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Master Data Problems: Identifying, Preventing, and Resolving

by Jack Roberts for Blog Leave a comment
Master Data Problems: Identifying, Preventing, and Resolving

Master Data Problems: Identifying, Preventing, and Resolving

In today’s digital age, data is the lifeblood of businesses and organisations worldwide. Master data, in particular, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of various processes and systems. However, like any valuable asset, master data can be susceptible to problems that can hinder business operations. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the most common master data problems, how they occur, and, most importantly, how to prevent and resolve them.


Master data refers to a core set of data shared across an organisation, such as customer information, product data, employee records, and more. It serves as the foundation for crucial business decisions and operations. However, despite its importance, master data is not immune to issues that can lead to inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and even financial losses. Let’s explore these issues in detail:

Data Duplication

Data duplication is a pervasive issue that occurs when the same piece of information is stored multiple times in various systems or databases within an organisation. This redundancy can lead to confusion, inconsistencies, and wasted resources.

How it Occurs

Data duplication often arises due to:

  • Manual Entry Errors: When employees input data manually, they may inadvertently duplicate existing records.
  • System Integration Problems: Inadequate integration between systems can result in data being copied from one system to another.
  • Lack of Data Governance: Insufficient data governance policies and procedures can lead to uncontrolled data duplication.

Prevention and Resolution

To combat data duplication:

  • Implement Data Validation Rules: Enforce rules that prevent the creation of duplicate records during data entry.
  • Establish Data Governance Practices: Develop and enforce data governance policies to maintain data integrity.
  • Invest in Master Data Management (MDM) Solutions: MDM tools can identify and merge duplicate records.

Incomplete Data

Incomplete data is another common master data problem that occurs when essential information is missing from a dataset. This can hinder decision-making and analytics.

How it Occurs

Incomplete data can result from:

  • User Oversight: Employees may overlook certain data fields during data entry.
  • Legacy Systems: Older systems may not capture all the required data elements.
  • Data Migration Issues: During data migration, some information may be lost or left incomplete.

Prevention and Resolution

To address incomplete data:

Inaccurate Data

Inaccurate data is a critical issue that can have far-reaching consequences. It occurs when the data within a system is incorrect, outdated, or inconsistent.

How it Occurs

Inaccurate data can be attributed to:

Human Error: Data can be inaccurately entered or updated by employees.

External Changes: Information about customers or products may change, rendering existing data inaccurate.

Data Decay: Over time, data can become outdated and no longer reflect the current reality.

Prevention and Resolution

To combat inaccurate data:

Data Quality Checks: Implement automated data quality checks to identify inconsistencies and errors.

Regular Updates: Establish a schedule for updating and validating data.

Data Stewardship: Appoint data stewards responsible for data accuracy and integrity.

Lack of Data Governance

Lack of data governance is an overarching issue that can exacerbate other master data problems. It involves the absence of policies, standards, and processes for managing data.

How it Occurs

Lack of data governance can occur due to:

  • Organisational Neglect: Some organisations may not prioritise data governance.
  • Lack of Awareness: Employees may not be aware of the importance of data governance.
  • Complexity: Managing data across multiple systems can be challenging without a governance framework.

Prevention and Resolution

To establish effective data governance:

  • Define Data Ownership: Clearly designate who is responsible for each dataset.
  • Create Data Policies: Develop and communicate data governance policies and procedures.
  • Employee Training: Educate employees about the importance of data governance.


Master data problems are a formidable challenge that organisations must address to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and utility of their data. By identifying, preventing, and resolving these issues, businesses can harness the full potential of their master data to make informed decisions and drive growth.

Remember, mastering your master data is an ongoing process. By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can minimise the impact of these common problems and pave the way for data-driven success in your organisation.

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