We are seeing a second generation of MDM projects. There is a whole wave of organisations who have invested in the technology previously that are coming to the market to re-assess their options because the relationship with their existing vendor has quite simply become unproductive. Whether you’re looking to make a change in terms of your MDM strategy or are actively scoping out potential vendors of choice for the first time, my advice would be to use the same criteria you would have if you were selecting a life partner. After all MDM projects by their very nature are deeply strategic and whilst short term value is paramount it’s important to think about the long term. So here are my top 4 tips that are equally as applicable to finding an MDM vendor as they are to finding ‘Mr or Mrs Right’.
Tip 1: In every relationship you need to keep your independence
How often do we hear that it’s important to retain a sense of independence in any relationship? Well that couldn’t be truer when you come to think about selecting an MDM partner. This industry has developed a reputation for being a services heavy and that all adds up to a significant amount of cost. It’s often said that the services costs associated with an MDM project can run into between 4 and 7 times the cost of the licensed software itself. MDM by its very nature needs to scale across the organisation and you don’t want to have to take an army of highly paid external consultants with you as you drive towards enterprise-wide uptake. That’s only going to end up in two outcomes either a divorce or an unhappy marriage. If your keen to maintain a decent degree of independence from your MDM partner then make sure you get the answers to questions like: how easy is the product to install and get up and running? How easy is it to configure the system to suit your business logic without external help? What kind of knowledge transfer is available to enable integration of future data sources moving forwards? How much support is in place for data stewards to manage to do lists and tasks?
Tip 2: Make sure you look out for each other
Isn’t it nice when your ‘other half’ looks out for your best interests? Well it’s an important quality to be on the lookout for with any potential partner in the MDM space. In the context of this analogy you would be looking out for the level of support that your potential MDM vendor can provide. Do they offer 24/7 support? Do they offer dedicated Project Management resource to ensure your initiative achieves time to value and no stone is left unturned? What kind of customer feedback does the vendor get around the quality of their technical resource? We have recently gone one step further developing a concept called Support + where we can monitor the health of your MDM system remotely and point out potential issues proactively before they impact business performance. Like any relationship it’s all about being there for each other.
Tip 3: Make sure you understand your joint finances
On to the age old question: do you marry for love or money? It’s going to vary from individual to individual but the money aspect is often rather important. When thinking about it in an MDM context it’s all about ensuring that the Total Cost of Ownership of your solution is favourable. There are a number of issues that sit underneath the bonnet of this TCO debate when it comes to MDM. The first is all around performance. Can you achieve high levels of performance around the load, match merge process without having to shoulder obscene amounts of hardware costs? The second consideration is around accuracy. It’s important to assess the matching accuracy of any MDM solution to ensure your data stewards can trust the system and aren’t burdened with trolling through excessive amounts of false positives, false negatives and grey areas that lead to increased costs associated with resourcing the solution. Another key point is how your potential ‘love interest/MDM vendor’ can help you understand the implementation costs of the project right from the get go. We do a lot of work on this particular aspect here at VisionWare equipping customers with ‘Services Calculators’ to ensure they can budget for the project appropriately upfront. Finally, you need to think about the overall cost of the licensed software itself and benchmark it against the MDM market. Clearly you need to fall in love with the features of your MDM solution – that’s a given – but you also have to consider the financial practicalities.
Tip 4: Pick someone who enables you to do bigger and better things
You want your partner to be the ‘wind beneath your wings’ and be the platform for you to achieve things that you didn’t realise you were even capable of. I actually think this sums up the concept of MDM really quite nicely – it’s an enabling technology. It supports applications from across the business to present users with a single view of the truth to create compelling business outcomes that are varied and far reaching. But some MDM vendors will go further than others in this department. At VisionWare we believe in a concept called ‘Embedded MDM’ which effectively allows users to leverage all of the benefits from the technology but seamlessly integrated into their CRM system. Imagine the potential of being able to use your CRM system as a portal into every other customer record from every other line of business system from across the enterprise to ensure you have the complete picture of a customer as and when you are engaging with them. It’s this ability to facilitate MDM and CRM to seamlessly work as a team that makes us stand out from the crowd. And after all isn’t that what a relationship is all about – teamwork?
So there you have it. As a result of reading this blog you should be one step closer to lifelong happiness, where your MDM project creates business outcomes and delivers long term value and you have a great home life to the bargain. If you’re interested in finding out more about what VisionWare stand for then please feel free to take a look at this comprehensive guide to our Master Data Management Platform.