Why CDI Projects Fail

by Olga BelokurskayaMay 27, 2009

Customer data integration (CDI) projects demand transformation of people, process and technology. If just one area fails the entire project will be at risk.

Here are common pitfalls that may turn a CDI initiative into failure, according to SearchDataManagement.com:

  • Data model misfortunes
    Vendors usually promote those data models were designed to support their applications. They can’t offer flexibility around the data model. However, a predetermined data model, designed by an application vendor, can be a big reason for CDI failure.  Companies should look carefully at various data model approaches and options and choose those answering their needs.
  • Overarching architecture and technology issues
    While opinions again vary on the right technical and architectural approach, it’s clear that there is no “one size fits all” approach to CDI. A company’s existing systems, potential longer-term changes and specific business requirements all play a part in determining the correct technological approach for a given project. Issues of CDI system architecture, performance and scalability are all very important to consider up front, and flexibility is critical.
  • No plan (or budget) for long-term maintenance and extensibility
    CDI is not a one-shot deal. It’s an ongoing project. Early adopters of CDI, many of whom built their own in-house systems, are now looking toward commercial products. They have found out about the long-term costs and requirements of maintaining custom systems.
  • Lack of user adoption
    Education and training are extremely important parts of CDI implementation and must be a primary part of a CDI plan, not an afterthought. Many companies using CDI successfully recommended developing a corporate-wide marketing plan for a CDI project and associated data governance and data stewardship initiatives.
  • Not addressing data quality, governance and stewardship issues
    CDI projects without an associated enterprise-wide focus on data stewardship and data governance will fail, many attendees said, because the source of the data problems might not be addressed. Worse yet, if users discover data problems in the context of a CDI implementation and start to distrust the data in the system, the whole CDI project can fail due to skepticism leading to lack of user adoption.
  • Politics, pure and simple
    Underlying many CDI-challenge discussions was the issue of corporate politics. By definition, CDI projects can touch almost every department in an organization. Whether it’s the lack of enterprise-wide support, unrealistic timelines, inadequate budgets or data ownership issues, CDI project leaders must be social champions, as well as architectural experts. Data management can be a touchy issue, according to many attendees. Various divisions may feel that they own the data in their own systems and may be reticent to allow another system to access — much less change — what they consider to be their critical information.