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Master Data Management

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Master Data Management

Master Data Management is the process of establishing a single source of truth for your data.  A Master Data Management System can be as simple as an Excel process for loading data into a single line of business system, or as complicated as a Data Warehouse collating data from a dozen disparate source systems, validating them, and pushing that data back out to all the subscriber systems in your business.  What is important is that there is a single source of truth for your data, and that all the employees working with that data have confidence that it is well managed, up to date, and is the most correct data source available to them.Master Data Management Solutions, Tools & Strategy

Forming an Enterprise Master Data Management Strategy can be a lot of work.  What systems do you integrate into your MDM solution?  Which systems are data sources, and which are subscribers?  Who is the Data Steward, the person responsible for managing the facts stored in the MDM system?  How will the Data Steward validate data and what Master Data Management Tools will you use?  Entrance has developed several full featured Master Data Management systems, using the latest technology from the SQL Server Stack , including Microsoft’s Master Data Services, which provides both Web and Excel based front ends for managing the data.  Allow us to guide you through the implementation of your master data management solution, from analyzing your business processes to determine the correct systems of record for each data point, to building an easy to maintain automated data transfer service that both feeds the Master Data Management System and exports the data back out to your line of business systems and reporting  systems.

Choosing systems of record can be a more complicated process than it first appears.  The naïve approach is choose the system it is first entered in.  One of the purposes of an MDM System, however, is to ensure the correctness of the single source of truth, and many companies, while they have a single system the data is first entered into, actually maintain updates to the data in another system altogether.  Master Data Management Solutions that do not account for this are plagued with issues where the data is correct initially, but is not well maintained, causing the various business silos to distrust data flowing from the MDM Solution.  Ensuring that your MDM System is designed correctly is a vital step in getting your Master Data Management Implementation right.

Extract, Transform, and Load is the process of getting data out of the system(s) of record.  Many times, data will be stored in different data stores, and in different formats.  This data needs to be collated and converted into a standard form.  Business Applications are developed to the standards of their age, and business software ecosystems consist of a wide variety of product applications.  This means that data points will come in a wide variety of forms, and data validly entered into a system of record may not meet the formatting requirements of destination systems.  Your Master Data Management Strategy needs to account for these discrepancies and handle them in an appropriate manner.

MDM Solutions also need to have a solid system in place for managing changing data.  The Master Data Management Process needs to include a mechanism for Data Stewards to review the data before releasing the data as an established version.  MDM tools exist for reviewing this data, most notably Master Data Services, which allows users to review Master Data in either Excel or a Web App before releasing that data as a labeled version.  This release cycle allows users to feel confident they are working with the latest data, and that the data was reviewed for accuracy.

Another feature of MDM tools is their ability to embed validation rules into the Master Data Management Solution.  These rules are traditionally related to data quality, but Entrance has also deployed MDM Solutions that embed business process rules such as deriving process workflow states.  Doing this as part of your MDM Solution allows the system or data steward to set calculated derived data such as client or asset lifecycle status based on data from a multitude of different systems.  This status is then distributed as part of the master data and is managed using the same MDM tools as the rest of your Master Data.  In addition to raising alerts, MDS enables users to start Workflows in SharePoint .

For data points without an obvious system of entry, full featured Master Data Management Tools provide an extra system for managing this data.  Using MDS’ Excel front end, for example, allows users to bulk upload new data, I.e. new customer contact lists, into their workflows without needing to write or manage dedicated loaders.  Using the system in this way can reduce the IT footprint of data migration, as a single in place process allows data to be loaded into one place, one time.

Enterprise Master Data Management is an underutilized tool in the modern workplace.  Various business silos have their own line of business systems maintained to their own requirements.  Communication between silos is often ad-hoc, with little process and no accountability for data accuracy.  Developing a solid Master Data Management Strategy is a key value add for getting the full value of your various data systems, keeping your teams communicating and up to date, and ensuring trust in your companies data.

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