Project management and change management: essential for successful MDM.


Sound project management and change management are essential for successful MDM initiatives.  In fact, several industry analysts and consultants have weighed in on these subjects in recent months.

A very good overview of the subject in Information Management last June seems to have been the catalyst that got things going.  In that piece, Kimberly Nevala with Baseline Consulting bulleted out some of the elements that comprise a successful plan for an MDM project:

  • Changing business processes and practices,
  • Defining business rules across functional groups and organizations,
  • Implementing governance for data or projects where governance has not existed before,
  • Integrating multiple systems or data sources, and
  • User training and adoption.

She also used getting into an exercise routine as a metaphor for the comprehensive, beginning-to-end plan needed for successful project management. Instead of a series of unconnected activities such as eating less and working out more, a more successful approach would call for a personal trainer who would analyze your personal situation and needs, recommend the precise kind of diet and exercise you need, and then supervise, encourage, and admonish – in short, manage – your efforts.

Far from just being list-minders, she calls for project managers to be “leaders and change agents who celebrate achievement, proactively assess, prioritize and communicate potential pitfalls and facilitate action to continuously move the ball forward.”

Platon consultant Stuart Murdoch followed up a few weeks later in the same publication with a piece emphasizing the critical importance of change management in successful MDM implementation:

Not every project needs to address change management, but if your project has any aspect of changing people’s behaviors, attitudes or roles, or has elements that might create resistance, then look into change management.

Every MDM project, almost by definition, involves changing people’s behaviors, attitudes, or roles.  And when those dynamics come into play, you’re almost certain to have elements that create resistance.  In which case, change management should overlay the entire MDM project management process from beginning to end.

Murdoch describes change management as “a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams or organizations from a current state to a desired future state.”  He stresses the importance of portraying the vision of the new ways of working, emphasizing the resulting benefits and any impact the change may have on personnel.  Elements he outlines include changes to personnel (roles, capabilities, attitudes), processes (activities, workflows, systems, value change), and resources (headcount, workspace, equipment); risks and issues; post-implementation reinforcement; resistance; and communication, which he describes as “the weapon of choice to overcome resistance.”

Days later, Mike Ferguson, managing director of Intelligent Business Strategies Limited, posted a really good in-depth article on change management in Data Quality Pro, with helpful guidelines and detailed diagrams.  Of the excellent insights and advice he delivers, this may be the key observation:

In my opinion a significant contributor to success in MDM is that IT professionals tasked with implementing MDM must start an MDM project by leaving technology aside and taking the trouble to learn how their business works.

The following month, MDM consultant Dan Power of Hub Design Solutions contributed his thoughts on a related topic, organizational change and data governance. An MDM or data governance deployment is comparable to an ERP or CRM deployment, he posits: “Any time you want the organization to embrace new processes and new technology, and more importantly to modify its DNA (that is, its culture), you’ve got to embrace organizational change…It can literally make the difference between success and failure.”

(Dan Power is also running a series of blog posts this month on MDM best practices, several of which cover aspects of project management and organizational change.)

As you plan your MDM, PIM, or data governance initiative, keep project management and change management in mind.  Build them into your planning, in terms of timelines, level of effort, and budget.  And make sure the MDM solution provider you select has a project management team with the experience and insights to meet your company’s specific requirements.

Update 10/18/2010: Yet another shoe drops:

Don’t underestimate the challenges of changing people’s behavior. Changing people’s behavior is the greatest obstacle to the success of an IM strategy.”  #1 of Eight Information Management Strategy Factors.

Update 10/19/2010: And again:

“Master data by its very nature spans the entire organization, and a program addressing master data is almost by definition disruptive to that organization.”  Master Data Management is About Organizational Change.

One Response to Project management and change management: essential for successful MDM.

  1. Dylan Jones says:

    Really nice roundup of ideas around the topic, thanks for including the link to Data Quality Pro, appreciated.

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