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Last Updated Date Jan 25, 2021 |

Implementing Hierarchy Manager

This Best Practice article provides information that implementers should review before beginning a Hierarchy Manager™ (HM) implementation project. Because every implementation is unique, neither this artricle (nor any other) can give exact, detailed instructions for each particular situation. This article:

  • defines the concepts required for Hierarchy Manager
  • outlines the methodology for implementing Hierarchy Manager
  • describes design patterns in terms of several common requirements
  • explains how to configure the Hierarchy Manager implementation

About Hierarchy Manager

Depending on the business need, customer relationship data is typically stored in a variety of different applications and data warehouses. This can make it difficult to view and manage customer relationship data. Each application has a well-defined hierarchy—such as customer-to-account, sales-to-account or product-to-sales—suited for operational purposes and often managed well by the application. Meanwhile, each data warehouse and data mart is designed to reflect relationships necessary for specific reporting purposes, such as sales by region by product over a specific period of time.

Different groups within the organization view a given customer in different and incomplete ways because the application they use has a limited view of the customer relationship and hierarchy information that is specific to that application. Each of these applications may also have conflicting information and semantics.

Hierarchy Manager delivers reliable and consolidated customer relationship views that enable organizations to navigate, analyze and manage relationships across multiple hierarchies from disparate applications and data sources.

Hierarchy Manager, part of Informatica MDM Hub, leverages the MDM Hub’s ability to provide the best version of truth from disparate data sources and applications. Hierarchy Manager permits gathering, visualizing, and managing relationships and hierarchies within the data set. With this powerful tool, it is possible to visualize relationships in the data and use this relationship information to more effectively cross-sell and up-sell into the existing customer base. These relationships allow the user to:

  • more strategically manage accounts
  • audit prospects
  • align territories more accurately
  • manage compensation more precisely
  • get a complete relationship view of a customer (e.g., a multi-generational family)

Note: Hierarchy Manager is a part of Informatica MDM Hub and is intended to be used with the MDM Hub. Hierarchy Manager requires certain MDM Hub capabilities, such as match and merge.

Before Implementing Hierarchy Manager

Hierarchy Manager is part of the Informatica MDM platform. Before implementing HM, install and configure the MDM Hub.

Before implementing the HM system, be familiar with MDM Hub and proficient in using the MDM Hub tools.

Defining Goals

Before designing the implementation, it is essential to define the goals of the HM implementation.

Determine:

  • what systems will be used as data sources
  • the data relationships to explore and manage
  • the hierarchies expected to define

Understanding the Data

Before starting the HM implementation, have a thorough understanding of the data being integrated. For example, it is necessary to know the source of the data, the data’s relative accuracy, structure, size, trends in the data, the amount of data, the expected growth of the dataset, the relationships between the data, and any characteristics that are peculiar to the data from each data source.

Assembling the Team

Also, determine the people who will fill the roles required for the HM implementation. Typically, these roles are:

  • Implementation Specialists—people whose expertise is in implementing applications.
  • Data Stewards— custodians of data quality. In HM terms, data stewards are the people responsible for maintaining relationship data on a regular and ongoing basis.
  • MDM HUB Administrators—IT people responsible for configuring or updating a Hub Store so that it provides the rules and functionality required by the data stewards.
  • Application Developers— developers that integrate the Hub Store into other applications, such as web or CRM applications.
  • DBAs— people who will maintain the database which is the basis of HM and the MDM HUB. Since HM is database-based, DBAs contribute significantly to the design phase of the project.

Determining Resources

Determine the implementation resources that will be available. These resources may include:

  • Message Queues
  • Hardware and Network Resources

About Implementing a Hierarchy Manager System

Implementing a Hierarchy Manager system is an iterative process. Since it is impossible to have all the necessary information at the beginning, information learned throughout the process will result in implementation modification. Implementing is a matter of designing, building, testing, modifying, and testing.

While every implementation is different, there is a series of steps to perform in every implementation:

  • Step 1: Analyze the Data.
  • Step 2: Build the Data Model.
  • Step 3: Configure the Hierarchy Manager Implementation.
  • Step 4: Load the Data.
  • Step 5: Test and Tune the System. Test the system to make sure it behaves according to the configured, individual needs.

