Five Ways to Transform Business Processes with MDM

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Change is a critical factor in MDM implementations, because business processes can and do change as a result of more mature data management practices within the enterprise. Change management must be handled with care. There are 5 techniques that facilitate change and smooth out some of the bumps along the way.

William McKnight, President, McKnight Consulting Group; [email protected]
William will be speaking at the Master Data Management Summit & Data Governance Conference Europe 14-17 May 2018 in London, one the topics presented will be “Selecting from the Data Platforms to Create a Modern Data Architecture”.

Change management must always accompany the implementation of master data management (MDM) programs. In fact, it is a key ingredient and determining factor in the ultimate success (or failure) of MDM in an organization. Change is inherent in any information management project, but with MDM the changed is pronounced—particularly to end users. Companies are more and more data driven, so employees from analysts to marketing to sales professionals constantly use and manage data every day. In a company without MDM (or implementing MDM for the first time), these individual data management practices vary from pragmatic to sophisticated. Spreadsheets abound and key data elements are floated around as different users contribute or manipulate them to answer their business questions or manage their groups’ processes.

MDM is a catalyst to change all that and bring maturity and discipline to our data management practices. The benefits to the organization and the individual user are easy to state and quantify. When you get business users in the room and explain it all, you likely will get head nods and agreement. However, once the project is underway, there is change, roadblocks, and difficulty in adoption. Why? If everyone agreed MDM is the way to go, why is it difficult to adopt and adapt?

Imagine if all your employees drive their cars to work. In order to reduce commute times, traffic, and the environmental footprint, you require your employees to drive (or take the bus) to a central train terminal and ride the train to the office. Although most would see the greater good, there would be a lot of moaning and groaning. Most would have to alter their daily routine or would bemoan the loss of personal freedom—even if the train ride saved them the headaches of traffic, fuel costs, and even got them to the office in less time.

We tout MDM in much the same way—a centralized platform where data can be managed efficiently—saving effort, reducing redundant efforts, sharing data. However, users do give up some personal freedom. Maybe they lose their spreadsheet they have loving maintained for years—changing the layout and adding columns as they please. Maybe they have to change their routine to get a report out. Or, maybe toughest of all, they have to change their business process altogether. It is the latter that causes the greatest resistance in MDM implementations, so we will focus on business process change management.

Here are five ways to help ease the transition as business processes transform because of MDM.

Treat users’ data as the asset it is. In implementing MDM, don’t forget the two most important parts of any data system: the data itself and the people who need and use it. Handle with care and treat the data with the respect it deserves. Communicate to the business user that you understand their data, the process that derived or created it, and preserve the integrity the data has. One way is to carefully craft a business data definition for key data elements that communicates tot he user that “you get it.”

Alleviate data pain. Whatever way business users currently manage data, they are likely to experience pain and frustration with it. Focus on ways to lessen that pain, such as adding automation, reducing duplicate data entry, and bringing together once separate pieces of information (and don’t create additional pain if possible—such as additional data entry or taking away automation.) If the new way is less painful, the change becomes more attractive and even welcome.

Focus on the future state. Talk to your business user about what THEY would like their business processes to look like—where they experience bottlenecks related to data. Keep in the forefront efficiencies that can be gained with MDM, and then deliver on those expectations. Be thorough in addressing their concerns about how business users and data stewards will use MDM and when, and how they can get what they need from it.

Bridge communication between groups. MDM is a great place to open up cross communication channels between different groups in the organization who use the same data. Bring cross-functional groups together to discuss how each use and need the master data and how they might collaborate better. Also, make workflow notifications and messages meaningful and informative. Replace the default text, “You have an approval waiting in MDM,” with who, what, when, where, and how.

Accompany the effort with data governance. Last, and certainly very important to the lasting success of MDM, standup data governance around your data program. If a data governance group already exists, get them involved in the MDM program development. Suggested activities include: creating shared, enterprise-wide data definitions; define business rules and data quality standards; negotiate discrepancies in how data is handled; and many more. The key is to show how governance integrates with existing and new business processes.

Change is hard—even when bringing about something good and beneficial. Managing the change is critical to see an MDM program bud and blossom. Change management sets healthy expectations, and good program management delivers. When most, if not all, involved get on board, and experience the benefits firsthand, it is a win for everyone.

Master Data Management is one of the platforms that speaker William McKnight will be talking about in his pre-conference workshop 14 May “Selecting from the Data Platforms to Create a Modern Data Architecture”.

William McKnight is a distinguished and successful Entrepreneur, Corporate Executive, Strategist, International Speaker, Trainer, Author, Blogger and Executive Mentor in the use of information. William takes corporate information and turns it into a bottom-line producing asset. His firm, McKnight Consulting Group, focuses on delivering business value and solving business problems utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in information management. His teams have won several best practice competitions for their implementations and have changed the trajectory of their clients within their industries. Many of his clients have gone public with their success stories. As a business-savvy, highly respected and relatable consultant with deep technical expertise, he has worked with and advised many of the world’s best-known organizations and has consulted in 14 countries. He is author of the books “Information Management: Strategies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Data“ and “Integrating Hadoop”. He is the author of hundreds of thought leadership pieces including over 30 white papers and is extensively quoted. William was a 12-year columnist at Information Management Magazine.William is a highly sought-after presenter who has spoken on four continents. He is noted for his fascinating, informative, dynamic and entertaining keynotes. William educates businesses and organizations on emerging technology, the vast uses of information and strategy insights. He has given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. William has keynoted several international industry conferences, road shows, virtual shows, and vendor conferences. Follow William on Twitter: @williammcknight

Copyright William McKnight, President, McKnight Consulting Group

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