MDM and SCM: Inside and outside the corporate walls

QuadrantIn my journey through the Master Data Management (MDM) landscape, I am currently working from a Supply Chain Management (SCM) perspective. SCM is very exciting as it connects the buy-side and the sell-side of a company. In that connection we will be able to understand some basic features of multi-domain MDM as touched in a recent post about the MDM ancestors called Customer Data Integration (CDI) and Product Information Management (PIM). The post is called CDI, PIM, MDM and Beyond.

MDM and SCM 1.0: Inside the corporate walls

Traditional Supply Chain Management deals with what goes on from when a product is received from a supplier, or vendor if you like, to it ends up at the customer.

In the distribution and retail world, the product physically usually stays the same, but from a data management perspective we struggle with having buying views and selling views on the data.

In the manufacturing world, we sees the products we are going to sell transforming from raw materials over semi-finished products to finished goods. One challenge here is when companies grow through acquisitions, then a given real world product might be seen as a raw material in one plant but a finished good in another plant.

Regardless of the position of our company in the ecosystem, we also have to deal with the buy side of products as machinery, spare parts, supplies and other goods, which stays in the company.

MDM and SCM 2.0: Outside the corporate walls

SCM 2.0 is often used to describe handling the extended supply chain that is a reality for many businesses today due to business process outsourcing and other ways of collaboration within ecosystems of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, end users and service providers.

From a master data management perspective the ways of handling supplier/vendor master data and customer master data here melts into handling business-partner master data or simply party master data.

For product master data there are huge opportunities in sharing most of these master data within the ecosystems. Usually you will do that in the cloud.

In such environments, we have to rethink our approach to data / information governance. This challenge was, with set out in cloud computing, examined by Andrew White of Gartner (the analyst firm) in a blog post called “Thoughts on The Gathering Storm: Information Governance in the Cloud”.

Three Stages of MDM Maturity

If you haven’t yet implemented a Master Data Management (MDM) solution you typically holds master data in dedicated solutions for Supply Chain Management (SCM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relation Management (CRM) and heaps of other solutions aimed at taking care of some part of your business depending on your particular industry.

MDM Stage 1
Multiple sources of truth

In this first stage some master data flows into these solutions from business partners in different ways, flows around between the solutions inside your IT landscape and flows out to business partners directly from the various solutions.

The big pain in this stage is that a given real world entity may be described very different when coming in, when used inside your IT landscape and when presented by you to the outside. Additionally it is hard to measure and improve data quality and there may be several different business processes doing the same thing in an alternative way.

The answer today is to implement a Master Data Management (MDM) solution. When doing that you in some degree may rearrange the way master data flows into your IT landscape, you move the emphasis on master data management from the SCM, ERP, CRM and other solutions to the MDM platform and orchestrate the internal flows differently and you are most often able to present a given real world entity in a consistent way to the outside.

MDM Stage 2
Striving for a single source of truth

In this second stage you have cured the pain of inconsistent presentation of a given real world entity and as a result of that you are in a much better position to measure and control data quality. But typically you haven’t gained much in operational efficiency.

You need to enter a third stage. MDM 3.0 so to speak. In this stage you extend your MDM solution to your business partners and take much more advantage of third party data providers.

MDM Stage 3
Single place of trust

The master data kept by any organization is in a large degree a description of real world entities that also is digitalized by business partners and third party data providers. Therefore there are huge opportunities for reengineering your business processes for master data collection and interactive sharing of master data with mutual benefits for you and your business partners. These opportunities are touched in the post MDM 3.0 Musings.

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Your Place or My Place?

We, and that’s including myself, often talk about multi-domain master data management as a marriage between party master data management (also called Customer Data Integration abbreviated as CDI) and Product Master Data Management (also called Product Information Management abbreviated as PIM).

The third most common master data domain is locations (or places). I like the term place, because then we have a P trinity: Parties, Products and Places. However there may be a fourth P involved, as I read a post today by Steven Jones of Capgemini telling that multi-domain MDM is a Pointless question.

The Premise of the Pointlessness is that Party and Product is an IT Perspective. The rest of the business sees the world from mainly either a customer centric perspective or a supply centric perspective.

I agree about that these perspectives exists too and actually made a blog post recently on sell side vs buy side master data quality.

I don’t agree about that this is an (pointless) IT versus business question, obviously also because I have a hard time recognizing the great divide between IT and business. From my perspective is IT a part of the business just like sales, marketing and purchase is it too. And from a product vendor perspective in the MDM realm you actually address the conjunction of business and technological needs a bit opposite to either being a database manager vendor aimed mostly at the IT part of business or a CRM or SCM vendor aimed mostly at the sales or purchase part of business.

Multi-domain MDM isn’t in my perspective a pointless place, but a meeting place between IT and all the other places in business and the core business entities being parties, products and places.

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