Understanding the Foundations of Customer Master Data Management

Understanding the Foundations of Customer Master Data Management

Like any approach to supporting or improving business functions, Customer MDM has a number of critical aspects that need to be considered. Here are some critical aspects that should drive your thinking and adoption of CMDM.

A Vision of Master Data Management

Consider the circumstances of your organization and what it is exactly that has placed you in a position where you think a more disciplined approach to customer master data management is required to support your vision.

Are you struggling with data quality issues, has your organization outgrown spreadsheets, and are you encountering data-driven problems that give customers a less than ideal experience? Not down what you think an MDM tool or the customer master will yield to your business and lay those out as the broad goals for the program.

Your Strategy for MDM implementation

You’ll need to work out what you will need to implement or change to support your vision. Sometimes this is going to come down to business processes and policies, but it may also involve people and systems.

It would be somewhat unrealistic to think that you could layer in a whole new raft of organizational thinking around the customer master by simply continuing to do what you do today without some sort of change. You may even need to bring in consultants or experts in customer data management to help guide your direction.

An MDM Framework

You’ll recognize that any reasonably well-managed program is made up of three fundamentals attributes, people, process, and technology. This could have varying degrees of investment but determining whether you want to have the program-driven more by one attribute than another is going to be part of the definition of your data management framework which in turn will influence your adoption strategy.

As such you’ll want to work out which parts of the overall framework are most important and line those up as your business rules, data collection, distribution and curation processes, and the definitions of people and function roles all while retaining data privacy and legal data compliance.

Recognizing that People create and use data

It’s easy to think that systems drive themselves, but the reality is that it is people who create, edit and use data and customer master data in particular. For an MDM program to be effective, you need to define the roles and responsibilities of the users of your systems to ensure that they are sufficiently knowledgeable and aware of the overall vision for MDM, the way it will be implemented and maintained, and the framework of definition that provides guardrails for the program.

You’ll need to consider how the program will change their existing roles and functions and whether they have the necessary skills to be most effective in the program.

The power of Process

Within any MDM program, there is a broad range of master data management processes. These will be a combination of existing work practices and potentially new ones that will be defined and imposed as a result of the adoption of a data management framework.

These will include but are not limited to business rule management, data classification, collection, access control, quality management, enrichment, mapping, matching, standardization, normalization, distribution, and reporting.

Technology is not MDM but it can help

It’s confusing when the names attributed to technologies, suggest that they are that thing that you are in pursuit of. The fact is, that no technology will solve your defined business problems without the support of the greater aspects of the program. With customer master data management, you could implement the technology in isolation of business changes but the effectiveness of the technology on the overall goals and intent of the program will be understated or fall short of the objectives that you have in mind and your processes will likely be hindered by the lack of rigor you might need.

You can escape an ambitious implementation by starting with the softer parts of the program but as you come to be more familiar with the needs and expectations of the program you may well find that implementing tools is unavoidable. Any CMCM platform should support your ability to improve your customer data management program irrespective of which stage you are at by allowing you to adopt the platform at any point.

Measure what matters

Any program implemented, whether it be around master data management, customer retention, customer acquisition, or sales and marketing needs to have some goal definition and ways of measuring progress towards those goals.

You should start your program with a baseline of assessment and pick the aspects of that baseline that are most critical to focus on in terms of assessing the effectiveness of the program. A good data management baseline measure might be the overall completeness of customer master data, another might be the overall quality of the master data and a more ambitious one might be the level of duplication that you have in your customer master data.

Each of these measures needs to be defined and examined in the context of the changes that you plan to implement to move the needle in relation to those measures. In the end, whatever you measure needs to tie back to your vision and support it.

Have you found additional aspects that are important that are not cited here?

I would love to hear about them.

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