I recently read a great blog by Aaron Zornes, “Go Governance, Go Early”, in which Aaron called out the need for the discipline of a Master Data Governance to coincide with the deployment of an MDM solution. I couldn’t agree more!
Data Stewards are not the only people in your organization affected by master data, so why are most programs built almost solely around the data stewardship role? Master data permeates every business process and operational aspect of your enterprise. Shouldn’t that in-and-of-itself mandate that a formal set of policies and procedures be present to be sure that your data is as well-managed as your human or financial capital assets? Shockingly, this isn’t the norm. Too many organizations jump head first into the technical aspects of managing data trying to get it done without realizing the importance of getting it done right. Business engagement is an imperative through the life of the program. MDM is not a project or an event, it is a sustainable program that requires a shared vision between IT and business operations to return value to the enterprise.
As more and more companies move toward Service Oriented Architectures using Business Process Management Systems, the need is even greater. These organizations will come to rely on standard, centralized methods for execution of business logic. Consistent logic is of little use without accurate data. Applying the same principles advocated in BPMS methodologies to data management practices just makes sense. And, isn’t that precisely what master data governance is intended to do? Create a consistent set of policies and procedures to ensure that the management of master data is done in a structured, consistent, measurable, and auditable fashion. The results are repeatability and predictability of process execution, and improved integrity of data than cannot be achieved by sheer luck.
Progressive, process-minded organizations are hungry for governed approaches to managing master and reference data. There is a fundamental understanding that as data crosses functional boundaries, the “not my problem” mentality has to be eliminated. This requires that data policies serve as the “contract” between operational handoffs assuring that data received into a business operation meets the quality standards defined by that process step.
The accelerated adoption of governance principles in the master data context is incredible. The realization that a little planning and some rigor around managing data means – not just getting it right, but getting it right the first time – is really sinking in. Too many starts and stops in too many data management initiatives have taken its toll. Let’s take a step back, take a deep breath and do it right this time.