Master Data Management: definition and application tips

Master Data Management (MDM) has changed the way data is processed and analyzed. Find out in this article what this method is and how to apply it to your company.

According to a report published by Gartner, master data management is expected to stabilize and reach a consistent level of use for higher education institutions within two to five years. If your small business has not yet adopted this technology-driven initiative, you should look into it.

What is Master Data Management?

A master data resource, also known as a master data entity, can be defined as a customer, employee, supplier, account, product, or site in a business transaction. In short, it refers to any individual, location or object involved in the operation of your business.

Master Data Management plays a crucial role for businesses by enabling them to make decisions based on up-to-date and organized data and analysis. It also prevents the formation of data silos where some data is only accessible to a specific group within the organization.

While MDM deals with master data management processes, data governance deals with the rights and rules of these processes: who can do what with the data, when and where. Data governance ensures that responsibilities for data are properly assigned.

Master Data Management (MDM) software functions as a centralized repository for business data collected from multiple systems. It uses machine learning to cleanse, verify and organize the data to maintain its quality as well as to connect scattered data points. This will allow your business to rely on a single source of reference data.

What are the features of Master Data Management software?

Master Data Management (MDM) software typically includes the following features:

Data masking to protect sensitive information;

Hierarchical management to organize data into subgroups (e.g., data belonging to teams, departments, headquarters, etc.);

Connection mapping to track associations between data resources;

Workflow visualization to allow users to view a series of projects and tasks along with their owners and progress steps.

Some MDM (Master Data Management) software vendors offer free versions of their tool, but it is more common to get free trial versions.

Investing in MDM (Master Data Management) software can increase transparency, develop operational efficiency, improve customer experience and contribute to sustainable growth of your business. Let's take a look at how your SMB can benefit from master data management.

How can SMBs benefit from master data management?

While master data management (MDM) stacks are generally best suited for large enterprises, SMBs can look at platforms that make it easier to build applications. That way, they can consider adopting a smaller set of capabilities, such as data profiling, before moving on to a more sophisticated solution.

To ensure the success of their master data management program, SMBs can do the following:

Opt for the trial version of a Master Data Management platform to learn how to implement features such as data cleansing or profiling.

Clearly define the business outcomes you want to achieve with the master data management tool you plan to adopt.

Master Data Management can help small and medium-sized business leaders optimize their processes, especially when it comes to collecting, organizing, processing and analyzing data. However, it's important to engage with stakeholders early in the process if you want to achieve your value-added goals.

Areas of the business that benefit from master data management

Your organization could benefit from a Master Data Management (MDM) tool if you work with Big Data. Big Data refers to large volumes of data that require advanced processing and analysis methods.

Whether your data sets include school or medical records, product inventories or customer data, master data management can help you organize, standardize and secure your files.

To give you a realistic idea of what this looks like, here are some areas of the business that can benefit from implementing a master data management (MDM) tool.

Higher Education

Universities and higher education institutions rely on a network of offices and departments to process information. This includes enrollment, scheduling, transcripts, tuition payments, and other student charges. It also includes scholarships, canteen fees, university housing, and sports access assistance.

Among the challenges faced by the university world is that of archiving systems, whose potential can be optimized. An MDM tool offers them the ability to merge multiple legacy systems in a way that speeds up data access:

Staff and student body data can be combined to facilitate course planning.

Faculty and school counselors can be alerted when grades or attendance drop, limiting the risk of dropouts;

An MDM tool can facilitate facilities management and maintenance of physical assets: computers, school shuttles, or even washing machines in dormitories, to reduce the risk of disruptions to services that students depend on to succeed.

Using a Master Data Management (MDM) tool in higher education improves academic record keeping and increases transparency by providing a complete view of all aspects of their academic experience.

The field of customer relationship management

According to Gartner, the success of any customer relationship management (CRM) program depends largely on how well master data is managed (full article available in English for Gartner customers). Indeed, it is nearly impossible to manage all of the diverse needs of customers without a single, reliable source of customer data.

An MDM tool can increase customer engagement and satisfaction in the following ways:

Ensure that all communications with customers are relevant and timely through accurate knowledge of their history and buying habits;

Avoid having sales agents contact customers multiple times about the same issue;

Give all departments (marketing, sales, etc.) the same access to customer data.

Using a Master Data Management (MDM) tool as part of customer management allows the company to have a 360° view of their customers in order to provide them with a

The healthcare sector

Healthcare is another area where data accuracy, consistency and security are of the utmost importance. Data sets in healthcare include patients, providers, practices, insurance plans, prescriptions and more.

Because of policies governing patient privacy, governance and data stewardship play a critical role.

Providers can benefit from master data management:

Better coordination of care across multiple providers: specialist notes, test lists and test results are all in one place;

Smoother transfer of information from physicians to insurers;

Easier integration for new employees.

Using a Master Data Management (MDM) tool in the healthcare industry ensures the security of sensitive data and improves communication between patients, physicians and caregivers.

What types of systems support master data management?

MDM is often less a feature in and of itself than a method that existing tools use to help organizations collect and organize their data. However, data management can be offered as an individual feature of software that targets the needs of specific markets, such as those we just discussed.

If you are looking for software solutions designed specifically for your industry, check out the tools below.

1. School Information System Software

School information system (SIS) software helps educational institutions automate assignment, grading, and other communications with students and their parents. It also serves as a repository of documents related to student tenure at a school.

2. CRM software

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software facilitates interaction, support and management of customer relationships. It keeps all contact information in one place, tracks customer communications and integrates with email clients. This is just a sample of the many features available.

3. Electronic Patient Record Software

Electronic patient record (EPR) software allows medical practices and healthcare facilities to document, organize and manage patient medical records. An EMR software keeps a digital record of patients' prescriptions, charts and detailed treatments. This type of software relies on industry approved codes to record and streamline data entry.

It helps providers move away from handwritten notes to an electronic filing system.

CIO software is closely tied to computerized medical record (CMR) software and often included in practice management software suites.

Are there alternatives to master data management?

While the benefits of master data management are numerous when implemented strategically, it can be a significant and costly undertaking, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

If your company is not yet ready for MDM, there are alternatives.

1. Manual data entry

Many companies rely on an administrator to manually enter data; however, this is a tedious process where human error is a possibility. This solution can be considered for smaller organizations.

2. Forms automation software

Instead of relying on manual data entry, you can adopt form automation software to facilitate electronic processing of documents.

If you work in the medical sector, this can be used to collect information about patients and visitors. If you're in human resources, use it to get employee reviews and opinions. Retail stores can use it to create invoices and organize product data, and customer service teams can generate support tickets.

This kind of tool can't clean or merge data in the same way as MDM (Master Data Management) software, but it can help you save time entering data and make it more readable.