Over the past year, Squadra MDM, together with the Shopping Tomorrow expert group, has examined the application of Lean to data management and it appears that some very practical tools can be extracted from it.

Master Data Management (MDM) is aimed at “standardized, complete and correct” recording of information. This requires care, rules and procedures. This is often at odds with an organization that quickly wants to introduce new products, product groups, customers, suppliers, etc. The challenge as an MDM organization is to be able to keep up with the pace of the change within the organization, but what requirements does this place on the organization, processes and systems? Could the Lean principles possibly offer a solution? 

Lean focuses on avoiding wasted time and manpower by dealing with Muda, Mura and Muri. These are three Japanese concepts that stand for waste, unevenness, and overburden. Applying the Lean principles to Master Data Management provides useful tools for every MDM organization. 

Muda (waste) 

All activities that do not add value can be seen as waste. Examples are overproduction, unnecessary transport, buffer stocks, waiting, skills that are not used, inefficient processes and errors.

With MDM, think of:

– Record in 1 place instead of entering the same information in multiple systems 

– Record the master data upstream in the chain  

– First time right; prevent having to correct of errors

– Make use of streamlined and automated processes as much as possible 

Mura (unevenness) 

Unevenness is for example when an organization is very busy on Monday and there is nothing to do on Friday. Or if the first part of the production process runs smoothly, but the speed always decreases later in the process.

With MDM, think of:

– Peaks in the entry of new items, such as seasonal collections. The peaks can cause the processes that depend on this Master Data to be delayed (eg: time-to-market). Try to reach a certain ‘flow’, for example by consciously planning data maintenance outside known peak times. 

Muri (overburden)

If people have to work too hard for a long period of time, they’ll burn out. This also applies to machines and equipment. Quality and capacity play a role in this.

With MDM, think of:

– Data stewards who are under pressure for a long time due to poor data quality and due to:

– The lack of sufficient tools to improve data quality 

– The lack of or miscommunication with regard to sufficient KPIs, meaning that the performance of data stewards is not appreciated   

– An outdated and overloaded IT infrastructure or MDM system, making the system slow and unstable

Today, Lean principles are (again) in the spotlight in many places, perhaps because of the connection to sustainability initiatives. After all, the core is to prevent waste and to work more efficiently. Due to Lean principles can help to improve MDM solutions. Nevertheless, it remains challenging to make MDM more Lean and to permanently anchor this in organizations.