To be competitive in today's fast-moving marketplace, organizations need a centralized, consolidated Master Data Management system. MDM has a significant impact on productivity and revenue and is a key discipline of digital transformation.
Find out how to implement an effective company-wide master data management strategy, how to capitalize on the benefits of master data, and which opportunities and challenges you may face on your way to a centralized, transparent, and reliable Master Data Management system.
Master Data Management Guide
What Is Master Data Management?
Master Data Management (MDM) is a technology-enabled discipline in which IT, business departments, and management work together across all areas of an organization. It is a crucial element of any data strategy and thus a discipline that plays a significant role throughout the entire company.
Its goal: to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency, and accountability of a company's shared master data assets coming from many sources and to consolidate them in a centralized location.
Corporate data (such as, for example, product, services, supplier, customer, and personnel data) should be considered a strategic asset and managed in such a way as to provide a comprehensive overview of all relevant business activities, a solid basis for strategic initiatives, and operational excellence.
Master data encompasses all stored information that is critical to the operation of a business. It tends to change less frequently than other data and is less volatile than transactional data.
Central Master Data Management: The Benefits
There are many ways in which Master Data Management can add value to your organization. Mostly indirectly, however, as an enabler for corporate innovation and other IT initiatives.
- Reduce costs: MDM supports short-term as well as strategic measures that help you work more efficiently and thus reduce operating costs.
- Increase revenue: Central master data management helps your company identify early on opportunities for competitive products and services as well as new business models.
- Minimize risks: Master Data Management provides a comprehensive range of tools and methods to analyze your data. Understanding new connections, patterns and anomalies in data sets provides valuable insights and helps businesses take action based on a complete, consistent, and reliable source of master data across their organization and across countries.
- Reduce error rate: Role-based concepts in master data management simplify data management and ensure that your data is complete and reliable. Thus, you reduce errors due to incomplete or wrong manual input.
- Increase your sphere of influence Consolidating high-quality customer, product and supplier data facilitates your customer support's sales activities.
- Improve customer satisfaction: With MDM, you link customer and product master data, and you have a complete view of historical, current, and predictive data sets. Thus, you can deliver a consistent, personalized customer experience across all channels.
- Enhance customer experience: Up-to-date and consistent master data is the key to creating a seamless, omnichannel customer experience across all customer touchpoints.
- Increase efficiency: Central Master Data Management reduces isolated and siloed applications. As a result, employees spend less time searching for data that is relevant to their daily business.
- Maximize process automation: Master Data Management increases the efficiency and reliability of data processing. Smart import and export features, the integration of reliable databases and embedded AI increase the knowledge gained from corporate data.
- Ensure traceability: An effective system for product traceability requires targeted identification. MDM is the key to accessing accurate information on items across your entire supply chain.
- Improve compliance: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities in MDM ensure compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, CIPA, and other legal requirements.
Department-Specific Master Data Management Challenges and Benefits
Obviously, an enterprise-wide MDM solution accomplishes many other specific tasks that need to be optimized for the relevant business processes. Every unit within an organization benefits from a central Master Data Management system. The following overview summarizes the benefits and challenges for each individual department.
- Gaining an overview of the business, its figures, and processes.
- Improving strategic planning
- Achieving operational excellence
- Improved reputation with investors and banks
- Enhanced processes (and thus reducing costs)
- Improved controlling through more accurate metrics
- Gaining a 360° view of your customers
- Creating comprehensive and accurate product descriptions
- If applicable, consolidating distributed media assets
- Targeted communication
- Increased rates (response, click, retention, etc.)
