Master Data Management Tips: Durable and Non-Durable Attributes

by | Mar 5, 2018 | Master Data Management

The term “golden record” is used to describe a master record that is made up of the best version of each attribute selected from contributing source systems. Durable attributes, like a social security number or date of birth, are not expected to change once identified. Attributes that can be expected to change over time such as address, credit terms or marital status are Non-Durable Attributes. Durable and non-durable attributes require different management techniques within the MDM Hub.

When a durable attribute changes it is an indication that something unexpected or unusual has occurred – and in the world of MDM, unexpected or unusual events typically give rise to some form of data steward intervention.

Let’s take an example of the change to a social security number (SSID) on a customer record. When the MDM hub receives the updated social security number it will flag the change because SSID is a durable attribute. The hub will route the change and supporting information via a data governance workflow to a data steward for further action. The data steward will have the responsibility to investigate, understand and manage the consequences of this correction. Perhaps, for example, the incorrect number was used in a credit check that should be redone. Or perhaps the change to SSID indicates a previously incorrect match between two customer records which could give rise to any number of adverse consequences.

When the unexpected occurs it often takes human intervention to resolve the downstream consequences of the change. The MDM Hub should be configured to trap unexpected changes to data and to gather all of the necessary information for a data steward to investigate and resolve the consequential issues arising from the change.

It’s a great practice to identify the “durability” each key master data attributes and to engage the business stakeholders in a discussion about the process they would follow if durable data changes.


Understanding the difference between changes to durable and non-durable attributes is a key design consideration for MDM. The intervention of a data steward will vary depending on the nature of the change and the durable attribute that has changed. Each durable attribute will be associated with its own remediation process, workflows and reporting.


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