Understanding Key Facets of Your Master Data; Facet #2: Relationships

TIBCO Master Data Management Relationships
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In a previous post on modeling, we briefly touched on relationships when describing different data model patterns. In this post, we’ll be expanding on the topic. Relationships define how the different elements in your master data connect to each other. Some of those connections include relationships with attributes (a customer to gender); some represent hierarchies (a product to the product line, a subordinate to a manager); still, others are connections between domains (suppliers to products). 

Organizations often neglect the inter-domain, or multi-domain, relationships when starting their master data management (MDM) programs. Perhaps because of the way MDM programs are executed. Because most firms start with a pilot project in a smaller area of the business, the multi-domain aspects don’t appear up until they start to try and scale beyond the pilot. 

Beyond multi-domain what are some of the aspects of relationships that you should be aware of? 

Well, it depends on how complex the relationships between the entities in your domain are. The level of interconnectedness between the entities in your domain drives complexity. 

Consider these questions: 

  • Do you target businesses or end consumers? 
  • How heavily “networked” or interconnected are your customers to each other? 
  • Do those customer hierarchies matter? 

What about relationships with reference data? 

Reference data is often overlooked in MDM projects. But it is master data in its own right and should have its own lifecycle, governance, and management. Often MDM implementation teams will “support” reference data by creating a local copy of the information in lookup tables. Over time, and in the absence of a strategy, the local versions begin to diverge from each other. This can lead to some very real problems. 

To address this problem, it’s important that your MDM platform has the ability to define cross-domain relationships. Referring to (rather than making a copy of) data from different domains means that each domain can be separately managed. 

How will you visualize relationships and hierarchies? 

A common use of intradomain and interdomain relationships is to create hierarchies. Being able to create and visualize hierarchies is a great tool for your business users. It helps the business understand the data, leading to better adoption and project success. So, make sure that minimal effort is required for hierarchy management. 

Consider the different business users of your master data. Risk, legal, sales, and marketing all may wish to access data for a customer, but these different users may not use the information in the same way. The context of your business users may drive the need to create adaptations of your hierarchies. 

Organizations often neglect the inter-domain, or multi-domain, relationships when starting their master data management (MDM) programs. Click To Tweet

More key facets to consider 

In this post, we discussed a few of the main elements of MDM relationships that we think many people miss in the early days of their MDM program. For more on key facets of your master data, read this comprehensive guide on the six business-critical facets of master data that organizations often overlook. 

And keep a lookout for our next post in which we cover issues related to time and going beyond simple versioning!