The term (Master) Data Management almost cunningly misleads into thinking that it only affects data. Making changes to data just seems easy enough. Data are the objects stored in databases, such a description makes it nice and delimited. As always, things aren’t what they seem to be. The impact of data as ‘the new soil’ – or as I like to call it; the latest addition to the well known production factors – on companies is growing. Data is embedded more and more in companies daily operations. And the interchanging effects and processes between the operation, logistics and other databases aren’t always well documented. Changing anything in data management will always impact more than just the databases it is stored in. And the effects of Master Data Management are even greater. Companies who have committed to a MDM project because they want to maintain their competitive advantage or build more efficient processes, have to consider upfront the impact and change it will bring.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. Storing data for business purposes can be done by ‘archiving at the start’ or ‘monitoring and disposing afterwards’. Although I have a preference for one of these options, either way they have effects on data ownership, process management, data quality and business rules. So building and retaining MDM does not only imply change management. A good MDM project therefore has multiple disciplines ranging from change management to tooling solutions and process management. Therefore MDM can be a perfect starting point to implement improvements with an holistic view of the company. Ultimately organizing and defining processes need to be done, before ‘doing MDM’. Every company has a different focus and maturity level for their MDM. Whatever the level is, take in mind several issues like data stewardship, data ownership monitoring, policies, business rules, governance and data quality. These aspects immediately show my starting point; that MDM is as much about data as it is about change.