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Master Data Management Strategy: Here’s The Most Important Advice!

If search for Master Data Management Strategy, Google presents you 519 Million results. Even when we put the hyphens around the phrase "Master Data Management Strategy," we can choose between 176,000 results. Both numbers are fascinating. However, I genuinely believe that 97% of the results won't tell you about the most critical advice concerning Master Data Management Strategy.

Master Data Management Strategies — A Step-By-Step Approach

But let’s take a step-by-step approach. First of all, the numbers reflect an immense interest in this topic. Moreover, it shows that many companies either struggle to find the right strategy or experienced problems with their existing ones. On top of that, it seems that this “problem” mainly exists for Master Data Management. When searching for a “business intelligence strategy” or “data analytics strategy,” Google presents you with fewer results. And bear in mind: Both topics (BI and data analytics) are way more prominent than Master Data Management.

What Most Of The Articles Will Tell You!

Now, one can say it is great to have so many results. That helps to understand the challenge and define the right strategy. So I did the exercise and clicked through the first 50 results. In that case, I left out product pages on concentrated on blog posts, videos, how-tos, and best practices. 

What was the result?

First of all, I found very valuable input on many pages. However, the majority of the articles focused on four aspects:

  • Master Data Management Processes
  • IT Solutions and Technology Infrastructure
  • Governance and Responsibilities
  • Content 

And don’t get me wrong: All of the aspects are essential. I’ve also touched the topics with recent blog posts about Master Data Management. 

A Practical Strategy Approach

Nonetheless, after reading, I leaned back and reflected for a minute. I recalled the master data management projects we delivered. Which problems we encountered and which strategy we chose. And I can tell you I made many mistakes and had to learn the hard way. Moreover, that’s the reason why I genuinely believe that all articles miss out on one crucial aspect.

Master Data Management Strategy: Here’s The Most Important Advice!

From my experience, process, technology, and content are important — yes. But nothing comes close to change management and actively promoting The Topic! 

And I know exactly what you think right now: Either “come on, are you kidding me?” or “change management and marketing? How needs this consulting bla bla?”

So, I can tell you I’m not a consultant and have no interest in selling you any change management services 🙂 But I will tell you why change management is the essential aspect of a Master Data Management Strategy. Moreover, I will explain why you have to take care of it — at least if you envision a successful Master Data Management project.

Master Data Management Is About New Processes

Establishing a centralized master data management means setting up entirely new processes. And guess what — your employees hate to change processes. Especially if they a) are used to today’s methods and b) don’t understand the reasons behind it. And believe me, Master Data Management will change a whole bunch of your processes. 

That’s where promotion and change management comes in for the first time. Always bear in mind that most people consider Master Data Management as tedious, unnecessary, and unsexy. That is why it requires even more effort in terms of change management and internal marketing. Right from the beginning of your project, you have to explain why you go down that road. Talk about the benefits and opportunities of Master Data Management. Moreover, explain why processes have to change, and the deficits MDM will solve.

Master Data Management Re-Defines Responsibilities

A corporate-wide Master Data Management completely redefines responsibilities. Who is responsible for specific data and who is allowed to change. Now the problem that comes with responsibility is a) nobody wants to give up responsibility and b) only a few want to take over additional responsibility. That’s a problem because Master Data Management is aiming precisely for that.  

So again, your Master Data Management Strategy must outline how to tackle the aspect of changing responsibilities. Also, this is about change management and about involving people. Moreover, it is about explaining why responsibilities have to change — and I’m repeating myself: You have to promote the benefits! It’s the only way people understand the reason behind it and start to move.

Master Data Management Eliminates Work

Okay, now we’ve reached a crucial aspect. Let’s first explain the situation before implementing a corporate-wide Master Data Management. Of course, master data is already available. The huge difference is this: Every department is maintaining, collecting, and processing its own master data. And I don’t want to talk about data and quality-related issues. On the contrary, I want you to think about what will happen once you introduce Master Data Management. Usually, and due to streamlined and clearly defined processes, MDM eliminates work. A simple example: You don’t need five departments maintaining the same master data set but only one.

And what happens if you take away tasks from people? Exactly, they don’t like it. They become reluctant and won’t support the project. And one more time, there’s only one way to cure that problem. Promote the topic, explain why it is necessary, and consider change management as an integral part of your Master Data Management strategy.

Master Data Management Strategy — My Experience

When I discuss Master Data Management and a related strategy with companies, I usually observe one thing. 65% of the strategy is about technology, 20% about content, 10% about content, 5% about governance. You can do the math. Change management and internal promotion are simply do not exist. And I’m deeply convinced that this is a) the reason why so many master data management projects fail, b) the topic has such a bad reputation, and c) you can find so many results on Google when searching for the term “Master Data Management Strategy” 🙂 

What Do You Think?

What’s your view on that topic? Always happy to receive your feedback and thoughts. Just leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter, or get in touch on LinkedIn.

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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