When we talk about hierarchies, we tend to think about the relationships between managers and their employees or direct reports.
This standard org chart - also known as a Level Hierarchy – provides a top, down and sideway (or flat-level) perspective of a company’s workforce. Provide additional, downward departmental views, and you’ve created an Alternative-Level Hierarchy.
In this simple example, there is one absolute parent (CEO) to two VPs who alternate as both parent and child.
But hierarchies can become quite complex, and capable of providing great value beyond the understanding of organizational, employee relationships. Indeed, hierarchical representations for business connections between customers, vendors, suppliers, products, services, assets and locations are essential.
Consider the potential relationships that must be accurately maintained for a successful, pharmaceutical account executive:
Here the relationships are clearly modeled. But what happens if a doctor retires from the AE’s territory, or a new drugstore location is added?
There are a number of Hierarchy Management tools which will support most, business-driven, hierarchical structuring requirements. Without a doubt, being able to model a complex array of parent/child relationships (possibly resulting in recursive and network recursive hierarchies, in addition to the previously mentioned, levels hierarchies), has good business value.
But, hierarchies should also be viewed as managing the relationships not only between people and physical properties, but also between the representative data items. Consequently, not only do we require flexible modeling, we must also be able to trust the intrinsic quality and accuracy of the data types being hierarchically displayed.
Multi-domain MDM (Master Data Management), provides a flexible, out-of-the-box modeling capability to manage these parent/ child relationships.
In addition to flexible modeling, however, there are three more pillars to successful hierarchy and data management in general:
1. Steward Ship Controls:
Hierarchy management should be an authorized and permission-based function delegated to appropriate subject matter experts within the selected MDM solution.
Hierarchies are live business documents and should have different versioning capabilities to draw upon, including archive snapshots, in-place snapshots and temporal versioning for forward scheduling and retirement.
Both versioning and the integrity of hierarchical data types should be supported through a well-formulated workflow process. Even the absence or misplacement of one business attribute, node or “leaf” (to borrow from the often use tree analogy), can seriously undermine a hierarchy’s usefulness.
To understand why hierarchy management may be the driver for your next MDM solution, please click here.