by Ray Wang.

Many of us purchased our large ERP systems prior to Y2K and our CRM systems almost 3 or 4 years ago.  As we enter the next big upgrade cycle thinking about what enterprise application (e.g., ERP, CRM, or SCM) to replace, we’ll need to think about the lessons learned. Traditionally, it made sense to put the transactional automation system in first and then go from there. However, with experience, we know this is completely backwards. If you put the big ERP system in, after a few years, some high level muckety muck inevitably asks where are those nice reports that they saw during the demo. Then, we spend the next several years building the right BI infrastructure so we can get to the analytics, dashboards, and reporting tools. A year later, we realize that our data is corrupt and we have duplicates that keep us from making a solid decision. The real question is: do we want to do this again?

In short, the answer is no. You’ll want to do this the right way during the next upgrade cycle. Start first by identifying your master data requirements. Think about your business processes you need to support and the customer and product data reuqirements. Then, figure out the type of analytical requirements you’ll have. Question you should ask include:

  1. What business value will you achieve with this information?
  2. What data needs to be real time?
  3. Who can access that information?
  4. How often should this data be update?
  5. What format for display and alerting?
  6. How do you tie this back to a business process?

From there build out your transactional systems to support his effort and align your vendor selection capabilities with this in mind. My suggestion… this time plan ahead, do it right, and avoid all the headaches from the last big application project!

For more on Enterprise Applications Vendor Selection read the Topic Overview: Enterprise Applications Vendor Selection

For more on MDM Trends, you can read in the latest Forrester Trends 2007: Master Data Management report.