How to create an effective Master Data Management strategy for Microsoft Dynamics

Reading Time 8 minutes | Written by Sharomy Autar | February 18, 2021

As an organization you have information, or data, about prospects, customers, suppliers and partners. This data is stored in different systems. For sales, it is a CRM system, while finance works with an ERP system. But how do you get this data to communicate with each other? How do you make sure that finance knows exactly to which public or private limited company the invoice has to be sent to? The magic glue that connects data and systems is Master Data Management (MDM).

Master Data Management can be summarized as managing, organizing, categorizing, enriching and keeping data up-to-date within your organization and systems.

In this article we outline:

  • the importance of a good Master Data Management strategy
  • how to set up an MDM strategy for Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • what could go wrong without Data Governance
Microsoft Dynamics

The importance of a good Master Data Management strategy

We live in an information-driven world, where data is used in a variety of ways to improve business performance. Almost every department has to deal with data. Besides the customer data from sales and the invoice data from finance, we also have the legal documents from compliance departments and the information about complaints from customer support. Sales or Marketing are usually the first to enter data about customers, because they are the first to have contact with the customer. But who keeps this data up to date? Who ensures that an address or name change is known in all systems – and thus in all departments? Managing all the data in your organization is therefore becoming increasingly important.

A good Master Data Management strategy is essential to both reduce costs and increase the profit of your organization. What do these two things have to do with MDM? When eliminating data silos the organization can work together flawlessly. This ensures a huge efficiency gain (read: cost saving).

Bottlenecks when not implementing an MDM strategy

Take a sales process as an example: a marketing manager creates a lead list of hot prospects that come from an online marketing campaign. Marketing gets the customer’s company name and contact information into sales’ CRM system. These are assigned by the sales manager to the right account manager within a CRM system. The account manager is immediately excited and decides to contact the prospect, but then it turns out that the phone number is incorrect. Fortunately, the account manager manages to get in touch with the prospect via email.

After some good talks, the customer decides to go into business with you. The account manager sends the customer’s details to the legal department in order to finalize the contract. Here it turns out that the organization consists of a lot of different subsidiaries. For the contract to be legally valid, legal needs to know exactly which entity to address.

Meanwhile, the finance department is using external data to check whether the customer is creditworthy. Fortunately, the legal and finance departments are sitting close to each other and the finance employee hears the entity discussion between the account manager and legal. This could have gone badly wrong. Finance checked on the financially healthy holding, but now it turns out that it concerns a subsidiary that is somewhat less stable. Finance changes the payment conditions to upfront payment. After a few months, one of the invoices turns out not to have been paid. The reminder sent to the customer by the mail never arrived, according to them. You guessed it: the customer has moved and none of the above departments changed the address in the systems.

As you can see, there is a lot of data in circulation in this process. A lot can go wrong in the different steps of the process if there is no proper data management strategy. The situations in this process may sound like worst-case scenarios, but unfortunately they are often reality. It is therefore important that you make agreements about who is responsible for which data and which data changes. This is called Data Governance. If you have your master data management in place, you ensure that your entire organization looks at one single source of truth. The customer does not have to repeat her data every time, because every department can access the data within its own system.

Listen to our podcast on Master Data Management (Dutch):

Setting up a Master Data Management strategy for Microsoft Dynamics CRM in 5 steps

Does your organization use Microsoft Dynamics? Let us explain how you can get started with a Master Data Management strategy in 5 steps:

1. Get an overview and map your data silos

Before you can link data, it is good to know in which departments data about prospects, customers and for example suppliers are being collected. Sales often uses Dynamics 365 Sales and Finance Dynamics 365 Finance. Map out the islands of data within your organization so that you get an overview of where data silos are formed.

2. Define your Data Governance strategy

Data Governance is a set of rules on how you want your colleagues to insert and manage data. For example, the right notation for certain fields, which fields are mandatory to be filled in when creating a record, etc. MDM allows you to standardize these rules. This prevents human errors when processing data. Without a Data Governance strategy, Master Data Management has little chance of success.

3. Make a fresh start with a clean set of data

Each year, about 20,000 to 30,000 businesses move. Some of these businesses may be your suppliers or customers. If no one has updated this data, you need to start by cleaning up this outdated data. You do this by linking your Microsoft Dynamics to a source that has current business data on companies. In this way, your records are cleaned up and you can be sure that you are looking at up-to-date data. An example of an external data source is the Dun & Bradstreet data cloud. The Dun & Bradstreet datacloud is the largest and most comprehensive in the world. When you link this reference database to your own system, your data is monitored and updated automatically in case of changes, such as a rehousing.

4. Enrich your data with external data

An address is one thing, but there is a lot more data about your records that can help you to paint a complete picture of your customers, leads, partners and suppliers. Think about credit risk data or information about the company structure. You can link this data to the records in Microsoft Dynamics using the same link as in point 3. This is called data enrichment. An address is one thing, but there is a lot more data about your records that can help you paint a complete picture of your customers, leads, partners and suppliers. Think about credit risk data or information about the company structure. You can link this data to the records in Microsoft Dynamics using the same link as in point 3. This is called data enrichment.

5. Make sure all systems are able to communicate with each other

When data is updated in CRM, you want that data to also be updated in ERP and other linked tools, such as billing software. To make these systems talk to each other, and thus take full advantage of MDM, you need more. By linking your systems with our unique D-U-N-S® number, you link all your data. This gives you an up-to-date overall picture of all your business relations.

Altares Dun & Bradstreet: your data partner

Altares Dun & Bradstreet helps organizations create a corporate culture that prioritizes data as a strategic weapon. Our Dun & Bradstreet data cloudis an inexhaustible source of information, with insights that 90% of all fortune 500 companies access daily. Do you need help setting up a master data management strategy? Get in touch with us.

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Sharomy Autar

Marketing Content Officer

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