Why Master Data Management (MDM) Adoption Starts with Data Strategy

Riversand

By Riversand

On May 13, 2021

When companies first consider Master Data Management (MDM) software, it’s often because their data is in chaos. They’ve tried everything else, and need a remedy now.

Yet when your data is on fire, it’s easy to overlook one critical question: How will you organize your company to support this new data model?

The answer lies in forming a solid data strategy.

In this article, we’ll explore how to begin creating a data strategy as the first step to your MDM implementation.

This post is part of our new series on MDM Business Adoption, dedicated to helping businesses think holistically about the people, process, and technology required for success.

The Role of Data Strategy in Business Adoption

Business adoption hinges on your organizational readiness, as well as your methodology of implementation. Some of the most popular approaches include:

  • Big bang adoption — involves replacing an existing system and transferring all users at once. While faster and more straightforward, it can introduce risks by forcing users into a sudden transition.
  • Parallel adoption — allows using the existing and new system in tandem, easing the transition. It’s viewed as a more foolproof and user-friendly option; however, some duplication and inefficiency may occur.
  • Phased rollout — involves incremental implementation of your new system, phased by components, business units, regions, etc. This method allows time for acceptance and insights, though some data quality hiccups can occur.
  • Piloting — helps companies roll out the new system to a small test group for evaluation. This method can add time and expense upfront, but removes much of the risk of a failed adoption.

As you can see, there are many ways to approach business adoption of master data management. But before you even evaluate which method would work best for your business, you need to start with Data Strategy.

Defining What Data Strategy is — and What it Isn’t

First and foremost, your data strategy is top-down alignment with your business goals and strategy.

At Riversand, we like to approach this discussion by asking, what do you want to be when you grow up?

In other words, what are your high-level business goals, and how can well-governed and centrally managed data help you get there?

Data is an intrinsic part of your business. Therefore, your strategy should both enable your business strategy and inspire future goals.

It’s also important to note what data strategy isn’t.

  • It shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter approach: When it comes to your data, your rules apply. There are best practices, but your business is unique, and your data strategy should be, too.
  • It’s not a silver bullet: Get into this process knowing it will take work. At some point data strategy requires a leap of faith, but you must take ownership to decide what’s important to you. The good news? It’s worth it. Those who proactively define a data strategy see a faster return on investment (ROI) when launching MDM.

Gartner Analyst Sally Parker drives home this point, saying, “MDM offers the biggest reward when done correctly, but requires the biggest effort. Think big, start small, be prepared”.

What is the Key Purpose of a Data Strategy?

There are many reasons why MDM or Product Information Management (PIM) implementations fail. But if you follow the breadcrumb trail of issues, it will likely lead back to a missing or ill-defined data strategy.

When you hardwire your strategy, it helps set the stage for everything your company will do related to your data. You can break down its purpose into three primary roles:

  • Offers a framework: It provides a structure for how you’ll organize and govern your data, as well as how you’ll position your company to embrace the change necessary for successful business adoption.
  • Sets the foundation: As the complexity of your data grows, managing it becomes more challenging. A well-defined strategy serves as a foundation from which you can proactively respond and evolve.
  • Acts as a guide: Your strategy will define the people, processes, policies, and culture to guide your data initiatives. It helps your business users and groups work in agreement and alignment, not in silos or opposition.

Weaving these areas together — and mapping out the goals, requirements, and key performance indicators (KPIs) — is where most companies struggle. We’ve put together a checklist below to help.

Checklist for What to Include in a Data Strategy

For companies grappling with bad data, coming up with a strategy can feel overwhelming. Our advice is to start with the basics. Think through the following three actions:

  1. Set clear goals and objectives: Defining goals is crucial to your success. These goals will drive your strategy and activities, and help you continue to improve how you handle your data. You’ll likely set short-term goals and long-term goals related to each component of your data strategy.
  2. Establish the right roles: Determine how you will organize the individuals within your company to support the new Data Strategy. Consider the following key questions:
    • Who are your champions?
    • Who will help steer the project?
    • What groups or business units should be involved?
    • What individual roles should you establish?
    • Do you need outside help?
  3. Get your leadership on board: Your project needs champions (those who feel the pain, see MDM as the remedy, and can evangelize for the solution). However, you also need leadership support, ideally from the very top. To accomplish this, create a proposal that clearly shows the business value in tangible terms. Include your plan for ROI, including quick wins and long-term impact.

When is the Right Time to Create a Data Strategy?

It’s important to think about your data strategy requirements before evaluating MDM software. This is the ideal state. But what if you’re already a few paces down the path? Know that it’s never too late to hit pause and make sure you’re organized for success.

In these cases, it’s even more important to get help from MDM experts, like Riversand and/or a trusted Systems Integrator (SI), to provide focused, strategic guidance to help your implementation plan.

Unlike most SaaS MDM vendors, Riversand offers Business Adoption and Change Management expertise in addition to our market-leading software. And whether you work with us directly, or one of our talented SI partners, we’ve got you covered.

Need help with your Data Strategy? Reach out to Riversand for more information on our SaaS MDM platform.

And stay tuned for the next installment in our Business Adoption series!

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