Courtesy of David Waddington of Information Management
Master data management has moved from being
the new kid on the block to now be recognized as a mature and
accepted technology widely regarded as essential for delivering
reliable business data. It has often been said that data governance
is key to successful master data management, but is it? There is
scant information available on the approach being adopted by
organizations that have implemented both data governance and MDM.
In late 2011, The Information Difference initiated a survey,
sponsored by Pitney Bowes Software, aimed at better understanding
the views of businesses regarding their current data governance and
MDM initiatives. In particular we wanted to get feedback from
respondents who have both data governance activities and MDM
projects, to see to what extent the two really are linked.
Approximately 110 respondents from across the world completed
the survey, with 71 percent from North America (including Canada),
23 percent from Europe and the remainder (6 percent) from the rest
of the world. Almost two-thirds (66 percent) of the respondents
were from larger organizations with annual revenues greater than
U.S. $1 billion.
The average age of MDM programs was reported as just less than
five years and that of data governance programs around four years.
Some 64 percent of the organizations surveyed reported that they
currently have both live data governance and MDM programs. So it
appears that data governance and MDM programs were started around
the same time and can now be considered as relatively mature.
Clearly organizations have understood the message that the two
initiatives are closely linked.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents set up their data governance
and MDM programs together (see figure 1 at left),
which in our experience is good practice. Interestingly, 27 percent
implemented data governance only after they had started their MDM
program. We suggest that this may well have been in response to
issues (such as inconsistent data definitions and business rules)
encountered when trying to roll out their MDM program. Perhaps
surprisingly, only 23 percent did data governance first, which from
experience is the best approach of all.
Encouragingly, for the majority (63 percent) of data governance
programs, the scope and context includes MDM, but is in many cases
much broader. So, in most cases data governance and MDM are closely
One-quarter (25 percent) of the organizations surveyed set up
their data governance program directly to support MDM, whereas 19
percent told us that the key driver was to support business
However, only about half the respondents considered their data
governance programs to have been at least moderately successful,
and only 10 percent told us that the data governance program was
very successful. Fifty-four percent of MDM programs were
reported to be at least moderately successful, with 19 percent
recording that their MDM program was unsuccessful.
Despite the relatively modest success rates, a resounding 69
percent felt that the program initiatives were mutually supportive.
One respondent noted, "I do believe you can't have a successful MDM
program without data governance."
Interestingly, those data governance programs which were driven
by IT alone reported 50 percent "fairly successful" or above. In
the case of those that were either driven by the business alone or
jointly, 62 percent were "fairly successful" or better. This
suggests that data governance initiatives are more likely to
succeed if they are led either by the business alone or jointly
Improved business intelligence reporting was afforded top
ranking as the key benefit from these programs. Clearly this
is an area that is still very much on the radar of organizations.
The results from this survey lend support to the view that
implementing data governance alongside (or prior to) MDM programs
is indeed important to delivering a successful MDM program.