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My MDM project failed...why?

Written by Alec Lloyd

I have been involved in two big MDM implementations in the past 5 years. First one semi successful, second one extremely successful.

I tried to figure out what made the second project so successful, and realised that there were some things we just got right second time around.

If we ask the following questions, it can put you on the right track to a successful solution.

This is by no means a definitive list, and it is open for debate…

What are we doing with our MDM solution?

Too often, MDM is a buzzword heard by someone sitting on the executive floor. They see some stats, they are shown some graphs/charts, and that sparks their interest.

All of sudden “This organisation MUST have MDM”. Decisions get made, budgets approved, and suddenly MDM must be implemented. There is often no clear business requirement and thought put into the need for MDM.

Things to take in to consideration when deciding to make MDM a priority are the following

  • MDM isn’t just a technology.

  • MDM is a complete strategy.

  • MDM needs to be driven by IT and Business together.

  • Get the right people in the organisation to talk to each other and you are heading in the right direction.

Why does MDM become so complex?

MDM is seldom a small single piece of work that can be implemented, put into production and never worked on again. It is a living thing that evolves as the business grows and as the MDM solution matures.

The complexity of MDM within an organisation is easy to overlook. If your data truly is the master, you need to take into consideration the following:

  • Multiple Data Sources

  • Multiple Destination Points

  • Multiple Applications

    Without uniform architectural principles and frameworks, the complexity increases and the development team will often reinvent the wheel, resulting in lengthy delays and expensive implementation costs. 

Can’t we just do it all now?

It’s easy to go all in and say let’s do MDM for the entire organization. This will most likely lead to a long term project, with huge effort required at great cost to the organization.

Due to the cost of most MDM projects, there is often C-level pressure to deliver something fast and useful.

A well thought out MDM solution is sacrificed by rushing the thought process and necessary analysis.

MDM is generally better suited to be a phased approach.

Have we prioritized?

As each business domain puts forward their long wish-list of things they would like in MDM, it’s easy for the other areas to lose enthusiasm. This is where it becomes critical for the PMO to manage expectations, and ensure that the scope of all aspects of the project are prioritised and implemented. A well-defined and prioritised project plan will ensure a successful implementation.

Are our business processes documented?

Formal documentation for the business processes is often lacking. Business often thinks its IT’s responsibility to generate the documentation. When IT goes ahead and documents it, it is often too technical, as well as being a representation of how IT thinks the business should work, and not what the actual business process is.

Business needs to take ownership of their processes, and ensure that they are as streamlined and concise as possible within the scope of the MDM solution at hand.  

There is no one perfect solution!

Personally, I find this to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks.

Every customer is unique, and it’s almost impossible to satisfy all their needs and requirements with an out of the box solution from any of the main vendors.

To quote Marc S and Paul G, “You need to go on a journey with your client.”

Find out what they need, what you can offer, where you need to customise, and build them the best solution you can.


If you are interested in this topic and would like to meet with someone to assess your requirements, email us on info@zettasolutions.com.  It could be the first step in resolving all your data issues.