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Identifying Master Data

Identifying Master Data

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Published by desijnk
Master data definition and selection
Master data definition and selection

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Published by: desijnk on Jan 20, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Leader in Data Qualityand Data Integration
 877–846–FLUXInternational+44 (0) 1753 272 020
A DataFlux White Paper
Prepared by:
David Loshin
Semantics, Metadata and Identifying Master Data
Once you have determined that your organization can achieve the benefits of integrating data quality and data governance through introducing a master datamanagement (MDM) program, some typical early questions emerge, such as “Whatarchitectural approaches will we take to deploy our MDM solution?” or “What are thebusiness approaches for acquiring the appropriate tools and technologies required forMDM success?” These are good questions, but they are often asked prematurely. Evenbefore determining how to manage the enterprise master data asset, there are morefundamental questions that need to be asked and comprehensively explored, such as:
What data elements constitute our “master data?” 
How do we locate and isolate master data objects that exist within theenterprise?
How do we assess the variances between the different representations in orderto consolidate instances into a single view?Because of the ways that diffused application architectures have evolved withindifferent organizations, it is likely that while there are a relatively small number of core master objects used, there are many different ways that these objects aremodeled, represented and stored. For example, any application that must managecontact information for individual customers will rely on a data model that maintainsthe customer’s name. Yet one application will track an individual’s full name, whileothers will break up the name into its first, middle and last parts. And even for thosethat track the given and family names of a customer will do it differently – perform aquick scan of the data sets within your own organization and you are likely to find “LAST_NAME” attributes with a wide range of field lengths.
Figure 1: Isolating master data from different data sets.
 The challenges are not limited to determining what master objects are used. Indeed,the core requirement is to find where master objects are used and to chart a strategyfor standardizing, harmonizing and consolidating them into a master repository orregistry. When the intention is to create an organizational asset that is not justanother data silo, it is imperative that your organization provide the means for boththe consolidation and integration of master data – and facilitate the most effective andappropriate sharing of that master data.
What is Master Data?
What are the characteristics of master data? So far, the industry has been better atdescribing master data but less adept at actually defining what master data is. As adescription, master data objects are those core business objects that are used in thedifferent applications across the organization, along with their associated metadata,attributes, definitions, roles, connections, and taxonomies. Master data objects arethose “things” that we care about – the things that are logged in our transactionsystems, measured and reported on in our reporting systems, and analyzed in ouranalytical systems. Common examples of master data include:
Contact mechanismsFor example, consider the following transaction: “David Loshin purchased seat 15B onflight 238 from BWI to SFO on July 20, 2006.” Some of the master data elements inthis example and their types are shown in Table 1.
Master Data Object
David Loshin
Seat 15B
Table 1: Master data elements for a typical airline reservation.
Aside from the above description, master data objects share certain characteristics:
The real-world objects modeled within the environment as master data objectstend to be referenced in multiple business areas. For example, the concept of a “vendor” may exist in the finance application at the same time as in theprocurements application.

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