In this two part series weblog, I have put together 10 questions that can help customers understand the importance of MDM within their enterprise. In Master Data Management – Why Now? Part I, I focused on business aspect of master data management while in this part my focus is on IT aspect of MDM. I hope you find it useful. Please provide your comments and feedback. Also, let me know if there are important questions that need to be answered during MDM implementation.
What have IT done to maintain accuracy and reliability of master data?
There is no way in the world that IT has not done anything and left it to business users in heterogeneous IT environment. If you are big SAP shop then you are probably using ALE integration or XI to transfer master data across all instances. If your landscape is mix then you may either have custom solutions or EAI tools doing work for you. But, give a closer look at the question here and then try to find out what IT has done so far to ensure reliability and accuracy of master data. Answer most likely is going to be none just because there were not any sophisticated tools available until now to solve this problem.
How does SAP NetWeaver MDM fit into your new IT Architecture?
Yes, New Architecture is important here. If you and your IT are talking old way of point to point integrations, custom interfaces and not thinking of new ways of solving IT problems then stop. I think even before you start topic of MDM, you may want to focus on new IT architecture, which is more flexible and agile to adapt to new business requirements. Todays Services Oriented Architecture just talks about these benefits and one should think about introducing MDM in this new architecture. Master data is the foundation of business and master data management is the core of new architecture as well.
Where should I start?
Ok, I got all my pieces right, now what? Where should I start, what should I do first, how does my roadmap for MDM look like? If you not only have answers to all the questions above but have started working on implementing them, then you are on right track. You always want to start with defining master data management strategy for your enterprise and then start implementing it. Remember, SAP NetWeaver MDM is an important piece of your puzzle but not the bigger one. You need to have answers to all the questions above to start implementing MDM tool to achieve results you expect.
Many customers I talked to have either major ERP project or technology enhancement projects like RFID going on. One does not want to carry forward their problems around master data going forward. It is important to think about bigger picture from your IT roadmap perspective but having MDM as an important piece of it is critical for achieving better results. You may need to find out pros/cons for MDM along with cost and benefits of it. But dont just calculate the cost of implementing MDM but find out cost of not having MDM and you will know the answer for why NOW.