5 Master Data Best Practices
When thinking about master data management (MDM), what's ultimately needed to keep the business infrastructure from crumbling is clean, unified, well-governed, expertly-stewarded master data content. This is often easier said than done, with companies stumbling on their way to full MDM implementation.
While the needs of businesses vary, these five master data best practices underpin successful initiatives:
- Search before create.
Record duplication eats up bandwidth and causes confusion. Always check for existing customer, prospect, and vendor records before creating a new file.
- Increase attribute fill rates for core firmographic and identity data.
Incomplete records sow the seeds of confusion down the line, as business users can’t depend upon the same information being available for each contact or entity.
- Compile hierarchy and linkage for full corporate parent/child and affiliate relationships.
Uncovering connections between entities can make your data more valuable, but first you need to implement a process to define these relationships (a data enrichment program).
- Establish common definitions between departments and business partners.
No piece of software is an island; people must build applications with master data in mind so that each program can understand data produced by another.
- Enable seamless integration of coded third-party content.
High-quality external data can supplement your own information with new insights, but only if you have a system flexible enough to accept it.
Data Integrity & Your MDM Strategy
When trying to span the chasm between sales and marketing, or finance and operations, or enterprises across a value chain, there is only one thing that can truly bridge them all in an integrated way: master data.
While workflows and processes may be designed for optimal efficiency, the success of those implementations is predicated on the quality of the data that is within them. Simply put - dirty data clogs process pipes. No matter how good your MDM strategy is, resources are wasted if the data in your systems is inconsistent and doesn't connect.
As you look at any MDM program, your data is what makes your software effective. Strong master data content can help strengthen the foundation of your strategic objectives and provide a reliable foundation for enterprise growth. Consider master data as a trusted view of entities and relationships that can flow across platforms or systems within your organization and cannot otherwise be achieved in individual silos.
Master data, we would submit, is the most important data you have. It is about the products you make and services you provide, it is the customers you sell to, it is the vendors you buy from. It is the basis of your business and commercial relationships. A primary focus area should be your ability to define your foundational master data elements, (entities, hierarchies, types, and geographies) and then the data that is needed (both to be mastered and to be accessible) to meet your business objective.
Setting Your Data in Motion
Data, to have value, must be in motion, it must be current, agile and available, integrated as close to the point of decision as possible. You must identify the pinch points and blockages that keep data from moving. Misidentified entities, differing taxonomies, and inconsistent nomenclature all keep data separate.
Once you become a master of your data, it will flow. Read more about setting your data in motion.