Will Master Data Management (MDM) work for PLM?

Will Master Data Management (MDM) work for PLM?

Lately, I’ve seen a potential for a growth in Master Data Management (MDM) initiatives. For those who don’t know MDM technologies are, I recommend you start with Wikipedia and check out the links of the MDM offering by IBM, Oracle and some other large IT vendors.



Looking at the broad range of PLM capabilities and needs, I noticed that some of them deal with non-transactional and released products, and referenced data. This released data is need by various departments in the organization. The ability to find relevant product data related to a specific design as well as to change things from the past is growing. With growth of regulations in today’s word, being able to track and discover designs in the vault is a real need that can provide fast ROI


So, can you figure out the math between having to access non-transactional product data and master data management technologies?. At first glance, this is something that can be validated and tested.

The following are some pros and cons for using MDM in the context of PLM:.


· Reliable infrastructure to manage a single source of information

· Ability to redistribute information across the organization

· Global data availability in the organization


· Expensive data transformation when you move data from design

· Not flexible for scenarios where back-reference to original data is needed.

· Data redundancy

What will be the future of MDM in the context of Product Development and Product lifecycle Management? Although there is some potential here, Master Data Management needs to adopt a flexible ability to play around various scenarios related to data referencing and data retention; I hardly see it being applied “as is” to product development today.

What is your opinion?


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  • François


    the challenges which are behind MDM are huge and frequent, so the growing number of IT offers, I think it began with SAP, but not sure. Behind that, there is what was called 10 years ago EAI, then web services, then SOA, and now mashups, or advanced search applications. It is the last chance tried by companies to reach the graal of uniqueness of data, where it fails into other applications, because of numerous reasons.

    The point is that there is a true need for users to access data located into several applications, and there may be duplicated data now and then depending on right IT architecture and user’s rigor putting the right data at the right place.

    For me the question is:
    do we organize (structure) the data in the different applications which are available, possibly MDM, eliminating overlap and redundancies, introduce references to data outside,…
    do we accept that there will ever be redundant data, bad localization of data, domain overlaps, application overlap, lack of user’s rigor, not enough money in the company to have a position for Enterprise Data manager, and then set-up an advanced search application on top of existing application

    The first proposal is my favorite, but as well the more expensive one, as it requires to draw a fine grain application data map.
    The second is the one I am currently implementing…

    I guess that both approachs can help each other.

  • Mark, The first approach you mentioned, in my view, is mainstream of most of PLM implementation. I think, this approach is more about centralization of data and not about uniqueness. With MDM approach transactional data span across organization and Master keeps centralized unique data for reference. Advanced search, you mentioned, in the end will create replicas of data in different way and techniques that will serve as central reference location. What is the difference in this case? Best regards, Oleg.

  • François

    The first approach aims to fully structure data, ie define master application for each single data. So the data is displayed and maintained in the same application, and the “index” structure is built manually.
    In the second approach, you “simply” say that the data that you are looking for may be located in different locations. The search application aims only to display data, while the maintenance has to be done in the source application. Looking for jt files for example, one may be found in the PDM application, while another time an other one can be found in a shareplace, because one project team decided to not use the pdm application, but a simple file repository. Sorry, you may think this behaviour is strange, and in fact I agree with you, but some people/organizations/companies are like that.
    First approach is supported by organizations that want to control everything, and dream about a complex IT system which is fully mastered, and with smart comunication architecture. As companies are growing, it is simply impossible to master everything. And beleave me, I am sad about it. Nevertheless it opens a way for new types of applications like google, exalead, coveo. I will see what will go out of this soon.

  • François, what you mentioning as a second approach is sort of federated solution that can mostly view data from other application. In this case, people are using original applications, but one federated app assembly data to view it. Federation and enterprise search (these are companies you mentioned – exalead, coveo) can be alternative to MDM. I never seen such architecture working in production. Do you? — cheers, oleg.

  • François


    No, I have not seen this kind of application in production yet;-)

    I will keep you posted about the result of a PoC I am currently leading, using COVEO.

    Best regards

  • Krithi


    Interesting topic.

    Is there a real life business example where PLM and MDM are syncronised to achieve effciiencies?


  • Krithi, Thanks for you comment and welcome on plmtwine! I’m not aware about PLM and MDM snchronization. I assume for most of the organization they are un-linked. MDM perceived as something “big” and enterprise oriented. The same organization may have one of more PLM systems at the same time. Best, Oleg

  • Pingback: PLM and MDM – How to start right? « Daily PLM Think Tank Blog()

  • InsidePLM GmbH

    Oleg, Francois,
    I stumbled over this discussion and wonder what your opinion is regarding this concept below.
    Oleg had some informal discussions with this company before this post was published.
    Here is the link.. and let me know what you think if this would be the solution to the various MDM challenge.