The Five C’s of Data Management

The Five C’s of Data Management
The Five C’s of Data Management

A few days ago, I came across a post, 5 C’s of MDM (Case, Content, Connecting, Cleansing, and Controlling), by Peter Krensky, Sr. Research Associate, Aberdeen Group and this response by Alan Duncan with his 5 C’s (Communicate, Co-operate, Collaborate, Cajole and Coerce). I like Alan’s list much better. Even though I work for a product company specializing in information management technology, the secret to successful enterprise information management (EIM) is in tackling the business and organizational issues, not the technology challenges. Fundamentally, data management at the enterprise level is an agreement problem, not a technology problem.

So, here I go with my 5 C’s:


Culture is about deeply entrenched behaviors. Who’s fault is it that we have a data mess with inconsistent and fragmented data spread across multiple business functions across the enterprise?  The accountants!  More specifically, it’s the fault of silo-based metrics and the management perspective that if we decompose the enterprise and optimize each part then by definition the enterprise must be optimized.  Hogwash! You get what you measure.  If you hold each function accountable for their individual performance, you get dysfunctional behavior at the enterprise level. So to influence a culture, take a look at how the business, and people, are measured.


Data Management requires a big change from “my data” to “our data”. Just because you’re the business unit that first captures customer order data, it’s not your data.  And just because the order entry system allows you to complete the order, doesn’t mean that all the data is correct or complete for down-stream processes. The metrics I mentioned in the first C is one part of the solution, but more is needed. Every person in the end-to-end stream of work that contributes to customer service must understand not only their role in the process, but how their role impacts others. Every enterprise that is striving to improve the EIM capability must also treat it as an organizational change management program.


Do you have a capability model for your EIM functions?  In other words, do you have a list, and definition, of all the operational capabilities required across all business functions in order to perform effective information management?  The first step is to have a list that describes WHAT needs to be done.  Then, use the list to assess HOW it is done in each function.  Is it consistent across teams? Is it done by a business or IT user?  Is it manual or automated?  Are there standards and controls in place? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can define a target state operating model and a practical roadmap to get there.


It’s all about business!  Does EIM drive business value and improve growth, customer service or bottom-line profitability? Once you have an assessment of the improvements that could be achieved in each of the operational capabilities, the question is SO WHAT?  What is the business value and is it worth the investment in time and capital to get there?  If you can’t answer the “so what” question, your EIM initiative is not likely to have the necessary staying power.

Competency Center

OK, I cheated.  That brings the total to 6 C’s!  In any event, it is not sufficient to publish data standards, guidelines and best practices; enterprise data needs to be “managed” on an ongoing basis. While sales territories, assignments and hierarchies are determined by Sales, and the product catalog including categories and bundles is determined by Product Management, and the customer segments and relationships are determined by Marketing, you will have a mess unless they are coordinated. While the day-to-day data management activities MUST happen in the context-rich front-line of business operations, unless there is also an enterprise competency center for master data, reference data, business intelligence, metadata, data security and information life-cycle issues, the reactionary fire-fighting will continue and the value from information management will never be fully realized.

So with the two prior posts, this brings the list to 15 (or 16) C’s for Enterprise Information Management. While it’s a long list, it’s not rocket science.  It’s just hard work!