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Business and IT partnership – a key success factor to success in MDM

Digitalization is underway!

Within companies, information needs to be considered an asset on par with factories, trucks fleet or locations. Controlling the process of: data sourcing, transforming and transmission has become mandatory to increase business efficiency and competitiveness.

Master Data Management is a discipline in which Business and IT work together to ensure uniformity, accuracy, semantic consistency and accountability of this enterprise data asset.

MDM formalizes the central governance of master data with a process that supports active data stewardship and coordinates the delivery of and access to master data throughout the organization.

Given its pan-organizational reach, MDM initiatives will not meet success without deep business involvement.

A MDM project is a combination of three main work areas which drive multiple questions:

  • Business processes
    • How will Master Data logic integrate business processes?
    • How will business teams operate Master Data Management?
  • Organization
    • What are the roles and responsibilities related to the Master Data Governance?
    • How the Company should be organized to run effective Governance?
  • Information System
    • Which technical solution can translate business and IT needs?
    • How to ensure full business alignment and acceptance?

These are reasons why the business and IT partnership is part of the MDM journey. We can point out the main steps to not miss:

1- Involve business at the beginning of the MDM initiative and get sponsorship

Before launching the project it is really important to define the vision and the objectives from a business and IT point of view. Determining the quantitative and qualitative business benefits will ensure business involvement during the whole project.
Do not hesitate to be too pragmatic or concrete during this exercise. For example, benefits like “time saving for doing monthly report” are also very important for the business and the top management.

2- Select a technology that business teams can adopt easily

When selecting a MDM technology for a project, the 1st assessment criteria should be its ability to translate business needs and include business processes. Two main technical areas have to be carefully investigated during the MDM tool selection process:

  • User interface: should be acceptable to the business, easy-to-use, pragmatic, efficient, with a nice look & feel
  • Workflows: should be able to encode the Master Data Management business processes

3- Organize the project with a dual business and IT project managers

Magellan’s project experiences show the benefits of having 2 project managers:

  • Shorter decision making process
  • Develops business and IT partnership for the future master data governance initiatives
  • Better response to business requirements
  • Long term IT vision sharing (e.g.: multidomain MDM, identity access management…)

For example in the case of an Employee MDM project an optimized organization may appear as follows:

– Business Sponsor – Group HR Director

    • Co-head Business Project Manager – HRIS Manager

– IT Sponsor – Group IT Director

    • Co-head IT Project Manager – IT Support Functions Manager

4- Agile methods facilitate a day-to-day partnership

As said previously, MDM project require a day-to-day business and IT partnership that has to be reflected by the project methodology.

With an agile methodology we can avoid the tunnel effect that we’ve all experienced first hand. The business works alone to design its processes. Then IT defines technical specifications and designs the tool. And finally Business realizes, during user acceptance testing, that IT misunderstood their design specifications.

To avoid this put it place an iterative methodology based on short cycles (one to three weeks):

  • Design business processes
  • Prototype then in the tool
  • Write specifications

Repeat with more details and again and again until the tool is ready to go live.

In short, Master Data Management Projects require a strong partnership between business and IT teams at every stage of the MDM initiative. Our experience has shown that this partnership is a key success factor. Each MDM project is an experiment of sorts, that will test aspects of this partnership. This experimentation is necessary in order to sustain every Master Data governance program and the evolution of the discipline.

About Magellan Consulting

Magellan Consulting is an operational strategy and information technology French consulting firm founded in 2008 with an original positioning based on a dual competency both in customers’ businesses and Information Technology area. With more than 100 consultants Magellan Consulting provides a vast panel of services from the strategic target design to the operational business, technical and functional implementation for Major clients in Energy, Industry, Bank, Insurance and Utilities sectors. For more information please:

About the author

Brice Emonet is responsible for the IT Strategy and Governance offer of Magellan Consulting and especially for the Master Data Management area. He has also worked for major international companies from the MDM strategy definition to the Project Management.

@Brice_Emonet