GDPR: Avoiding Master Data Management Pitfalls
The forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation might be a new piece of legislation, but at heart, it’s an exercise in good old-fashioned data management, with master data management (MDM) playing an important part. MDM is essentially a collection of practices, processes, and technologies that ensure the integrity of multiple domains of enterprise data, and touches every corner of a business.
But if master data is so fundamental to today’s analytics-driven business processes and compliant operations, why do so many companies fall at the first hurdle with their MDM initiatives? Here are the five most common oversights and omissions we’ve observed on our travels and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1 – Skipping the Business Case
In their haste to get going, many organisations fail to identify the business need and value of their MDM project, and the stakeholders and business users who will impacted. Creating a realistic business case is the way to win both executive sponsorship and business user buy-in. Business users are intimately familiar with the ways data is captured and used in their functions and processes, so it pays to spend time with them, digging into the day-to-day impact of data quality issues and to learn how much they are costing the business. Funding for your initiative is more likely to follow if you can quantify the benefits and costs of fixing the pain points or business problems. And don’t forget to factor into your business case the potential costs of failing to comply with GDPR, from financial penalties to reputational damage and loss of customer trust.
Mistake #2 – Treating MDM as a “Big Bang” Initiative
Successful MDM initiatives are a balancing act between the strategic and the tactical. Don’t make the scope of your maiden MDM project so large that it can’t be completed quickly or effectively, otherwise you’ll struggle to demonstrate value to your sponsor and stakeholders. But neither should your project be so short-term in its outlook that you can’t demonstrate how it will support strategic business value. Focus initially on a single domain – the customer makes a good starting point in light of the looming GDPR deadline. Include in scope what-if scenarios, such as your future business direction, expansion into new geographies or markets, new customer segments, and new or unexpected data sources. Prepare to be flexible to meet unanticipated requirements, and plan for continuous improvement.
Mistake #3 – A Lack of Metrics to Measure Success
Without agreed performance metrics, you will never be able to answer that all-important question: “Are we there yet?”. You won’t be able to tie the value of your MDM initiative back to the ROI goals in your business case, which could lose you executive sponsorship, and your stakeholders won’t understand the impact on their business area and jobs, which may make them dig in their heels at the prospect of change. Metrics help you quantify the benefits achieved against the costs of applying MDM to solve business problems. For example, if the project’s purpose is to provide reliable customer data relating to sales, your metrics might be around improving retention or increasing cross-selling opportunities.
Mistake #4 – Ignoring the Need for Cultural Change
Consolidating and standardising master data will inevitably reveal data and business silos that lurk within your organisation, prompting you to examine cross-functional processes and the question of data ownership. Remember that stakeholders, constituents, and influencers will make or break your MDM initiative. It’s human nature to resist even positive change, so while communication is important, listening is vital to uncover, understand, and address any problems beneath the headline concerns. Identify who is impacted by specific aspects of your project, and seek out both your proponents and opponents. A well-constructed engagement strategy can go a long way towards managing change and promoting transparency.
Mistake #5 – Betting on the Wrong Technology
Your choice of MDM solution should reflect your total business need, not just that of a single department. So, if you’re evaluating new technologies, avoid narrowly specialised MDM solutions that only address a single data domain. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a patchwork of poorly integrated technologies further down the line. Make sure you involve representatives of all stakeholders – not just IT – in specifying the requirements, reviewing software offerings, and settling on the purchasing decision. But don’t expect your shiny new MDM platform to be a shoo-in – gaining mastery over your data doesn’t just involve technology, but also people and politics, practices and processes, all of which need to be aligned to help you deliver a successful programme. Avoiding these common pitfalls can go a long way towards delivering a smooth, functional MDM programme: one that will result in more efficient business processes, an improved customer experience, better decision-making – oh, and help you deal with that small matter of GDPR compliance. To find out more about how Information Builders can help your quest for data mastery, get in touch.