Note: When implementing an MDM Hub system with the intent to also implement a Hierarchy Manager system, it is a good idea to implement the MDM Hub system with the Hierarchy Manager system in mind.

It is also possible to use the Informatica MDM Services Integration Framework (SIF) to write applications that use Hierarchy Manager functionality. To learn more about SIF, see the Informatica MDM Services Integration Framework Guide.

Step 1: Analyze the Data

As with the MDM Hub implementation, the first step in implementing a Hierarchy Manager system is to look closely at the data. The success of the implementation depends on the depth of understanding of the data.

Each of these steps requires the examination of the business requirements for each part of the Hierarchy Manager system. It is especially important to dig deeply into these requirements. Asking stakeholders why they want to do things the way they do is particularly effective as often there are different ways to achieve the same functionality. The added information about the stakeholder’s reasons will help choose the correct solution for the organization. Analyzing the data includes the following steps:

  1. Defining the Data Flow and Source Systems
  2. Determining Entities and Entity Types
  3. Determining Relationships and Relationship Types
  4. Determining Hierarchies and Hierarchy Types
  5. Creating a Sample Data Set for testing purposes

Defining the Data Flow and Source Systems

Determine the source systems that will feed data into Hierarchy Manager and the MDM Hub systems. It is essential to know exactly what data is coming from where.

Consider the following characteristics of each data set from each source:

  • type
  • quality
  • quantity
  • source
  • relationships between data from the same source
  • relationships to data from other sources
  • any other characteristics that are peculiar each data set

Determining the data flow provides the basis for correctly sizing the Hierarchy Manager implementation. When determining the correct size for the system, consider:

  • the quantity of data
  • the frequency of updates for that data within each source system
  • how often this data will be brought into Hierarchy Manager to update the master records

Determining Entities and Entity Types

The research into the business needs driving the Hierarchy Manager implementation and knowledge of the data set will result in a relatively small number of general types of relatable things.

When determining the different entity types, consider the relationships these entities are expected to have and what the hierarchies might look like. To learn more about entities and entity types, see the “Hierarchies” chapter in the Informatica MDM Configuration Guide.

Determining Relationships and Relationship Types

There must be a clear idea of the relationships to manage and explore with Hierarchy Manager. Knowing this sort of relationship data by no means precludes discovering additional, heretofore unknown relationships via the Hierarchy Manager tool. To learn more about relationships and relationship types, see the “Hierarchies” chapter in the Informatica MDM Configuration Guide.

Determining Hierarchies and Hierarchy Types

Once there is an idea of the entities and relationships necessary for the project, it is important to think about the hierarchies that will be built on that foundation. To learn more about hierarchies and hierarchy types, see the “Hierarchies” chapter in the Informatica MDM Configuration Guide.

Creating a Sample Data Set

Implementation of the Hierarchy Manager system requires iterations to tune and optimize the system. This is easily accomplished with a small, representative sample of the data. A good starting sample would include a few thousand records containing examples of each type of entity the system is expected to support. This sample data must also contain the various relationships the Hierarchy Manager system is expected to include. It is necessary to include sample data from each of the source systems. Naturally, the closer the sample data reflects the characteristics of the complete data set, the more useful it will be. For example, if this includes a customer database with a majority of customers in the United States, it would be beneficial to use data from just a few states.

Most of the testing will be done with this small test database. However, as the system moves closer to deployment, test the system with larger databases. To use the example of a customer database with mostly US addresses, try testing with data from three or four states initially, then progress to testing with data from ten states, and then twenty or twenty five.

Step 2: Build the Data Model

When familiar with the source systems, the data, the data flow, the entities, the relationships and the hierarchies, start designing and building the Hierarchy Manager data model. As with the entire implementation process, building the data model is iterative. Learning new information throughout the process of defining the model and testing will result in a data model modification.

Note: Hierarchy Manager uses a data model that expands the one used by the MDM Hub. It is assumed the user is familiar with the MDM Hub, its tools, and its data model.

Step 3: Configure the Hierarchy Manager Implementation

One of the primary features of Hierarchy Manager is its ability to help the user visualize the Hierarchy Manager data by specifying how that data is displayed.

Step 4: Load the Data

The next step is to load data in order to test the system. Based on these tests, it is possible to revise and tune the Hierarchy Manager implementation as necessary.

Step 5: Test and Tune the System

According to the configured, individual needs.

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