What Are the Most Overlooked Challenges of Master Data Adoption?

March 17, 2022

Critical Steps to Address MDM Change Management

The phrase “change management” has become a bit of a buzzword in the master data space — but its importance cannot be overstated. At its core, change management recognizes that MDM will change your organization. Whether that change is positive or negative ultimately depends on how you address the barriers to adoption.

Here are five of the most often overlooked challenges to adopting master data—plus five easy steps to address MDM change management.

The Most Overlooked Challenges to MDM Adoption

When it comes to MDM adoption, most barriers fall under an overarching problem — failing to determine your organizational readiness before starting the project.

It’s crucial to remain realistic about readiness and prepare accordingly. That means:

    • Assessing your organizational culture
    • Gauging openness and support within the leadership (and those who lead data initiatives throughout your organization)
    • Determining data-driven maturity

As you evaluate these areas, there are a few common pitfalls you could face. Let’s dive deeper into the most overlooked challenges to MDM adoption.

Not involving the business early and often.

Many MDM or PIM projects begin as an IT project. That’s okay – in fact, IT should be involved at every step. However, bringing in business stakeholders too late can cause misalignment with actual pain points and desired outcomes. Ensuring organizational readiness requires gaining input from both IT and key business stakeholders. It will also ease the process to create a regular cadence for discussion and collaboration along the way.

Not validating the data and business processes that matter most.

Companies deal with massive amounts of data, and it’s growing every year. But not all data is equally valuable to your business. Furthermore, while many may realize they have data problems, they don’t capture the full extent of the related process challenges and gaps.

The key is to focus on the outcomes of solving your most vexing business problems; then tailor your data management efforts toward those areas.

For example: Review your processes and try to identify either the gaps in the available data or the amount of time and effort it takes to procure the data necessary to make an evaluation, insight, or decision. Then, think about how to capture this information in different contexts and develop models to help decision makers. Finally, reflect on what may happen in your industry in the next five years, and how you can establish trust in your master data to align with those trends.

Isolating analytical capabilities from the business.

A key to MDM adoption is showing the value of the program to the business as a whole. Organizations that struggle to create value through analytics tend to develop their analytics capabilities in isolation, far removed from business metrics and stakeholders, or in poorly coordinated organizational silos. Neither of these models are effective.

Data must flow across the organization seamlessly, with analytics capabilities embedded into the core business. This requires providing access to the analytics capabilities and reports with a platform through which people can easily access data.

Failing to determine the right-sized approach.

Finally, many MDM projects fail because they are unnecessarily complex. And on the flip side, some projects omit features that many users consider essential to their day-to-day jobs. The key is to strike a balance and find the right-sized approach.

One way to address this challenge is to evaluate the current mindset of your users. Do you know how they feel about the system currently in place? Are there custom capabilities that they expect to transfer to the new system? Do they understand the why behind the MDM initiative?

Evaluating mindset will help you set the stage for successful MDM adoption — as will the following five steps to address change management.

Five Steps to Kickstart Your Change Management Process

 #1: Define Your Business Outcomes

Every MDM initiative must begin with defining your business outcomes. In other words, what are your high-level business goals, and how can well-governed and centrally managed data help you get there? The key to this process is formulating a data strategy.

Why is a data strategy so important to change management? Because it defines the people, processes, policies, and culture to guide your data initiatives. And, it helps your business users and groups work in agreement and alignment, not in silos or opposition.

Then, once you’ve defined a data strategy, it may help to identify and select an MVP (minimum viable product) that addresses your most relevant business outcome(s). You can roll out your MVP fast to show value from the MDM program.

#2: Document the Risks

It’s hard to plan for what hasn’t been documented. Think about the impact and risks to your data, processes, and systems. Remember to get feedback and input from IT and business stakeholders. Then, create documentation to back up your observations.

Also, be sure to document and plan for expenses in your budget. Remember that costs vary based on perpetual/subscription-based licenses, consulting, usage, and external provider expenses.

 #3: Determine Ownership

Determining ownership is a crucial step — otherwise, who will steer the ship? An easy step is to establish an MDM project owner and c-level sponsor. These champions will lead the project, break down barriers to adoption, gather support, and make final decisions.

#4: Set Timing Expectations

Be sure to create a reasonable timeline and convey the rationale behind it to business and IT stakeholders. If the timing of your MDM launch is too short, you may fail to prepare your organization and users. If it’s too long, you may overwhelm and exhaust the team.

If you know your risks and establish ownership, it should be easier to determine a reasonable timeline that incorporates adequate testing and training without causing strain.

#5: Plan to Scale

Remember — you don’t need to tackle all your data, for every part of the business, all at once. Many companies wisely decide to start on a smaller scale, then evolve the implementation over time to encourage business adoption. Having an application with embedded change management and training is a good start, because it makes it easier to scale the adoption across multiple business departments, geographies, and beyond.

The good news is that when you choose a unified platform like Syndigo MDM, you won’t have to rip and replace when you’re ready to expand. Syndigo enables data management for Product Information Management (PIM), the Customer Experience Domain, as well as MDM for multiple other domains — all in a single solution. As a cloud-native SaaS with infinite app extendibility, it’s the perfect way to scale.

Next Steps for Successful MDM Adoption

While it’s prudent to think about all the things that could go wrong (i.e., your risks or challenges), it’s also important to remember all that can go right. Adopting a new MDM system should be an exciting time for your company — and it can be when you take purposeful steps to successful change management.

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