Global MDM versus Local BPM

The linkage between Master Data Management (MDM) and Business Process Management (BPM) was intensively discussed at a workshop on a MDM conference organized by Marcus Evans in Barcelona, Spain today. More than 30 master data professionals from a range of large mainly European originated companies attended the workshop.

There was a broad agreement about that the intersection between MDM and BPM is growing – and should be doing so.

Google EarthOne of the challenges identified is that MDM tends to be global within the enterprise while BPM tends to be local.

The global versus local theme has frequently been mentioned as a challenge over the decade MDM has existed as a discipline. The core MDM global versus local challenges spans over common definitions, common value tables and common data models across different geographies. Having a mix of common business rules and business rules that have to be local adds to the difficulties. When applying the full impact of business process management with the variety of formal and informal organizational structures, decision rules and working culture there are certainly both wins and obstacles in linking MDM and BPM.

I think the commonly used phrase about thinking globally and acting locally makes sense in the intersection between MDM and BPM. Thinking big and starting small helps too.

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5 thoughts on “Global MDM versus Local BPM

  1. John O'Gorman 22nd April 2015 / 15:42

    “Thinking big and starting small helps too.”

    So does a universal classification framework and a system for ranking the ‘reach’ of the data values – from global to idiolectic.*

    * Def: My dialect. Just learned that one this week; from “The Information” by James Gleick.

  2. Mark Humphries 22nd April 2015 / 17:33

    The other phrases that spring to mind are “built to last”, i.e. MDM versus “built to change”, i.e. BPM. That’s one of the nice things about BPM, it allows business processes to be flexible and responsive while using stable services like MDM. Understanding the difference is key.

    • John O'Gorman 22nd April 2015 / 17:45

      Fit, Form, Function and Flexibility… All for one and one for all!

  3. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 22nd April 2015 / 19:12

    Thanks John and Mark for commenting. Indeed the need for continuous improvement and business agility through BPM and the need for MDM to be robust but yet capable of enabling the smaller bits of change through BPM and MDM intersection was also a hot topic on the workshop.

  4. Andrew Meyer 22nd April 2015 / 23:25


    I agree with your sentiment entirely. We have implemented a Product and Customer MDM system and we are now emerging from the silo of MDM to start thinking about how MDMs fit in the overall business strategy. By the time one has set up a data governance council and enforced processes, it’s difficult to get people to change and see the MDMs as a piece in a larger, corporate business process. You started writing about it right at the time I started seeing it, so I’ve appreciated your perspective and learned a lot from you.

    Thank you,


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