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16/01/20 -

5 steps for successful Master Data Management (MDM)

Data can be a goldmine for companies. But only if they can safeguard the quality of the business information. Or better yet, if they’ve thought about how to manage master data. Do you want to benefit from the opportunities that Master Data Management has to offer, but don’t know where or how to start? We present 5 important steps to get you started.

1. Recognize data as a key business asset

Companies that are ahead of the curve when it comes to Master Data Management, (also called MDM) are reaping the benefits because they are more efficient and make smarter decisions. Just think about the last time you had to make an end of year report. It may have caused you a lot of stress if you didn’t have access to the right information, or if the data differed from other departments. You can’t rely on inaccurate data, or make the right decisions for that matter. There must be another way.

Research has shown that if you ask managers about the importance of getting involved in Big Data,  at least 79% of them say that they may lose their competitive edge or even face extinction without it.

To be truly effective at Master Data Management, you need to recognize the value of data as a key business asset. Patience and vision are of the essence. Many plans may fail because they lack cross-departmental support. Make sure you have a long-term strategy that incorporates safeguarding the quality of your master data and addresses topics such as data governance and data policies.

According to a study by McKinsey, more than 50% of the respondents say that Big Data has a significant impact on their operations, sales en marketing results.

2. Start with a clean data set

At this very moment, you may be working with existing data in your system, like customer records in your CRM. But do you know if this data is up-to-date? A very painful way to discover the poor quality of your data is if you would try to call a customer and find out their telephone number no longer exists. This would be a typical example of inaccurate data. If your data is no longer up-to-date, it means the quality of your data is low. And as time passes, this problem will grow as more business information becomes outdated or incomplete. Because of this, you won’t be able to offer services to your customers and will even lose revenue in the long run. Even worse is that poor data will result in more costs.

Garbage in, garbage out

Starting with a clean slate, however, is easier said than done. Manually checking every single contact in your CRM would take a lifetime and calling your customer to fact check might even raise some eyebrows. It might be even harder to determine which data fields are still useful or which you might be needing in the future. Additionally, the rule of ‘garbage in, is garbage out’ applies here.* The data that is fed into your system, must be complete and accurate.

*’Garbage in, garbage out’ is an expression from computer science to point out to people that software and systems can only provide meaningful information if they are fed with correct information. However intelligent a computer system may be, if it is fed with incorrect data, it will only produce a nonsensical result.

That’s why you should first try to determine which sets of data you want to collect and how to approach it. Define which entities you want to collect master data from, such as people, organizations, products, projects, and services. Postpone your decisions on which type of software to invest in before you know what processes and structures should be in place to manage all of this data. If you want to know more about how to set up a data-driven business, read more on our information page about Master Data Management.

Unique identifier as a reference point

To connect all data to your systems, you need a unique key. Our partner Altares Dun & Bradstreet uses the global D-U-N-S-number, an identifier that helps recognise different entitites. For some organizations such as the UN, ISO and the European Commission, this DUNS-number is even a legal requirement. With this number, it becomes much easier to collect, clean and enrich sets of information and export data.

3. Validate and standardize data-entry

The longer your business has been around, the bigger the chance it is suffering from incomplete or incorrect data. The financial department may often receive incorrect invoices, after which someone has to call the company, ask for a modification and notify other coworkers to postpone or change procedures. This causes a lot of fuss and time is lost. Manual errors are a fact of life, but as a business you should be able to rely on the validity of your data. This is impossible if the quality is lacking.

This brings us to the third step, in which you design your software architecture so that you can seamlessly connect your systems and reduce the chances of human error.

Set the rules for data-entry

The good news is that data-entry and validation can be completely standardized. How? By creating a set of rules in your web application, such as your CRM, that defines which data will or won’t be accepted upon entry. This application should automatically recognize which data is already existent and compare it to newly imported information so that you can prevent double accounts.

Opt for a software solution that can connect (external) databases or sources and compare them with your existing records. For instance, if you import a Spanish address list into an English system, the web application should be able to ‘map’ and recognize this incoming data and match it to other existing fields. Thus, it becomes quite simple for your system to recognise that the Spanish ‘nombre de la calle’ is the same as the English field ‘street name’.

At Olbico, we offer very easy way to enter complete, accurate and enriched accounts into your CRM, based on one identifier. Everyone can use it without making a single error. Even entering a new record becomea 95% faster than usual. The Duplication check checks if the entry already exists in CRM, even when it’s been entered through a web form. Incomplete data is a thing of the past. Read more aboout Data Entry with Olbico Master Data Platform.

This study shows that on average, businesses lose 30% revenue due to poor data quality. The visual below (source: Econsultancy) illustrates the main reasons to improve on data quality.

4. Connect internal and external sources

Many sales reps and marketers jump at the opportunity to enrich their data. After all, knowledge is power: more effective campaigns can be utilized if you know more about your customer.

Master Data Management is a great opportunity not only to link data sources but also to enrich your data at the same time. For example with new information fields about your customers, such as credit risk information. This is how you can build a total solution: you import clean data that immediately enrich your current data. That is a win-win situation.

With the right software solution, you ensure that all your data can be linked and enriched as part of a future-proof data plan. Whether you work in marketing, sales, finance, compliance: the information is brought in line with each other if you opt for a solution that can connect your CRM or ERP to new sources. With a 360-degree customer view, you can make better predictions about the future.

Olbico Master Data Platform is a data connector that connects sources to your CRM. By means of external API’s that we can link to, you have access to international sources such as the global Altares Dun & Bradstreet network, or the local chamber of commerce. Every enriched record is now at your fingertips.

5. Monitor and guard the quality 24/7

Now that you have completed the 4 previous steps for setting up your Master Data Management, you’ve come a long way. But don’t forget to keep your eyes on the horizon. Just like your company, everything around you will continue to change. Every day there may be takeovers, bankruptcies, staff changes, you name it. So how do you ensure that your data remains up to date? And that the quality is monitored? It is a waste of all your time and money if you have no processes in place to make sure your data is enabling better business.

That’s why the fifth step is to set up a data governance policy. This basically means that you think of some way to consistently ensure the quality of your data. Without such a plan, your Master Data Management may eat resources but won’t lead to more profit, which is the ultimate goal.

Simplify this process by investing in monitoring-software. This software can be the watchdog of your data and makes sure your data is safeguarded and automatically updated in all your systems. Olbico Master Data Platform watches over the data in your CRM with a Monitoring functionality 24 hours per day.  The latest updates on the account, customer or contact are automatically refreshed in CRM.

Do you want more advice on how to set up your Master Data Management strategy? Schedyke a meeting with our MDM-expert Kunal Doerbali. Get in touch with us here.

👉  Get more insights from an expert with our ‘Interview with a Master Data Specialist’. Read the blog here.

Successful Master Data Management takes time. This illustration shows the successrate of Big Data Projects.


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