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Master Data Management in Aerospace & Defense: The Way Forward

Master Data Management in Aerospace & Defense: The Way Forward
January 10, 2018

We live in a world of fake news and ‘alternative facts.’ Objectivity with regard to events and facts is increasingly being overpowered by different versions of the ‘truth,’ each having their own bias and spin. Now, transpose this trend onto your organizational landscape, and imagine the chaos that would ensue if your various functions and units were using divergent versions of customer master, vendor master, material master, and product master.

You get the drift, right? It’s vitally important in the digital era of always-on connectivity for enterprises to ensure they store and maintain accurate and latest version of master data across various dimensions. Equally critical is the need for companies to provision on-demand access to these data sets for their employees throughout the value chain.

That’s where master data management (MDM) plays a key role. By helping organizations link all of their essential data governance to a single master file that offers a common point of reference, MDM solutions facilitate consistency of master data across enterprise system of records, engagement, innovation, and intelligence. This, in turn, leads to streamlining of data sharing among departments and staff.

Another major impact of MDM that you must recognize is in relation to the efficiency and effectiveness of your business processes. If the master data is of poor quality, in terms of either accuracy or comprehensiveness, then the quality of decisions taken by the management will also be impacted accordingly. And this will have a tangible effect on many business outcomes, such as increased operating costs, process disruptions, and longer turnaround times.

A&D-specific MDM challenges

For a majority of aerospace and defense (A&D) organizations like yours, building a cohesive, automated system to monitor, audit, and govern the data linked to contract management remains a headache. Many aircraft manufacturers and defense contractors still rely on labor-intensive, manual workflows and disparate systems toward this end.

Moreover, various departments, sub-contractors, and other stakeholders across the value chain typically manually create and maintain their own data records for change and program management. The lack of synchronicity between these records, combined with an absence of well-defined data management standards, mean A&D companies spend lots of unproductive man hours in finding the relevant, correct information. Consequently, labor-related program management costs spike with an increase in project complexity. The productivity of engineering, contract management, and change management teams declines as well, since they are distracted from their core mandates to having to respond to information verifications and requests.

Given that the disparate databases built by various stakeholders are error-prone and become quickly outdated, A&D companies face the real risk of delayed realization of payments, regulatory penalties, and erosion of customer trust. An ineffective MDM setup also hinders your ability to swiftly respond to information requests from existing and prospective clients, since data is not easily accessible or verified.

Recommendations

In order to address these challenges effectively, you should first and foremost focus on your business processes and organizational structures around data management, and then figure out the best-fit MDM solutions. In fact, you might not require an MDM tool at all if you can reap the desired efficiency and productivity gains through institutionalization of a robust data stewardship structure.

Specifically, you must define a transparent, accountable information data governance mechanism. This mechanism must clearly define the roles and responsibilities for the individuals involved in setting standards for business processes and master data, as well as in monitoring workflows.

Define a transparent, accountable information #datagovernance mechanism to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your business processes. 

Even as you assign the custody of different master databases to different stakeholders, you should simultaneously frame the requisite business rules for correct and timely validation and maintenance of those information sets.

Second, when you implement MDM to build a single version of master data, ensure the resulting system helps you align the different master entities to the enterprise system of engagement. Also, model the data to provide scope for flexibility and connectivity under various scenarios, so that your MDM program reflects evolving business realities rather than a specific IT project goal.

Conclusion

As the volume of structured and unstructured data across your enterprise landscape continues to explode, ensuring real-time access to high-quality master data for your various stakeholders will be crucial. A failure to do so will hinder your ability to reduce time to market, shorten product development lifecycles, rationalize capital and operating expenditures, and manage supply chain complexity. Therefore, it is important for you to put in place master data management processes covering data governance, business process governance, and monitoring procedures.

Legends

  1. Customer Master: Data required to transact business relationships with customer(s). This master data will hold all pertinent information about customers namely customer name, address, contact details, payment terms, distribution channel, etc.
  2. Vendor Master: Data about vendors/ suppliers with whom you transact regularly. This master data shall hold details like Vendor Name, address, contact details, bank account to remit funds, key contact person from vendor organization, etc.
  3. Material Master: The material master contains information on all the materials that a company procures or produces, stores, and sells. It is the company's central source for retrieving material-specific data. This information is stored in individual material master records.
  4. Product Master: Contains information on all the products that a company sells. This master data will be the single source of truth containing all key product attributes the company has to offer.