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Master Data Management and the Crash diet

So finally, after months of work the Master Data project that your organisations been working on is about to go live

- There's lots of excitement, this project was sponsored by the executive team, we're really going to get it right this time

- Policies are written, processes were reviewed, Master Data sets were identified, and Master data was cleansed.

- Even recruited some new staff who have some experience in Managing Master data.

No more Master Data issues hurrah!!

Only it didn't work, slowly but surely the quality and consistency of the Master data dwindled "the Master data is rubbish we can't trust it!" echoed around the building again.

Why I hear you ask? They seemed to do everything right?

Lets look at some of the possible issues:

> "They had hundreds of Processes / Policies and procedures defined so how could it have failed, can their people not read?" - so yes they spent months reviewing the 'as is' defining the 'to be', and documenting it, a truly thorough job. They even put the documents up on the intranet. Unfortunately, what they didn't do was to communicate the new processes & procedures, to bring the rest of the business along on the journey. They didn't assign owners for the policies or procedures. So instead of an exciting new world they ended up with a confused mix match of old and new. When things didn't quite work there was no one to take ownership of making adjustments so eventually everyone reverted back to what they'd known in the past.

> "They had Master Data standards their new 'experienced' staff can't have been that great then?"- again they did a great job of identifying critical fields, documenting the acceptable parameters and the change impacts. However, there was little if any consideration given as to how they would keep this up to date, and business relevant, they didn't have in mind any up and coming business change initiatives. The Marketing team undertook a category wide re categorisation of product streams only 6 weeks after go live, then following excellent business performance a new business was acquired 3 months in. Consequently, the standards were out of date almost straight away.

>"They established some KPI's though so they would have seen these issues no?" Well no not really they fell into the trap of measuring the quality & speed of creating and changing the Master Data, so 'X' number of records created within the SLA, 'X' number of requests received missing data elements, but no KPI's were defined that actually illustrated any real value to the business so the actual quality of the Master Data itself, and the supporting business processes weren't being measured.

> "However, the Exec team were on board though, so they would have identified whether standards were being followed and people were being held accountable, set an example and lead the way?" Well to be fair no one had really explained or agreed with them what their role might be in the Master Data capability moving forward. None of the terms of reference, for any meetings had been updated, no expectation had been set that they would have a role to play on an ongoing basis. The Master Data Management strategy was developed in isolation by one or two individuals who showed a bit of interest in the subject, so it was impossible to explain how the strategy supported the goals of the organisation, people quickly lost interest as they couldn't see the value.

> "They recruited some new experienced staff though surely they made a difference?" Well yes and no. They brought in a wealth of knowledge and were detailed and diligent in their approach and undoubtedly prevented the situation becoming much worse. However, these were junior administrative staff, they appeared out of nowhere, they had little kudos within the organisation. There were no Master Data Stewards, no champions, no SME’s, and no owners to help support them and bang the Master Data drum. They had no authority and were not empowered so ultimately had to do what they were told by more senior people in the organisation. Some became disheartened and left. The remainder continued to do their best but weren't as effective as they could or should have been.

"Oh, OK what a nightmare, so we just need another project to clean up that dirty Master data then, don't we?"

So this is a 'canned' version of events but the point of this blog is that Master Data Management or Governance is NOT a one of piece if work. We are all much more aware that a crash diet has limited long term benefits, you are likely to be more successful if you make adjustments to your overall lifestyle. Master Data Management / Governance is the same its a long term lifestyle choice. Everyone in the organisation needs to understand what that means, what role they play, its about ownership, accountability and communication.