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CASE STUDY - Master Data Management Comes of Age

Commentary by David Smith, Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture, Citrix Systems

Organizations are increasingly turning to master data management (MDM) as a key enabler in improving the quality, timeliness, and reliability of business intelligence (BI), with the ultimate goal of improving business performance. And—as Citrix Systems recently learned—when it comes time to choose an MDM vendor, it’s invaluable to have an experienced, strategic partner to facilitate the process. An MDM business consultant informs a more deliberate approach to implementation, including requirements gathering, business case development, and vendor selection.

Citrix is the leading provider of virtualization, networking, and software-as-a-service technologies for more than 230,000 organizations worldwide. Founded in 1989, its annual revenue in 2008 was $1.6 billion.

Citrix’s goal is to continually improve its operational efficiencies and extend its predictive analytic capabilities for planning purposes. To achieve these goals, Citrix knew that laying a solid MDM foundation was key. The company chose the partner data domain as the nucleus to establish that foundation. The success of this project is predicated on the joint ownership between business and IT, represented by the partner operations group and the enterprise architecture (EA) group. The initial scope of the MDM platform was to support the partner network and eventually grow to other business units and data domains. Therefore, the MDM platform had to be extensible enough technically, and flexible enough from a business perspective, to handle business and data models from other departments.

EA and the partner operations group had a solid understanding of what end results they required. What they did not know was which MDM vendor to partner with, what resources would be required for the implementation and ongoing maintenance, and whether it would meet their business needs. EA had developed a thorough evaluation approach that depended on business participation and a strong partner in the MDM space to help achieve quality results in an aggressive timescale.

MDM Experts Hit the Scene

Citrix contacted Baseline Consulting, a business consultancy and technical implementation services company that helps companies use their data to improve business performance. The project was challenging: help Citrix evaluate four MDM platform vendors (a process that typically takes three to five months) and make a purchasing recommendation to the project steering committee, including the CIO, in six weeks.

"Because of the thorough prep work, well thought-out process, and collaborative nature of the partnership, all team members were on the same page developing the vendor recommendation.” —David Smith, Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture, Citrix Systems

A Baseline team of three hit the ground running. They partnered with a team of four Citrix professionals, including managers and directors from IT and the partner operations group. The Citrix team had done their homework: they developed high-level business and technical requirements, diligently researched MDM vendors, sent RFIs to a list of vendors, and visited potential vendors at industry trade shows.

Baseline’s strategy was to limit each of the four MDM vendor candidates to a three-day proof of concept (POC), during which Citrix employees would load and configure the data model and run through a dozen use cases with direction from the vendor. This forced the vendors to focus their presentations as the POC process typically takes weeks or months. In addition, it gave Citrix IT personnel a better grasp of how the technology would (or would not) work with existing systems.

The collaborative working environment at Citrix helped Baseline drive the vendor interfacing, schedule the POCs, and create vendor documentation, project status reports, and so on. Multiple scorecards were created and used to judge each MDM vendor on various technical aspects. Following the POCs, the team circled back around and spent several days interviewing candidate vendors and documenting the actual business requirements from the partner operations group.

Collaboration, Experience, Results

Baseline gathered all the documentation resulting from the POCs and reviewed and analyzed it with the Citrix team. Because of the thorough prep work, well thought-out process, and collaborative nature of the partnership, all team members—Citrix and Baseline—were on the same page developing the vendor recommendation. Better yet, the partner operations group and EA were able to present the recommendation to their executive sponsors one day before the deadline.

At the end of the day, joint project ownership between business and IT, the collaborative environment, and an experienced team of consultants shortened a process that typically takes months down into a six-week timeframe.

For a free white paper on this topic from Baseline Consulting, click here and choose the title “The Baseline on MDM: Five Levels of Maturity for Master Data Management.” For more free white papers, click here.

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