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TDWI Blog: Data 360

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The Three Core Activities of MDM (part 2)

Blog by Philip Russom
Research Director for Data Management, TDWI

I’ve just completed a TDWI Best Practices Report titled Next Generation Master Data Management. The goal is to help user organizations understand MDM lifecycle stages so they can better plan and manage them. TDWI will publish the 40-page report in a PDF file on April 2, 2012, and anyone will be able to download it from In the meantime, I’ll provide some “sneak peeks” by blogging excerpts from the report. Here’s the second in a series of three excerpts. If you haven’t already, you should read the first excerpt before continuing.

Collaborative Processes for MDM
By definition, MDM is a collaborative discipline that requires a lot of communication and coordination among several types of people. This is especially true of entity definitions, because there is rarely one person who knows all the details that would go into a standard definition of a customer or other entity. The situation is compounded when multiple definitions of an entity are required to make reference data “fit for purpose” across multiple IT systems, lines of business, and geographies. For example, sales, customer service, and finance all interact with customers, but have different priorities that should be reflected in a comprehensive entity model. Likewise, technical exigencies of the multiple IT systems sharing data may need addressing in the model. And many entities are complex hierarchies or have dependencies that take several people to sort out, as in a bill of material (for products) or a chart of accounts (for financials).

Once a definition is created from a business viewpoint, further collaboration is needed to gain review and approval before applying the definition to IT systems. At some point, business and technical people come together to decide how best to translate the definition into the technical media through which a definition is expressed. Furthermore, technical people working on disparate systems must collaborate to develop the data standards needed for the exchange and synchronization of reference data across systems. Since applying MDM definitions often requires that changes be made to IT systems, managing those changes demands even more collaboration.

That’s a lot of collaboration! To organize the collaboration, many firms put together an organizational structure where all interested parties can come together and communicate according to a well-defined business process. For this purpose, data governance committees or boards have become popular, although stewardship programs and competency centers may also provide a collaborative process for MDM and other data management disciplines (especially data quality).

Keep an eye out for part 3 in this MDM blog series, coming March 2. I’ll tweet so you know when that blog is posted.

David Loshin and I will moderate the TDWI Solution Summit on Master Data, Quality, and Governance, coming up March 4-6, 2012 in Savannah, Georgia.

Please attend the TDWI Webinar where I will present the findings of my TDWI report Next Generation MDM, on April 10, 2012 Noon ET. Register online for the Webinar.

Posted by Philip Russom, Ph.D. on February 17, 2012


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