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September 8, 2022

The key to growth and speed-to-market – Master Data

Why Master Data is critical to win with your consumers

As companies rally to keep up with the supply chain challenges, many of them realized the importance of their Product Data Definition and Management (or the lack thereof)!

Many a times the disconnect across Marketing, Product Development and Supply Chain reveals a critical pain point – the inability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and consumer behavior.  Opportunities such as multi-sourcing of products, changeover of items in a Product BoM and enabling channel demand to be agnostic to the internal product changes continues to evade many companies.

Our experience of these challenges shows the years of neglect in having a clear definition of “Product” viz. Newness vs carryover, changes in core vs non-core raw material, clarity in ownership of master data, lack of a governance structure to add or change master data. The disconnect that hinders the speed-to-market is driven by lack of clear and consistent definition and use of master data. Master Data around Product, Location, Suppliers, Customers (retail partners) and Consumers should be managed with discipline defined by a governing council.  And the discipline should be adopted across all functional groups involved in bring the product to the consumer.

When the functional groups operate within the construct of the master data governance, it eliminates duplicity in data, brings transparency of information from product ideation to consumer experience.  This unlocks the capability for the brand to be nimble in meeting the market conditions and consumer behaviors.

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Issues that companies should address:

These challenges can be effectively resolved when companies start to treat their Master Data as an enterprise asset.  Understand the purpose of the master data, have clarity in the ownership and maintenance, recruit or assign dedicated role for governing the right use of the data and retire the data when its lifecycle is over.

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Defining the process and the governance:
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  • Critically review the NPDI (New product development and introduction) process (conceptualization to shelf) and understand the creation, enrichment, and maintenance of the master data across this process.
  • Product attributes must be leveraged to bring transparency across Product Development, Planning, Sourcing, Distribution, Sales Channels, Regulatory, Trade Compliance and at global, region/country level.  
  • Develop a partnership with the supply and distribution vendors to ingest or provide the master data earlier in the lifecycle of the product development. 
  • Establish effective governance to manage definition, ownership, and maintenance across the lifecycle of the master data. 
  • Assign a c-suite executive to be the sponsor of the master data governance.  After all, master data is key not only to run your business efficiently, also to growing your business – organically and through merger and acquisition.
  • Align the Master Data to critical business outcomes to continually measure and improve the process, people behavior, data and/or technology.

How do you sustain this?

Master data process and technology is only small part of the solution. Adoption to the refined definition by the business members forms major part of the solution.  Education to all the departments across the business is key for adoption. The top-down approach is best here, when the leaders speak with conviction on the new master data and how it propels the business growth, teams will follow suit to maintain it with care.

What’s the role of technology?

All of this also require a critical review of the technology landscape.  Master Data should be authored in one system and shared across others to allow enrichment of attributes by appropriate business groups, across the NPDI process.  The technology must be flexible to enable the data governing business rules, along with the easy exchange of master data with Supply and Distribution partners.

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The opportunity doesn’t stop there.  It is valuable to bring in digital assets such as product visuals, associated metadata, creative content for a marketing campaign, enabling an effective bridge across Marketing, Product Development, Supply Chain and Distribution channels.

We, at ebp, have deployed different models of master data management to suit the culture and the operating model of the company. If you would like to discuss more on this topic and/or learn more about our company and services, please reach out to us at