- Improved quality of texts and images
- Gaining a comprehensive 360° view of customers and products (who has bought what and when)
- Creating new offerings (products and bundles)
- Attracting new customers (based on the behaviour of existing customers)
- Increased sales (higher prices, new customer segments, cross-selling)
- Reduced sales costs (better targeting with the right products and offers)
- Strategic customer development
- Consolidating IT systems (eliminating redundancies)
- Introducing data governance and data quality measures
- Focusing on new projects
- Reduced costs by eliminating redundancies (systems)
- Improved quality means less effort for error correction
- Innovation instead of "just keep them alive"
- Gaining an overview of the business, its figures, and processes
- Reporting (external/internal) and regulatory requirements
- Realization of innovative applications and processes
- Simpler, faster, and more accurate business and financial planning
- Simpler reporting, improved standing with banks
- Faster integration of Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
- Gaining a 360° view of the supply chain
- Optimizing routes and tours to reduce costs
- Gaining an overview of products and shippers
- Visibility into logistics processes
- Reduced costs through optimized routes and tours
- Support for the purchasing and sales departments
- Gaining an overview of products and suppliers
- Optimizing the onboarding process
- Placing orders with suppliers in line with market requirements (customers, sales volume, forecasts)
- Better overview of supplier-product relationships
- Faster onboarding and time-to-market through more accurate information for suppliers
- Improved reporting = Optimization of order volumes and order times (thus reducing costs, preventing redundant orders, and providing accurate delivery times)
- Gaining a comprehensive 360° view of your staff
- Planning training courses according to your company's needs
- Setting up company standards and rules for HR processes (recruiting, exit management)
- A better understanding of your employees' qualifications (who can do what - who needs what)
- Optimized training offering (tailored to your business needs)
- Overview of internal guidelines (job descriptions, processes, etc.).
If you are still not convinced, you will find many examples of the benefits of Master Data Management in "The Gartner Business Value Model: A Framework for Measuring Business Performance ". Gartner's report takes a closer look at business cases, an essential component of any Master Data Management program, as it lays the foundation for implementing all related processes and software solutions.
Successful Master Data Management Implementations: Customer Examples
24h delivery time without exceptions? At Engelhorn, this can only be achieved through transparent data management. Products that are not in stock are shipped directly by the supplier. This way, Engelhorn can guarantee a delivery time of 24 hours and meet their customers' expectations.
A central data management system replaced 100 redundant subsystems. Process efficiency and data quality can be improved significantly by consolidating information distributed across different media. You also save costs and time for the administration of the subsystems.
2 days instead of 4 weeks per year - by consolidating information sources, Festo is now 93% faster at producing a catalogue. Transparency and well-defined data and process ownerships are the keys to digital transformation.
How Do You Implement a Master Data Management Solution?
In other words: How do you set up a Master Data Management program?
Master Data Management impacts the entire company. Anyone who thinks that it is merely an IT project risks losing the approval of key stakeholders and is likely to fail. Introducing a central Master Data Management system entails changing many roles and processes in the company. It is essential to involve business departments at an early stage and raise awareness of impending changes. A well-planned change management strategy plays a critical role in an MDM project's success.
Master Data Management processes are extremely complex and require a high level of expert knowledge. Organizations that identify potential problem areas before implementing an MDM solution and plan ahead will save time and money during the implementation process.
Master Data Management Is a Strategic Program
From corporate vision and data strategy to IT infrastructure and thus the Master Data Management System - a strategic approach is crucial to the success of any MDM implementation. Gartner's "Seven Building Blocks of MDM "model accurately delineates the essential steps of this approach.
You can only reach your goal if you know what it is. The same applies to data management. Why should Master Data Management be introduced in the company? What will MDM look like in the company? Which overall goals do you want to achieve by harmonizing your master data? And, above all: How will this benefit your business? By clearly answering these questions, stakeholders will be more committed to the project, managers will be more supportive, and the project will be more focused on its goals.
The MDM strategy defines how to achieve the overall vision. It is based on specific objectives, usually set out in terms of sales growth, cost optimization or risk minimization. In this context, you need to identify the application areas, the requirements, and the challenges that Master Data Management cannot solve. Together with the developed roadmap, they provide the strategic backbone for the entire MDM program. For your project to be successful, your data strategy must be aligned with the corporate strategy and be future-oriented.
Setting up a Master Data Management program is not only a complex undertaking involving many parties; it also requires considerable investment. All the more important, therefore, to be able to track performance and measure success. Specific metrics or KPIs that assess the impact of measures on customer satisfaction, revenue and/or costs will increase the acceptance of the MDM initiative within the company.
Governance is about ensuring that you have an authority framework in place with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that assigns clear tasks to all stakeholders. The data governance guideline covers the entire life cycle of master data, from creation, update, and quality assurance, to use and deletion. To achieve optimum results, it should be drawn up early in the MDM project.
Organization and Roles
Effective change management and cross-functional training measures are among the most important success factors of Master Data Management programs. To achieve the objectives of your MDM initiative, you need to optimize and adapt processes and organizational structures. New roles emerge, responsibilities change, new skills are required. This unsettles many employees, which frequently leads to a hostile attitude towards the entire project – something that must definitively be prevented.
