A Hero’s Journey

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Implementing successful MDM is all about story telling. The project leader is tasked with taking the dry subject of data and transforming it into something relatable, exciting and understandable. It’s an epic undertaking, and their path is often lined with trials, tribulations and conflict. It is, essentially, the classic Hero’s Journey – from taking up the challenge to the final showdown.

Photo of Stuart Squires

Stuart Squires, Data & Information Leader, Comma Group
Stuart spoke at the IRM UK Master Data Management Summit & Data Governance Conference Europe 2019 on the subject DQaaS: Data Quality as a Story. The next MDM Summit and Data Governance Conference Europe will take place 2-5 November 2020, London

This article was previously published here.

MDM: A Hero’s Journey

Ordinary world

This is where the story begins, the point where our hero is happily working away, oblivious to dark forces at work: but they are out there. In this instance, the dark force is data – or more accurately, what happens when data isn’t cared for in the way it should be and causes everything to go pear shaped…

Call to Adventure

The moment that the hero’s cosy normality is threatened. Whether they ordered a truckload of industrial printers or wasted £3 million ordering the wrong sort of chicken, something opens the hero’s eyes to a significant problem, a threat that must be stopped.

In the MDM story, it isn’t always a catastrophe that launches this call to action – sometimes it’s a positive move on our hero’s part, an active decision to make a difference – but either way it prompts a long, hard look at the business’ master data management.

As a result, our brave hero sets off on their MDM journey – but they can’t do it alone.

Meeting the Mentor

Whether it’s Mr Miyagi or Gandalf, every hero needs a mentor: someone with experience, who can see the bigger picture and guide them on their quest. In MDM, this is increasingly the role of delivery partners like Comma, who can help businesses to implement and use their software effectively.

Tests, allies, enemies

It wouldn’t be an adventure without an element of peril. Successful MDM needs business transformation, and this means overcoming tests, recruiting allies, and defeating – or, converting – your enemies.

Not everyone will be ready to jump on board with the project from day one. A good hero tells a compelling story that rallies others to the MDM cause and maintains the project’s vision no matter what trials and tribulations occur.

Resolving inner conflict

As the hero approaches their final challenge, they usually take a moment to reflect and resolve some kind of inner conflict. What has their journey taught them? How can it help them with the final task ahead?

In MDM, it’s often data governance related. Implementing an MDM solution can expose weak spots in the data process – whether it’s the data that’s being input, or the way that data is being used.

Whatever it is, this is the time to confront it head on and make a change ready for the final challenge…

The Final Battle (Implementation)

The moment of truth. The final showdown. After months of preparation, it’s finally time to put your plan into action.

In your average hero story, this would be an epic battle against the forces of evil. The final challenge here is a little less exciting – and a lot less immediate. This last phase of the MDM journey is a process of ironing out the kinks in the ‘live’ solution and making sure that everything is working as it should. This process is ongoing: successful MDM should be a constant process of tweaking and adapting as needs change.

Reward and Return

With their quest completed, the hero heads back to their hobbit hole and ordinary life resumes…or does it? After their journey, the hero is inevitably changed by their experience, and the same is true in our MDM story. Once digital transformation has taken place, businesses tend to have a different attitude to their data and digital processes, one that encourages critical thinking and evaluation long after the solution has been implemented.

Setting off on your own MDM journey? Find out how Comma’s unique approach to MDM can help. Call us on +44 1926 911250.

Stuart Squires, known for years by the DVLA as Staurt Squires due to a typo at the age of 17, has been campaigning for good data quality ever since. He has seen it rise from the deepest domains of geekery to, well, deeper domains of geekery but with cool people talking about it. He currently pretends to be cool by talking about it.

Copyright Stuart Squires, Data & Information Leader, Comma Group

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