Decision Framework: Whether you decide to build or buy an MDM solution, you must understand the capabilities required. If you buy a packaged MDM solution, then perform a needs requirement test; then evaluate MDM products on the basis of an objective set of criteria that are suitably tailored and weighted for the requirement. Organizations should perform a thorough requirements analysis and create an objective, weighted set of evaluation criteria before reviewing MDM products. This provides a firm foundation for gap analysis, as well as an objective rating of products. First, determine which problem you're trying to solve, which architectural style of MDM you require, and how the registry, coexistence and transaction hub styles map to your short- and long-term needs. Second, examine the key evaluation criteria, which include: • Data model — Should be able to manage any complex relationships and map to the master customer information requirements of the whole organization, not just selected areas. • Information quality — There should be well-integrated facilities for cleansing, matching, linking and identifying data from different sources. • Integration and synchronization — This will depend on middleware at a lower level, but the solution should support the bidirectional transfer of data between the central system and peripheral systems, if necessary. • Performance and scalability — Look for proof points of transaction and batch-processing capabilities. • Business services — More-mature implementations will want to use this criterion as the basis for SOA business applications. • Technology base — The product base should be mainstream application server and development environment technologies and standards. If you're thinking of building your own MDM solution, ensure that you understand the complexity of the challenge. Otherwise, you risk underestimating the scope, which will result in time and cost overruns. Action Item: Evaluate MDM products in line with a defined set of objective, customized criteria.