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Misaligned or duplicate master data could be costing your business in more ways than one.

Having as much high-quality master data as possible is important for a business, providing it with incredible insights into everything from product design to customer behaviour. However, this data needs to be correct and unique, rather than simply being duplications or incorrect versions of master data. These inaccuracies can be severely damaging to a company in a variety of ways. Learn more about the dangers of duplicate and misaligned master data, how it costs a company and some of the steps a business can take to resolve these issues.

What does misaligned and duplicate master data mean?

Duplicate data is a relatively simple concept and means any data that an organisation has that is a duplicate of existing data rather than fresh data from a unique source in its own right. This can occur when someone copies data across and pastes it without deleting the original. Misaligned data differs slightly, and occurs when the data has one or more versions, such as those held on “backup” servers, that differ from one another. These issues can happen in a few circumstances, such as when a backup server loses its connection to the company’s main systems and does not save any changes made to the database as a result.

How misaligned master data is costing your business

There are several ways that misaligned data can cost your business, both financial and otherwise. Some of the most significant costs of poor data alignment include:

Regulatory issues

Regulations on user data differ in a range of countries, territories and regulatory environments. This is for a few reasons, primarily differing political views in a lot of countries, but there is general unification on some principles. Those principles include the right to adjust their data if it is incorrect. If changes in this data do not synchronise, then the company can be in serious trouble if someone double-checks that the changes went through.

Infrastructure strain

Having duplicate data can be a significant strain on your digital infrastructure. Every single file takes up more space, and having duplicate versions of these files can cause serious concerns for the available storage you have on your servers. Too many duplicates of files can lead you to have slower servers and hardware, reducing efficiency.

Financial costs

Both above issues are concerns in and of themselves, but they lead to financial worries too. Breaching regulations leads to significant fines for a company, and businesses that spend unnecessarily on their infrastructure are wasting money that could be spent in more important areas. Furthermore, cloud ERP’s like S/4HANA have data stored in the cloud. The cost of this is based on the amount of data stored. This means surplus or unusable data can increase the storage bill at the end of the month.

Staff challenges

Members of staff face a lot of stress because of data issues. They work less efficiently as they spend time looking for the accurate version of a piece of data, with some foregoing this and simply using the wrong information. This can ultimately lead to much poorer results with more inefficiencies introduced.

Solving master data misalignment

There are several steps that companies are taking in resolving their issues with master data misalignment, both through realignment of data and preventing these issues from occurring in the first place. Some of the solutions that companies consider are:

Data audits

One of the first things to do if a company has a lot of misalignment or duplication is to complete a data audit. This includes examining all the servers that a company has and looking for replicated files (also known as master data duplicate checks), deleting those that are unnecessary. Data audits also include manually fixing misalignments before resynchronising all versions of the data, bringing all the company’s information together.

Data Governance solutions

Data Governance solutions are becoming incredibly useful in the data remediation and master data governance solution space. These platforms provide users with specific permissions, so a company knows who makes each change and when in addition to setting firm workflow rules. Companies have far more control over their data processes in these cases, especially when they have a group of staff members that are highly trained and fully understand the system available to them.

Using rule-based algorithms, these solutions can now automatically identify duplicate data files or misaligned data sets within a database. This streamlines a data audit, which can be useful when migrating to S/4HANA or elsewhere.

Constant communication

Consistent communication and discussion in a company is a must, with the challenges of data making it even more so. By being in constant communication about the changes that you make to data and when you spot an issue, your team can resolve an issue as soon as possible. This makes fixing the issue as simple as possible and limits the time it takes to come to a solution. If communication fails in the traditional sense, it may be wise to investigate communication workshops like Lego Serious Play, which helps identify organisational problems by replacing talking with building the issue through metaphors.

The cost of misaligned master data

Whilst the cost of misalignment in your data can be large, this isn’t an issue for companies that understand and respond to those concerns. Build rigid master data governance processes and structures in your organisation to place yourself best for these concerns and you can eliminate any doubt the next time you open up a database and work with the information.