Common snags that derail most MDM implementations and how to avoid them 

June 24, 2024
Master Data Management Challenges

Master Data Management (MDM) projects are critical for ensuring that an organization’s data is consistent, accurate, and accessible across all business units. However, these initiatives often come with a host of challenges. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common snags we have encountered during MDM projects and provide practical strategies for avoiding them, ensuring your MDM initiative delivers the value your organization expects. 

  1. Improper understanding of scope or too broad of a scope: When the scope of the MDM project is not properly defined or understood by all parties, there can be a significant expectations gap regarding what it is expected to do. For example, a customer might engage us to integrate with their ERP. But after some time, there might be a request to integrate with the CRM as well. This kind of scope creep can add to the timeline of a project and increase implementation costs which can create significant chao. So, it becomes important to get aligned on the project’s scope before it begins to ensure a smooth project and satisfied stakeholders.
  2. MDM that is categorized as a technology project that’s solely the purview of the IT department:  When a business embarks on an MDM project, it is important to ensure that the sponsor of the project communicates the business value of the MDM project to all stakeholders. This will ensure that the team (business owners, purchasing managers, head of compliance etc.) understands what an MDM truly is, and how many aspects of the business it will affect and improve – faster time to market, fewer compliance errors, single source of truth. In addition to framing the implementation more accurately, this will increase buy-in into the project, which will have significant benefits down the line.  
  3. Lacking a senior business sponsor can be detrimental to the project overall: Not having a business sponsor can lead to a lack of strategic alignment for the project, insufficient funding and resources, poor stakeholder engagement, and inadequate change management, all of which will severely impact the ability of the project to succeed. Conversely, a senior sponsor of the project – like a CIO or CFO – can play a key role in providing regular updates to the organization and reminding participants of the underlying business value gained. All key parties must therefore establish a senior business sponsor of the MDM project to ensure smooth implementation.  
  4. Improper alignment with the business use cases of the customer: Even the best MDM solution can seem ineffective when it’s not aligned with the business case. Before implementing MDM, a comprehensive business process review can help establish the areas that can benefit from an MDM. During this process, the specific areas that need improvement can be laid out to gauge the effectiveness of the MDM project. Throughout the implementation, these areas can be monitored and improvement in value can be communicated to show impact more clearly to all business owners. (Also see the point below about metrics) 
  5. Absence of metrics for success: It’s a management cliché but you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Sometimes MDM projects are started with vague understanding that it will improve their business. Still, while going through their own implementations, customers fail to establish metrics and KPIs that they can track. Without these metrics, it becomes difficult to communicate the value of the MDM project to stakeholders and business owners. Laying out a clear set of metrics before the project launches can help improve buy-in into the project but it can also make it easy to track areas that aren’t improving and attempt to fix those too. 
  6. Poor corporate culture and ineffective change management regarding MDM: Culture beats strategy, and even the best products and planning cannot overcome all the issues that arise from lack of attention to change management, implementation follow-through or siloed/protective departments. Due to the way MDM integrates into the tech stack of a business, it ends up changing the way a lot of people in the business work. From communicating with product vendors to synchronizing customer data across different systems and even to the way how changes to master data are made, an MDM brings about significant changes to a business that can be disruptive if not paired with detailed communication and training to all users of the system.  
  7. Finally, a lack of expertise among the project participants can cause anything from massive underperformance of the solution to total failure of the project. Oftentimes industry expertise is a potential blind spot for customers.  They might feel confident that they understand the needs and use cases of the business, but no single business possesses the breadth of understanding and knowledge of the needs of an industry the way that a vendor catering to that domain does. Bringing in subject matter experts, whether internally or from the vendor or an implementation partner can go a long way to ensure the success of the project.

Successfully navigating the complexities of MDM projects requires foresight, planning, and a keen awareness of common pitfalls. By understanding and addressing these issues you maximize the success and impact of your MDM initiative. Remember, the key to a successful MDM project lies in proactive management and continuous improvement. If you’re ready to enhance your organization’s data management practices and avoid these common pitfalls, reach out to our team of experts today for a consultation. Together, we can build a robust MDM strategy that drives your business forward. 

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