Claudia Imhoff raises an important issue in her blog regarding the cleansing of data. When dealing with a data warehouse it is important for data to be validated before being loaded into the warehouse in order to remove any data quality problems (of course, ideally you would have a process to go back and fix the problems at source also). However, as she points out, in some cases e.g. for audit purposes, it is actually important to know what the original data actually was, not just a cleansed version. This issue gets at the heart of a vital issue surrounding master data, and neatly illustrates the difference between a master data repository and a data warehouse.
In MDM it is accepted (at least by those who have experience of real MDM projects) that master data will go through different versions before producing a “golden copy”, which would be suitable for putting into a data warehouse. A new marketing product hierarchy may have to go through several drafts and levels of sign-off before a new version is authorised and published, and the same is true of things like drafts of budget plans, which go through various iterations before a final version is agreed. This is quite apart from actual errors in data, which are all too common in operational systems. An MDM application should be able to mange the workflow of such processes, and have a repository that is capable of going back in time and tracking the various versions, not just the finished golden copy. A good MDM repository should allow you to track back through master data as it is “improved” over time, not just look at the golden copy. The golden copy only should be exported to the data warehouse, where data integrity is vital.
People working on data warehouse projects may not be aware of such compliance issues, as they usually care only about the finished state warehouse data. MDM projects should always be considering this issue, and your technology selection should reflect the need for your MDM technology to track versions of master data over time.