Notification Attributes

Not all changes to a master record are equal. Some changes to master data are so impactful to downstream systems that they warrant additional attention. By tagging certain attributes as Notification Attributes we can ensure that these high-impact changes are flagged for additional data governance in the MDM process.

By Martin Dunn



A defining characteristic of master data is that it can change over time. However, not all of the attributes on a master record can necessarily change (see durable and non-durable attributes), and not all changes to a master record have the same impact. In this article we discuss how to handle changes to those attributes we have classified as Notification attributes for which additional attention is required when changes are made.

The best way to illustrate how notification attributes can be used in an MDM process is to consider an example we encounter in the life sciences industry.

Change to Class of Trade


​In the pharmaceutical industry the Class of Trade (COT) for a given customer is used, amongst other things, to determine pricing and how pricing data is reported to the federal government. COT is also often used to determine sales compensation so changes to COT are certainly high-impact.

Customers of pharmaceutical manufacturers include pharmacies and hospitals which may change their COT classification as their businesses evolve. So while it is possible for an ambulatory care clinic to grow into an acute care hospital it is relatively infrequent.

When a change occurs to COT it is difficult for the MDM Hub to differentiate a correction from a valid update. An update to COT can be said to have causal uncertainty and therefore may warrant further scrutiny. The motivation for additional attention would depend upon the ramifications of a correction versus an update; in the case of COT the implications of previously incorrect regulatory reporting and/or compensation calculations would suggest a strong case for extra attention.

These three characteristics of changes to COT make this attribute a strong candidate for additional data steward attention. By making this field a notification attribute, the MDM can trap change to this field and workflow the necessary current and historic data to a data steward for validation. The data steward would then be responsible for:

  1. Validating that the change is correct
  2. Determining the impact of this change
  3. Communicating the impact to downstream stakeholders.

The MDM system becomes both the net to trap these occurrences and the workflow to manage the resolution. Over time an analysis of changes to notification attributes may reveal some interesting business process insights (see Business Process Improvements).



Not every change to master data warrants the attention of data stewards. The characteristics we look for in a notification attribute are high-impact, relatively infrequent changes and causal uncertainty with associated negative consequences if the previous data was incorrect.Using this set of criterion you can focus the attention of data stewards on the most pressing changes without overwhelming them with “noise”.

Martin Dunn


Martin Dunn was the co-founder of Delos Technology which developed the MDM technology marketed under the Siperian brand. The Delos MDM technology introduced many MDM concepts that are now widespread within the MDM discipline including a data steward console to adjudicate match results, opt-in synchronization, cell level delta detection and the concept of measuring trust.

Martin is now a partner with Gaine Solutions and continues to advance the techniques by which enterprise Master Data is managed.

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