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Five steps to implementing an MDM program

Instituting a master data management program involves discovery, analysis, construction, implementation and sustainment processes, according to MDM expert Anne Marie Smith.

What are the initial steps program managers should take when establishing and implementing an MDM program?

Any master data management (MDM) program should begin with an assessment of the organization's enterprise data management situation. This is necessary for understanding any ongoing efforts to manage master data, as well as the existing forms of data governance, metadata management, data architecture, data quality management, data integration practices, etc.

From this assessment, the organization can develop an approach for enterprise data management that will allow for improvements where necessary in each area, and will permit it to develop an appropriate enterprise master data management framework, including the evaluation and selection of MDM technology and the development of strategic goals and an MDM architecture.

Once the assessment has been completed, these are the basic steps of implementing an MDM program:

  1. Discovery. Documenting and modeling essential business data and processes for utilizing common data, identifying all data sources and defining metadata. In this step, start with the most important subject area and define it. Additionally, in this step an IT architect should design the MDM architecture based on the organization's planned approach and goals for managing master data and in conjunction with the existing enterprise architecture.
  2. Analysis. Identifying authoritative data sources for the chosen subject area, evaluating data flow and transformation rules, refining the  metadata definitions and defining data quality requirements for master data. In this step, it's essential to have the participation of representatives from an established data governance program. This is the most challenging step, since it is iterative and requires participation from a variety of roles.
  3. Construction. Building the MDM database, according to the architecture you've created.
  4. Implementation. Populating the database with the first subject area's master data and associated metadata; defining and implementing access rights; designing change management processes; and assessing data quality levels for MDM.
  5. Sustainment. Implementing change management internally for the first iteration, while planning and deploying the next one -- and then continuing to move forward in similar stages until the MDM program is fully rolled out.

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