At a recent user conference, I was asked, “why do I need DRM in my organization?” A very interesting question with both a short and long answer. Let’s cover the short answer first… DRM (Data Relationship Management) provides organizations the ability to centralize the governance of enterprise dimensional master data while ensuring the data is captured and maintained with a high level of quality. DRM does this while also providing easy integration and distribution to downstream systems. A few of DRM’s key benefits include:
– Minimal IT involvement; empowers business user driven master data management
– Automatic and customizable attribute management
– Real-time validation of master data
– Advanced configurable workflow
– Sarbanes-Oxley compliant auditing capabilities
So you may be thinking this sounds great, but does it provide an in-depth answer to the question? Probably not. So, let’s start tackling the “long answer”.
The how, what, why, where, and when of the MDM (Master Data Management) landscape is drastically changing. Not only are the changes influenced by recent advances in Big Data, cloud computing, mobile capabilities, EPM technologies, etc., but executives are continuously placing increased importance on data governance and data quality. Why? Well because studies are showing the monetary costs of “bad data” — $13.5 million per year for an average organization according to Gartner. And “clean data” is essentially beginning to be treated on the same level as scarce commodities. Data quality is becoming so essential that organizations are hiring CDOs (Chief Data Officers) to lead data governance efforts.
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see that most mid-to-large size companies are experiencing a dramatic shift in the importance of managing data, including master data. So the question really should be restated, “how does DRM ensure my organization can handle current and future challenges associated with the increased focus on master data?”
The answer lies within an understanding of several essential components within every organization that directly affect MDM; people, process, and tools. Since we all love acronyms, we’ll refer to this as PPT going forward. All MDM challenges can be categorized into one or more of the areas of PPT. It is the goal of DRM to help resolve these challenges across PPT; specifically in the area of enterprise dimensions (i.e. hierarchies used across multiple facets of an organization). Before explaining DRM’s capabilities towards this goal, we’ll briefly cover each component of PPT within the context of enterprise dimensional governance.
Undoubtedly, people are a key component in any MDM environment. People serve as suppliers, administrators, governors, and of course, consumers of master data. The below chart describes the typical types of users in most organizations.
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As you might imagine, organizations differ in terms of the formality and segregation of users across the different types. For example, some organizations may have a Governance Committee that meets regularly to set clear rules for administrators to adhere by when managing master data. Others may not have a committee at all, or may operate on loosely defined MDM rules; leaving administrators and users to feel they live in the “wild, wild west”. Either way, it’s important to first understand the people and their role involved in every step of the processes involving enterprise dimensions.
After understanding the roles of each individual (or type of user if the user base is large), it’s extremely vital to understand the pain points of the users. For example, data stewards may experience frustration with data contributors’ routinely providing inadequate information when submitting MDM updates. Or another example may be the data consumers’ lack of confidence in the data stewards’ ability to apply updates in a timely and accurate manner. Both examples lead to costly delays in the reporting and decision-making processes. It’s important to understand these relationship issues between users. Why? Well, because DRM can help to eliminate these types of issues through several of its capabilities (which we’ll see later).
OK, so users and their relationships are important; got it. But what about the processes that users are required to follow when requesting or applying master data changes? What if it’s not only the users that are causing issues, but also the processes? Or maybe the users are not the issue at all, but rather the complicated rules and guidelines that application admins have to keep in mind for each different type of request. The below image provides an example of a costly MDM process: multiple points of maintenance, numerous interactions between individuals/departments, various mediums used for those interactions, and many failure points.
And many times, a difficult/complex/broken process leads to inaccuracies in reporting across various systems…
Organizations do not intentionally create over-engineered MDM processes. It’s usually the result of additional systems, organization and/or industry specific requirements, organizational changes, etc. over time. And while organizations may attempt to simplify their MDM processes without a best-of-breed platform such as DRM, it’s usually at the expense of increased manual effort or costly custom-built in-house solutions (or a combination of both).
DRM can reduce these costs and overcome the dimensional/hierarchical challenges faced by organizations. Capabilities such as validations to provide immediate feedback to users, flexible import and export types to allow easy integration with a wide variety of source and target systems, and workflow all provide automation to replace manual efforts.
So, to summarize, we’ve covered the key aspects of PPT:
1. People: understanding user types and their relationships to one another
2. Process: balancing efficiency and data quality with organizational/industry/statutory requirements
3. Tools: the systems serving as sources and targets of dimensional master data
In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at DRM’s components to answer why it’s the essential tool for managing dimensional master data and how it addresses the challenges across PPT.