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More on (master data) Governance – A rulebook, not a play book

by Andrew White  |  March 26, 2010  |  1 Comment

I read with great interest Jim Ericson’s blog of March 23rd, 2010, entitled, “Governance: A Rulebook, not a Playbook“.  Jim was reviewing the growing interest in “governance” and its importance to how organizations manage information.  One part of the blog I didn’t “get” or at least I think I disagree with; one point I agreed with.

First the part I didn’t agree with.  Jim said,

“Some software folks are now proposing that the implementation of master data management should be redefined as the implementation of data governance. That’s a head-scratcher to me because governance might be called a framework or a practice, but certainly not a product. While they go hand in hand, to say MDM is actually governance sounds to me like saying a BMW is actually a set of traffic regulations.”

Looking at the first point, “implementation of MDM should be redefined as implementation of data governance”,  I would say that MDM includes a key component that is governance (of mater data).  So yes, MDM includes a governance component.  How could MDM not include (master data) governance?  What on earth is MDM if there is no governance?  Some IT oriented data integration effort?  We have too many of those already.  Gartner includes governance in its definition of the discipline of MDM.  

Perhaps the confusion – and this might be Jim’s point – comes from the software side.  Do MDM software vendors (or vendors that sell into the MDM market) now claim that they are selling governance tools?  We would agree that governance is not a technology – so one cannot “sell” governance tools (for MDM) seperate from MDM tools.  Perhaps some self-named MDM vendors do not sell what is needed to support the governance routine; as such these would be weak offerings.  But it is not clear to me what Jim was getting at.  I think for a program to be called “MDM” it has to have a mater data governance component/routine; not an enterprise wide, govern-everything program, but a governance component that concerns itself with master data.  If not, it is not MDM.

Now the part I agree with completely:

“…governance does not equal good decision-making”

Governance of master data (I am not talking about governance of any and all data) as a rule book provides for a framework where processes are maintained that assure, in context, “single view” of master data at the point at which the business user needs it.  Master data governance does not care for any one specific need; it has to care about needs for all uses – analytical, operational, transactional, whatever.  However, mater data governance does not a) assure the right business decision is taken, or b) that the actual desired business outcome is achieved.  The decision, and outcome, is way beyond “governance” of anything, let along master data governance.  Governance is an enabler, not an end to itself.

Come talk about governance of master data (not any old governance or any old data) at our upcoming MDM Summit:

Gartner MDM Summit, 2010

Category: governance  mdm  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on More on (master data) Governance – A rulebook, not a play book


  1. Puneesh says:

    I am completely in sync with you. Master Data Management is about governance of your master. IT is about how you maintain, control and update your data and at the sametime, keep it seprate from your transactional systems again for better control on managing this data.

    To your sencond point, we need to be reminded by somebody again and again that technology is an enabler in decision making and it can not make the decisions itself – even if takes decisions (in some cases) – they are based on some prebuilt logics for defined scenarios only



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