The Intelligent Data Management Blog

Put some Agility in your MDM Mix [Part 1]

This time of the year is the best period to make predictions, build new concepts and try to perform paradigm shifts.
Well, I will not. I will speak about old things applied to old things.

I have been working along with developers following Agile Development Methods (XP and Scrum mainly) with a lot of success. I have seen them, using these methods, deliver products in no time. As a product manager, I was (and still am) able to see my ideas (and my customers' requirements) literally come to life. Apologies for being a complete geek, but I still find it exhilarating.

Today, I was wondering if someone ever had the idea to analyze how agile development methods would apply to master data management projects.
So I Googled "MDM Agile Development" and found ONE relevant article.

Well, it seems that only one person had the idea? I would be second then!


According to Wikipedia:

Agile software development is a group of software development methodologies based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

Let's see how our conception of MDM matches the definition of agile development (according to the Agile Manifesto):

  • MDM is about an enterprise wide collaboration, Agile Development promotes customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • MDM is about based on soft skills and supports a (non-technical) governance initiative, Agile Development is about favoring individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • MDM should aim at delivering visible results for the business, when Agile Development favors delivering quickly working pieces of software. For example, a method like Scrum aims at delivering a working iteration of the software every 30 days.
  • Finally MDM is about responding to ever changing business needs, when agile Development favors responding to change over following a plan. More precisely, agile development welcomes changing requirements even late in development.

Agile Methods (Extreme Programming, SCRUM and others) have a successful track of records. The principles behind these methods align almost perfectly with the principles guiding master data management. Maybe it is time to put some "Agile" in the MDM Mix?

We will continue this discussion in the second part of this post.