At the IRM MDM Summit this week there is one element that is coming up multiple times, sometimes because people have got it right and other times because people have got it wrong. There is a wonderful phrase ‘Brevity is Wit’ and of course the famous Blaise Pascal quote ‘I apologise for writing a long letter, I didn’t have time to make it shorter’. The same applies to your business case and communications pack on why you are doing an MDM program.

All too often I see a list of twenty or more points about why a company is doing an MDM program and often these are just motherhood and apple pie statements of ‘agility’, ‘compliance’, ‘data quality’ and other statements that could be written by someone who knows nothing about your business. What you need to do is get down the goals and justifications down to a list of 2-5 points, I tend to find that 3 is the best number. Here are a few that I’ve used and seen used across multiple projects

‘The CFO will go to prison if we don’t identify customers as individuals’
‘50% of our marketing spend reduces our revenue because we downshift customers’
‘10% of plant outage events are caused by out of stock products, which are in stock elsewhere in the same warehouse, we just don’t know’
‘We have a 20% variance in costing for the same part, because we don’t know its the same part’
‘We have 30% less multi-channel customers than the market average’
‘Our current customer base has more customers than there are people in the country’
‘20% of our sales are actually between our own business units, but we didn’t know’
‘We can reduce procurement spend by 10% in 2 years’
‘We can increase Customer LTV by 30% if we treat that as an individual across channels’
‘Our competition took 20% of our business because they know our customers better than we do’
‘The most commonly procured product appears in 200 different line items across our procurement systems’
‘We want to be a global organisation, we must have a global view on our employees, finance, plants and locations’

The point about these various statements is they work in a specific context and having them as a list like

‘The CFO will go to prison if we don’t identify customers as individuals’
‘50% of our marketing spend reduces our revenue because we downshift customers’
‘Our competition took 20% of our business because they know our customers better than we do’

The point here is that often when we get down to 20+ points there is one that people can argue about in the detail, but if you can drag that back to ‘we are doing that to stop the CFO going to prison’ then the debate moves away from a specific requirement into ‘so are you saying you want the CFO to go to jail?’.

This clarity of objectives and the ability to pull your whole program back to that clarity has a number of advantages

1) You minimise scope creep, if its not linked to the clarity then leave it for a subsequent phase
2) You minimise debate – if it links to the clarity then everyone is on board
3) It sticks the program in the minds of executives – everyone, no matter how busy, can remember 3 key points
4) You can cost the clarity – the numbers have benefits, the compliance has impact.

Clarity means brevity, brevity means work. If it takes 2 months to get clarity but only 2 weeks to get 200 requirements, its better to spend the 2 months to get the clarity. People can focus on the end result if they have clarity and make sure you deliver.

Take you clarity, print it out on A0 posters, stick it on the walls. Throughout the journey never forget that your ambition is to deliver on that clarity, make sure that EVERYONE is about delivering that clarity.