But will MDM Help us? Good Question.
In our gut, we know the answer is yes, but our management wants more than the gut; they want some specifics. At a high level, some of the benefits of MDM include:
- Create a single source of master data ensuring business applications are using one version of the truth
- Eliminate data duplication and data inconsistencies leading to improved data quality
- Reduce the work of entering the same data in multiple systems
- Gain the ability to measure the impact of data on different parts of the business
- Meet global, regional and local business requirements in a coordinated manner
- Increase agility when it comes to changing business needs for data
- Expand the insight across the business instead of being confined to functional or regional silos #MD
The possibilities are endless with MDM
MDM supports all this and much more, and who doesn’t want a flexible system of accurate, consistent master data readily available to business users to help with critical decisions? We all do. But often we find internal MDM advocates get stuck going to the next level of detail, and, as a result, the project never quite gets off the ground.
We have seen it time again. An internal enthusiast is presenting a case for MDM, highlighting the strategic value of MDM, when someone in the audience rains on the parade by asking “… that all sounds good, but how does it help us, specifically”. The answer to that question is somewhat unique to each company, but it is readily available. All you need to do is ask the people in the company whose job is affected by data, which is probably most people and track some of their responses to the root data issue.
We were working with a Fortune 500 CPG company with a 100+ year heritage. We began by identifying several of the critical information flows within the organization, then we interviewed various individuals in that flow.
Here’s just a sampling of how that played out.
Logistics and Transportation
“Trucks are being stopped at the Mexico border due to data accuracy issues.”
“Our product shipments are getting rejected by customs because of bad data.”
“We can’t audit 3PL invoices because our measurement and weight data are less accurate than theirs.”
Bad data was jamming up the supply chain between this manufacturer and its customers. Weights and measurements were entered multiple times when we started digging for the root causes. Some rounded the numbers, and others carried the decimals out multiple places. A unit variance of .1 ounce doesn’t seem like much until you multiply it by a truckload. In this case, there weren’t just delays, but significant fines that they accepted as a cost of doing business. They could have justified the MDM investment in this area alone.
Product Marketing & Merchandising
“We’ve started an Amazon program, but we are submitting products 3 and 4 times because the data keeps getting rejected.”
“We’re concerned that many of our products are showing up online with incorrect product names, poor descriptions, and even incorrect branding. Stuff like that hurts our brand.”
“People delete or change a product code with no knowledge of the impact on someone else globally who may be using that code.”
These were valuable insights. All are examples of data actually hindering sales for a company with over $10B in sales, doing business in over 70 countries. The most minute improvement could be very dramatic. Even if an MDM program did nothing more than give Product Marketing 5% more time to devote to marketing product versus fighting data the potential return is tremendous.
“I don’t understand how to populate the data fields correctly, nor can I tell you the impact of incorrectly populating them. If we get it wrong, eventually someone will just have us correct it.”
“We use spreadsheets to capture vendor data because our system (SAP) doesn’t have the right fields.”
“Unfortunately, a lot of our data is entered manually by people who lack the training and business knowledge.”
That’s right, over $10B in sales with manual data entry and spreadsheet master files. Now we’re getting at some of the systemic issues MDM can address. We ensure data is entered correctly while developing and managing policies. Then, we capture and manage incremental data, and we do it all upfront before we hit some of the downstream impacts we’ve outlined.
So in the case of this company, as is the fact with most – yes, MDM can help with many data-related issues that are impacting the business today. The challenge is that, too often, the tactical is obvious to us as MDM enthusiasts and we are more excited about the profound impact MDM can have on the company. We see the forest, and we forget that some of the execs want to see some trees. It’s why we take a very deliberate approach to MDM. We like to design and implement a vision that delivers game-changing results while demonstrating tactical wins along the way.