Master data management is a discipline that provides a centralized approach to managing an organization’s most essential data. It helps managers get a handle on their disparate data sources, cleanse and standardize their data, and govern it throughout its lifecycle.  

In other words, master data management is the key to unlocking the true value of your data.  

While the specific framework you use will depend on your organization’s size, budget, and data complexity, these three essential master data management principles should always form the core of your approach.  

1. Data Quality  

The success of any master data management initiative depends on the quality of the data itself. Before you can trust your master data as a foundation for major business decisions, you’ll first have to ensure that it is accurate, complete, and consistent.  

There are a number of ways to approach data quality, but in general, a good place to start is with an audit of your existing data.  

More than likely, you will find that your data is not as clean as you would like it to be. Don’t despair – this is normal! The important thing is to identify the areas where your data needs improvement and put together a plan to address them.  

Your plan should include both short-term and long-term strategies. In the short term, you will want to focus on cleansing, which involves removing inaccuracies and inconsistencies; and enrichment, which refers to adding more context and depth to your data where helpful.  

In the long term, you’ll need to put processes in place to ensure that your data remains clean and up to date. This should include establishing standards and governance around how data is collected and entered into your systems, as well as setting up regular quality checks and audits.  

colleagues in a meeting room

2. Governance  

Master data management is not a one-time project with a clear beginning and end. It is an ongoing process that requires a strong vision, leadership and governance to be successful.  

Your organization must define roles and responsibilities for those in charge of managing your master data, establish processes for maintaining the quality of your data, and create policies to govern how your master data is accessed and used.  

A best practice is to create a governing body, such as a center of excellence, that is responsible for overseeing your master data management initiative. This group should be made up of representatives from each business unit that uses your master data.   

The governing body should meet regularly to review the status of your master data and make decisions about changes or improvements that need to be made.  

However, in order to be sustainable, your system for master data governance needs to reflect the existing culture and structure of your organization, not be imposed from the top down.  

For example, if your organization is decentralized, you may want to consider giving each business unit some degree of autonomy over their data. The key is to strike a balance between efficiency and workability that makes sense for your company.  

3. Flexibility  

As your organization grows and changes, your master data management framework will have to keep pace and adapt to your evolving business needs. This applies not only to your data governance generally, but also to any software you’re using to manage and integrate your master data.  

Make sure you choose software that gives you the agility to make changes to your processes quickly and easily, without compromising on quality.  

First of all, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of your needs and requirements. What are your specific pain points? What processes and master data types do you need to support?  

For example, if you have multiple business units with differing requirements, you’ll need a solution that can support multiple workflows and user groups. Or, if you’re in a heavily regulated industry, you’ll need to ensure that your platform can accommodate complex data compliance rules.  

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Once you’ve honed in on software that suits your needs, make sure it has the ability to scale. As your business grows, you’ll need a system that can accommodate more users, more data, and more complexity. A scalable solution will also allow you to add new features and functionality over time.  

Finally, you’ll need to ensure that your software solution is open and extensible. This means that it should be able to integrate with a wide range of business applications and systems, such as your CRM and ERP.  

Look for a software partner that understands your evolving business needs and can offer a flexible, scalable, and extensible master data management solution. With the right framework in place, you’ll be able to adapt quickly to change and keep your organization moving forward.  

In Summary

Implementing master data management principles takes time and careful consideration. Depending on the scale of your data and your needs, it may even mean hiring additional staff, investing in new technology, or outsourcing some of your data management tasks.  

However, the benefits of having high-quality, readily accessible data to drive your business are well worth the effort.  

With accurate and up-to-date information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to make better decisions, improve operational efficiency, and enable healthy growth.  

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Interested in improving the quality of your data, but don’t have the time or resources to create a master data management program from the ground-up?  

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RecordLinker is here to help. Our data integration and management platform can quickly connect your disparate data sources, identify and deduplicate records, and keep your data clean and up-to-date.