I love tidiness!

Even though this might come as news to my family—who have given up commenting on the state of our home office, which is cluttered with piles of books and papers randomly scattered over the floor and various other horizontal surfaces—it’s true. The tidiness I strive for however is tidiness in data. Few things are as pleasing to me as a neat column of spreadsheet values that are uniform in structure and high in quality.

But however pleasing I find the aesthetic of consistently built data models, I realize that for companies to undertake large-scale Master Data Management projects there have to be more tangible benefits than simply beautiful data. These benefits need to be demonstrable through a range of hard and soft monetary savings and operational efficiencies that are a nice and neat way to allow all stakeholders to have access to that data.

Traditionally these stakeholders included the primary data users, supply chain, inventory, engineering and maintenance. Today, with companies increasingly seeing data as a corporate asset, those stakeholders go all the way to C-suite decision-makers, including the chief information officer, chief financial officer and even the CEO.

Of course, money hasn’t always been the driving force. I remember in the heady days of the early 2000s when oil prices were hitting $147 a barrel. The Oil & Gas industry was drowning in money those days but also bad data, an information overload caused by poor data management. Millions of lines of data pouring into systems, not just from business as usual but from massive capital projects, as the sector grew exponentially.  The lack of governance in managing this data flowing into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems caused a massive overload and duplication on spare parts data.

After multiple safety incidents, it became clear that operational safety and efficiency could not be achieved if engineers could not identify and source critical parts in a timely manner. So major cleanup projects were started to resolve the issues caused by poor data quality, often with spreadsheets and overstretched resources—and with limited success.

Roll on to the present day. With oil prices a fraction of what they were, we find the same challenges but with much tighter financial constraints with which to meet them. In a COVID-19 world, priorities are challenged and noncore projects are questioned.

And outside the commoditized world of Oil & Gas, multiple corporations with ever-tightening margins need to find ways of both building the corporate data asset and balancing it with prudent financial constraint.

And what about tomorrow? When you have finished your Master Data project and have systems filled with high-quality, consistent, trusted data, how do you maintain that shine into the future? Maintaining the quality of data is equally, if not more, important than getting it to that state in the first place, and proper data governance will keep your data in a fit state throughout its lifecycle. By subjecting data to the same Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed (RACI) standards as other information, strong governance practices can be established by using the right tools.

That is why today it is even more important than ever to be able to demonstrate the efficacy of undertaking Master Data Management projects and implementing strong governance solutions to support them. It is why having the ammunition to show a clean look at a return on investment is so important and why we at Sphera have produced an E-book and web application to help and support you in doing that. Take a look and tell us what you think.

But don’t just consider the dollars, euros, yen, pounds, etc., that can be retained in the company’s bottom line, also consider the human impact. Having structured data simply makes people’s jobs more pleasant. Finding what you need quickly and efficiently, trusting the data in the system not only saves time and effort but also leads to a greater sense of satisfaction in being able to get on with the job in hand. Given all the stresses and strains we are under at the moment, clearly anything to improve our lives should be welcome by all.

I could wax lyrical about the benefits of tidy data all day, but unfortunately I have to get back to the pressing issue of tidying my home office and reducing my own domestic stress levels.

Good Day, Governor: How Master Data Governance Improves Safety & Productivity While Lowering Costs

Learn how master data governance improves safety and productivity while lowering costs.

Download E-Book
Peter Hardy

Peter Hardy

Peter Hardy is Sphera’s Director of MDM governance. He has worked in the engineering information management space for over 35 years, including running his own consultancy business for more than 20. He currently specializes in Master Data Management for equipment and spare parts and services management in Greenfield projects and operational delivery.

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