The Simplicity or Complexity of Master Data

Just the other day I came across an article that mentioned the 10th birthday of master data management. This birthday concerns only the name: master data management and the theories and concepts that are behind this name. master data is old, very old. In medieval times little shops already captured data about their customers. However those 10 years give something to think about. In de last couple of years the industry around grew up and has already the value of an 1 billion plus industry. This shows awareness at companies about the value. But always with the question is master data complex?

If we look at the basics of master data let kick off with Gartner:

Masterdata is data from the core of your company and business processes related to this core. Relationships between this data is business processes are key values. Master data management is a business orientated discipline to maintain and manage master data

By John Radcliffe (former VP Research at Gartner)

What is master data?

Every company owns master data. This can be clients, vendors or materials but also employees or other items can be seen as master data. Every company has to decide which component is master data for them. In some industries or sectors are some assets more specific and determined upfront. Here some examples:

HEALTH: patients, vendors, claims, insurance companies, locations

MANUFACTURING: clients, products, suppliers, materials, parts, parts,

EDUCATION: students, teachers, locations, classrooms, materials, courses

This is just a brief start but there is so much more. What is master data? The diversity is enormous because we only mentioned a few main components here. Be careful about the complexity and the number of second or third degree components. The picture you seen beneath gives some examples

Of course not every company can relate to the items shown in the picture because you see mainly wholesale and manufacturing items. However the idea of complexity is clear stated. It can be complex if you want it to. The most important issue is to get and keep the data consistent. Manage the data and data flows. It doesn’t matter how many different sources there are that provide you with data. Keep the data consistent and create a “golden record” or the well-known term of “single source of truth. At last but not least, do not forget to guard the data flows with data governance!

Complex or simple?

When you pursue this way of thinking you will be able to do what matters most. Act upon the needs of your customers and serve them with the care they deserve. Your data-driven decisions give the company the ability to adapt to changes now and in the future.

Is master data management complex or simple? You can decide for yourself. However awareness is a good start, if you haven’t started yet. In my opinion should it be possible to make the move from complex to simple even within your company!