDM.  It isn’t and for a simple reason.

The normal operational processes, for instance creating a customer, have to exist and already exist but there is no reason for them to create quality master data, for instance via de-duplication or quality standards.  By no reason I mean that there is additional effort required.  This additional effort is what MDM is actually about and it comes in a few core elements

1) Standards – What does “good” look like?
2) Validation – How do you check what people operationally enter?
3) Stewardship – How do you systematically ensure long term quality

These elements will set up the policies via which the normal entry of something like customer or product will be managed but it is actually the process of validation, standards and stewardship which is important in MDM rather than the actual data entry?

So am I saying that data entry is “out of scope” for MDM?  In part yes, MDM programmes need to drive the business change and policies which result in better quality original entry but most organisations already have established training approaches and CR processes for front-line IT systems so the role of MDM is to work with those existing areas to deliver the required changes rather than to get hands on.

MDM should focus on the other elements, what is the process via which a new product is approved?  What is the SLA required for correcting an invalid product? What are the standards boards that can approve changes to policy and what is the impact of those policy changes?  This is the management of master data and is where MDM needs to focus.  By being clear on policy, standards and stewardship it becomes simpler to then change the operational processes in the same way as an order management process or website page would be changed.

Concentrate MDM on the MDM parts and use your existing processes to drive the operational business change based on the clarity that a focused MDM programme can deliver.