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Value Of A Master Data Governance Program

Master data includes all that highly visible information about:

  • Customers
  • Products
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Suppliers
  • Business units

Every person in the organisation relies daily on master data, found in invoices, statements, packing slips, warehouse inventory lists, marketing catalogs, supplier listings and customer information.

Many personnel may not recognize this daily information they rely on as master data. Yet, master data touches every functional group, including the executive team, legal, finance, human capital, marketing, transportation and logistics, and facilities.

Everyone within the organization, as well as third-party suppliers, contractors, etc. are responsible for maintaining the integrity, accuracy and longevity of master data.

Master data requires a strong governance program to provide strategic leadership by setting the direction for collecting, maintaining and protecting master data through a series of policies, processes, training and audits.

For instance, without an enterprise view of master data, it would be easy for functional groups to remove certain data elements, with very costly impact to the organisation as a whole. This is usually most common with meta data and associated data.

Meta Data

Master data consists of:

  • Data elements - viewed or recognized by the end user
  • Metadata - data about the data differentiates on version of data from another.

Without metadata, data that may appear as duplicate data may be erroneously removed.


Associated Data

Secondary or associated data may also be overlooked. This is typically the child portion of a parent-child data relationship. The child data often further defines the parent. For example, for an online order, the customer name, address and account number comprise the parent data. Child data may include credit card, logon and password information, items purchased, dollar amount, conversion rate, date of purchase and credit card posting date.

Poorly designed validation rules addressing the management of secondary data can be costly. For instance, specifying deletion of all primary data sets if no secondary data is present or if a customer’s password has not been accessed in 18 months.


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