Managing customer information is one of the key components of a good Order-to-Cash strategy. From the customer relationship flows everything from orders, market share, revenue, growth, etc. Without customers, there are no orders and there is no revenue, market share or growth. The obvious question then becomes: how does an organization best manage the customer relationship?
There are a number of things organizations can do to ensure they have a good handle on managing customer relationships. One is ensuring they have a good master data management (MDM) strategy. A good strategy will ensure an organization properly identifies customer information and manages that information in a way that provides valuable insight necessary for forecasting. Furthermore, ensuring the information is housed in a solution that has the capability to serve multiple departments or can easily integrate with other solutions (CRM or ERP solutions) is important to ensuring an organization gets the most out of its master data solution.
Many organizations have components of customer data scattered in various forms and formats throughout the company. Identifying and consolidating that information into a primary resource that is flexible and searchable will be necessary.
When consolidating that information, several things should be considered:
- What information to compile. Usually, full customer details are best such as contact person, contact information, company size, locations, previous purchases, etc.
- How to compile the information. Once an organization knows where to look and what to look for, the process can begin on how to compile the information. In addition, a decision must be made on where to place and store the data.
- Make sure it can scale. When choosing a master data tool, it’s best to select a solution that will grow with the business.
- Data management ownership. In many organizations, the Chief Information Officer, in conjunction with the sales team (SVP or Director of Sales) have primary ownership of the data. Other owners should be determined based on individual organizational needs.
- Data security. This may include proper classification of data to ensure regulatory and legal compliance as well as incorporating appropriate procedures for an in-the-cloud or on-site solution.
- What MDM tools to use. Selecting and implementing the right master data solution will impact the organization’s ability to intelligently access critical customer information when selling and forecasting.
- Selection process. When considering the selection of an MDM solution, there are several criteria to consider in order to ensure it meets the organization’s requirements. Some of those criteria will include type of data, quality of data, data input method, data retrieval method and data reconciliation – just to name a few.
MDM solutions to consider
Depending on the size of the organization and the specific criteria, available customer master solutions to consider include:
- IBM InfoSphere: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/infosphere/
- SAP Netweaver: http://help.sap.com/nwmdm
- Oracle Master Data Management: http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/master-data-management/overview/index.html
- EnterWorks MDM: http://www.enterworks.com/resources/enable-mdm/
- Talend: https://www.talend.com/products/mdm
- Informatica: https://www.informatica.com/products/master-data-management.html#fbid=L-S9YLOs5WQ
- Liaison: https://www.liaison.com/solutions/data-management/master-data-management/
- SAS MDM: http://www.sas.com/en_ie/software/data-management/master-data-management.html