Master data management is one of those solutions that tends to be driven by IT. But take a look at what it can do, and it’s easy to see it can solve a lot of headaches for chief procurement officers.

Consider this actual example: You’re an automaker and the dealers only want alloy wheels. You get the catalog number wrong and wind up with regular wheels. Since the wheels come from Singapore, you can’t return the wheels and get alloy wheels without a significant loss of time and money. So you wind up paying the dealers to take autos with the regular wheels – all because of an incorrect number.

Another real example: The bin looks short on a particular O-ring. So you order more, unaware that you actually have several full bins of the exact same O-ring from different suppliers sitting unused less than 50 feet away.

Both of these procurement problems could be avoided with master data management (MDM).

Basically, MDM is a data integration and management tool. Since it’s built on a database, it can act as a searchable data repository, allowing you to put different divisions to share data. It can tie into your existing procurement and supply chain management solutions, providing these systems with “a single version” of your product data.It can be used to manage suppliers’ catalogs, your own catalog, and reduce errors in orders and other product-focused actions.

For retail suppliers, it’s increasingly important because of the Global Data Synchronization standard, according to Robe Rowe, Software AG’s senior marketing manager of MDM.

To learn more about how MDM can be used in procurement and the supply chain, check out B2B.com’s most recent article, “Control Stock Levels and Optimize Cost with Master Data Management.”