Information Life Cycle
In Master Data Management, information is considered a product that has a life cycle. Different types of data require different processes to collect, validate, enrich and publish data, and for data quality management. You need to be fully aware of these information life cycles across different applications and platforms when defining your future Master Data Management processes.
Do you know what processes are involved, which steps are "nice to have", and which are "must-have"? An in-depth understanding of all Master Data Management processes in place ensures that future information life cycles are optimally structured and take all relevant requirements into account.
There are hardly any IT systems that affect as many departments and data domains in a company as Master Data Management systems. The extreme importance of this type of software within the entire corporate IT infrastructure means that you need to select a system very carefully and strategically. The Master Data Management solution must be aligned with the existing and future infrastructure and provide adequate integration options.
No Master Data Management system will ever meet all the requirements of all domains. Nevertheless, in most cases, relying on established software solutions is still the best option. Whether it is best to implement a multi-domain solution or to deploy multiple systems depends on the company's individual requirements, such as, for instance, the underlying data model, the required scalability, or the business process management.
Master Data Management Consulting
An MDM system is not a panacea for all business challenges. To unleash the full potential of an MDM program, you need to have a clear vision, a focused strategic approach, and reliable solution partners at your side. How should you proceed? How can you ensure that the MDM program is successful in the end?
Experienced external business partners provide a valuable contribution to Master Data Management projects. They can assist you, for example, in
- aligning internal business processes with the holistic approach to data management
- harmonizing different visions and points of view to define your goals
- specifying essential requirements and developing sustainable business cases
- setting a course for the future based on different scenarios
- analyzing how the MDM software can be integrated into the existing IT landscape
- motivating employees across different departments to work together in developing a successful change process
Consulting companies such as Parsionate will help you start and drive this complex, interdisciplinary and demanding process according to your needs. A wide range of services ensures that every company receives the right level of support: from strategic consulting incl. change management to the implementation of industry-leading software solutions, Application Management and subsequent training programs.
When implementing a Master Data Management system, the first step should be to analyze the processes in place within the company, for example, with the help of Parsionate's standardized MDM Maturity Benchmark. This data benchmark assesses a company's MDM maturity in respect of one or multiple data domains and enables a systematic analysis of the organization, processes and data flows.
The key to success for digitization and innovative business models lies in long-term and sustainable support. Vendor-independent, strategic business consulting services, coupled with aspects such as ethics, culture, and organization, contribute to a holistic approach to data management.
Master Data Management Systems: Leading Software Solutions
A successful MDM program depends as much on the chosen strategy as on the implemented software. A multi-domain Master Data Management system helps you implement your goals for the MDM program. It consolidates different types of data in a central software solution and eliminates the need for different, redundant systems to maintain master data.
Every year, Gartner analysts outline and rank leading MDM systems in their “Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management Solutions” to help organizations choose the right MDM solution.
Master Data Management and SAP
With its “Master Data Governance”, SAP provides a state-of-the-art Master Data Management solution that helps businesses implement a holistic and streamlined Master Data Management strategy across all master data domains. SAP MDG is the obvious choice for SAP-centric companies, i.e. for companies with an SAP ERP system and in which the ERP system is supposed to be extended by additional application-specific SAP modules. The main goal of SAP Master Data Governance is to improve data quality and to optimize the exchange of data between different departments.
Master Data Management System: Informatica
Informatica's "MDM Multidomain Edition" and "Product 360” solutions are designed for use cases with multiple master data domains. Typically, Informatica customers are mid-sized to large enterprises across multiple vertical markets that benefit from the powerful core features of Informatica's modular end-to-end solution. Gartner repeatedly positioned Informatica as a leading provider for data quality on the software market. This is one reason why both business and tech decision-makers tend to choose an Informatica Master Data Management system more often than any other MDM system.
Recommended link: Parsionate’s consulting team has the largest number of Informatica MDM Product 360 references in Europe and has been repeatedly awarded within the Informatica Partnership program.
