master data management (MDM)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Guide to managing a data quality assurance program

Master data management (MDM) is a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to one file, called a master file, that provides a common point of reference. When properly done, MDM streamlines data sharing among personnel and departments. In addition, MDM can facilitate computing in multiple system architectures, platforms and applications.  

The benefits of the MDM paradigm increase as the number and diversity of organizational departments, worker roles and computing applications expand. For this reason, MDM is more likely to be of value to large or complex enterprises than to small, medium-sized or simple ones. When companies merge, the implementation of MDM can minimize confusion and optimize the efficiency of the new, larger organization.

For MDM to function at its best, all personnel and departments must be taught how data is to be formatted, stored and accessed. Frequent, coordinated updates to the master data file are also essential.

See also: Collaborative Master Data Management, business rules engine (BRE), executive dashboard, data visualization, data mining


This was last updated in November 2010

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