Is it better to have a centralized or decentralized master data structure?

Should your master data be centralized or decentralized? Get an expert's take, plus find out how different MDM architecture styles affect your master data and MDM hub.

I just have a quick question. Which do you think is better — to have the master data (sales, plant, material, finance) centralized or decentralized? I am just thinking it is best that it is centralized to keep master data aligned to each other, but I'd love an expert's opinion.
A quick question, huh? I suppose you go to the Appalachian Trail for a "quick walk," and grab a "quick bite" at Le Cirque? But I'll give it a shot. The management of the data needs to be centralized, but where the data is persisted can be decentralized. I know that was quick, but like your question it's deceptively complex.

You see, as much as we like to focus on the platforms, data management — the tactics around defining and maintaining business rules, definitions and access to data — is the real hard part. Best-practice companies have learned that centralizing data management as an enterprise service is not only the most efficient way to support MDM, but a whole range of enterprise initiatives.

As for master data, it really does depend on whether you're using registry-style MDM to quickly match and link data across source systems, or a persistent approach that stores the data in a centralized hub. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. To understand which is best for your company — registry, persistent, or a hybrid of each — see my prior Q/A on MDM functional requirements .

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