Master Data Management System: Syndigo
With its Master Data Management system, Syndigo is primarily focused on digital commerce applications. Syndigo's native Master Data Management cloud solution is designed to provide an unparalleled business user experience and streamline supply chain processes. According to The Forrester Wave: Product Information Management, Syndigo is the leading vendor when it comes to supporting governance and processes and integrating Microsoft Teams for collaboration across a broad range of internal roles. With its microservices approach and built-in AI & analytics, Syndigo offers a cutting-edge platform to meet the challenges of an increasingly digitalized global market.
Three Concepts Explained
The term ''Data Quality'' (DQ) implies that data is fit for its intended use. The higher the data quality, the more confidence employees have in the decisions they make based on their master data, thus reducing risks and increasing efficiency.
Marketing campaigns that miss the mark and invoices that are not delivered often have a common cause: poor data quality.
Master Data Management systems help achieve the criteria of good data quality: correctness, consistency, reliability, completeness, accuracy, timeliness, uniqueness, relevance, conformity, integrity, and clarity.
Master Data Maintenance
High data quality is an essential aspect of an organization's strategy and ensures efficient processes, satisfied customers, and reliable analytics. This presupposes that you continuously maintain, update, and cleanse your master data. A Master Data Management system allows you to easily create, enhance, release, and update master data. Data governance sets out roles and responsibilities that ensure master data is created in line with the relevant data quality standards and that master data maintenance is carried out efficiently.
Master Data Management
The aim of Master Data Management, or MDM, is to simplify data management and thus ensure the completeness and consistency of enterprise data – across multiple systems, applications, databases, departments, and geographies. A highly automated, centralized master data management system reduces errors and redundancies in business processes. It paves the way for AI and analytics as well as stable, competitive business processes.
FAQs about Master Data Management
How Can I Improve the Quality of My Master Data?
To ensure the quality and integrity of your data, you must start right at the source, when creating and entering the data, and thus attack the root causes of errors. Setting up a corporate strategy to collect and maintain master data - and thus ensuring quality throughout the process - is essential. Cleaning up and putting things in order once is not enough. Without proper processes and quality checks in place, the quality of your master data will undoubtedly run into more data quality issues soon enough. You need an approach that addresses not only technical and data-related issues but also organizational and strategic aspects to make sure that the quality of your master data is continuously and sustainably improved.
Organizations that implement a centralized master data management system will benefit from a reliable solution that enables them to establish and maintain high data quality over time.
A workshop should help clarify the following issues: What kind of data do I have, where is it stored, which data do I need for my business processes? What is the quality of my data? What is my definition of “good data quality”? What is the minimum (data volume/quality/scope) I need to achieve the desired customer satisfaction or increase my business model's competitiveness? Who/which departments are responsible for maintaining master data? Is there any data governance process in place that defines how master data is created and maintained?
Only when all of these questions have been answered within the company can you initiate a program to improve the quality of the master data.
How Do I Harmonize My Master Data?
The classical approach is to centralize master data from the outset. In the case of product data, for example, this entails storing information and other assets in a central system rather than in multiple systems. You do not need to harmonize data if it is stored in a central location.
But harmonizing master data also requires integration: in many organizations, different teams work with different systems and get frustrated when data is not shared and linked. Interfaces between the systems can help in this respect. This allows employees to access all data, even though it is stored in different data silos.
A workshop should help clarify the following issues: Where do I keep which data? Who is actively involved in the process (creates or maintains master data)? Is there a strategy (global/local)? Why would I like to harmonize my data?
In the long run, data complexity will continue to increase. Storing all master data in a central system is imperative to avoid costly delays in processes. You also eliminate the need for redundant technologies or inconsistent processes.
How Can I Automate My Data Management Processes?
Businesses need to optimize every stage of the life cycle of master data - from creating to updating and archiving - to meet their specific organizational needs. This is an expensive and time-consuming process that is also prone to errors.
Therefore, the first step in automation is to find out whether it is possible to avoid data maintenance altogether. For instance, many companies streamline master data that they could simply retrieve from business partners, e.g., product data from suppliers. Retailers should rather focus on integrating high-quality product data from their suppliers than on creating, maintaining, and optimizing their own master data.
Methods such as AI, analytics, ML, text mining or big data processing automate content generation (texts, for example) or the extraction of attribute values from existing long texts. Furthermore, maintenance of master data can be automated with suitable data models and metadata management.
A workshop should help clarify the following issues: How relevant is (master) data for my business-critical processes? Is it subject to specific approvals? What would I gain by automating processes? What would I risk?