Tips for managing system and data sprawl issues

Learn how to manage system and data sprawl issues with tips from our MDM expert, including designing a conceptual data model and developing an MDM roadmap.

I was wondering what ideas you have to address a master data management (MDM) scenario such as this one:

There are a handful of systems containing customer and product information that which is buried in the transaction systems. There also are a few systems to track sales and products, and others for financials and billing; in total, more than a couple dozen systems scattered about across a few geographies. And the company has been around for a while, so there’s a lot of data.

How can this be consolidated or managed in a way that addresses system and data sprawl issues as well as the need for accurate information and consolidated reporting? A data warehouse? An operational data store (ODS)? Maybe a combination of the two? I’m also wondering what this would look like -- e.g., would these legacy systems feed a new database such as a data warehouse but still keep their own copies of the data, or would it all just be linked together informally?

Any ideas and discussion are much appreciated, Jill -- thank you!

Hey! This isn’t a question; it’s a Statement of Work, for chrissakes! Have you seen that Mad Men episode where Conrad Hilton wants Draper’s opinion on an ad campaign from a competing firm and Draper says, “Hey, I got a living to make here, buddy! Hire me!” Then he lights a cigarette and they stare each other down for a good long minute.

[Pause. Puff.]

But OK, since you’re a TechTarget fan, I’ll play along this one time.

So, a lot of data “scattered about,” huh? “Buried in transaction systems?” Never seen that before. (Sorry, but you put me in a surly mood.)

Do this: One, figure out what business problem(s) you need to solve. Two, figure out what business questions need to be answered. Three, map the data that you need to answer those questions. And four, design a conceptual data model to illustrate the data and its interrelationships. At that point, you’ll know which data to source from which systems. Then you can identify new business problems that can be supported by either the modeled data or new sets of candidate data that also should go through the modeling process.

All the data that’s scattered about will overwhelm you and render you inert. Don’t focus on it; focus on what your business needs. That will take you a long way in developing your MDM roadmap. And that’s all you’re getting out of me, buddy. 


This was last published in May 2010

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