Master Data. Your Secret Sauce.

Master Data. It’s that stuff that you use in your role every day. Every business has it. But not every business is leveraging it to their advantage.

In 1974, McDonald’s started to refer to its Special Sauce in an attempt to differentiate itself from the competition. Today, it’s used to generally describe a unique selling point, or method that wins more business for those with secret sauce. Master Data is the way to discover your unique selling point, your secret sauce.

It may start out as your client records, invoices, receipts. Or it is asset registers, spare parts catalogues. It can also be staff records, a register of logins or web traffic.

Just like a burger without secret sauce, data alone can be kinda ….dry. But it’s what you can do with data that gets very exciting.

McDonald’s: masters of Secret Sauce. Also pretty good at leveraging their data.

Master Data – The Enabler

As Edison Montgomery put it, a “clear definition of goals is the key to success”. The way I see it, data is the secret sauce to achieving goals, and gaining an edge over your competition.

That’s because master data is critical to your analytics project. When it’s ‘healthy’, master data helps you to track, measure progress to goals, and improve on past performance. I find there are usually three differences in the way data is used in a business:

  • It’s gathered in a database, a system or in lists.
  • It’s used to report on past performance.
  • It’s used to plan ahead.

Transforming Master Data into a Secret Sauce: An Example

  • You may do the basics and store your data, like a spare parts catalogue.
  • If you’re reporting on how long it took to get spares in for critical work, you may identify issues in the process managing spare parts. You may also now compare how you’re performing against KPIs or objectives.
  • The next stage of extracting value from data is to be processing it in a way that it answers a question, presents actionable insights or automation. An example is to order new bearings for a piece of equipment based on the time since the last maintenance work or predefined thresholds for stock levels based on how critical that machinery is for productivity.

To reach the point of analytics that provide answers or predict a scenario, you need to have healthy master data. A health-check can identify issues, remedial action and possibly even lead to governance processes that optimise data health on an ongoing basis.

Further, data’s value also increases with every certainty it provides. Rather than relying on a ‘hunch’ or a gut feeling, decision-makers reduce risk associated with decision making by relying on data.

Data supports faster decision making, by eliminating indecision, improving business agility and employee satisfaction.

Healthy master data enables speedy and confident decision-making, plus freedom from indecision.

Data avoids political issues at a point of decision making; don’t let someone make a decision without evidence to back it up, and you have a happier, healthier team.

Almost everyone knows the saying, “you can manage what you can’t measure”. Data is the asset that helps you to measure traction to (or from) goals. More than that, if you’re using it for analytics, you can use it to either proactively identify an issue before it causes damage, or costs money, and even find the best evidence-based way to remedy the problem.

Master Data: Case Studies

Next: take a look at some further stories where organizations have enhanced the value of data to provide actionable insights that either save money, or generate more revenue.

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