Data Governance vs Data Management: Key Differences

Do you know the differences between data governance and data management? Learn more about terms and their definitions in this handy guide.

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One of the defining characteristics of a successful business is the ability of its leaders to understand and use data to generate value for their employees and customers. With the unprecedented amount of data becoming available to businesses, it is important for them to use as much data as possible to gain a competitive advantage.

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When it comes to optimizing data for business use, certain data terms and functions are used somewhat interchangeably. Data management and data governance are examples, although the two data strategies serve distinct business purposes. In this article, we highlight what these terms mean, their importance, and some of their key similarities and differences.

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What is Data Management?

Data stewardship is the practice of collecting, organizing, protecting, sharing, and storing data so that it can be analyzed for business decisions. It helps improve data scalability, visibility, security, and reliability. With the vast amount of data available to organizations, it has become essential for organizations to use data management to generate maximum value from the data they have.

Although data management is generally considered the responsibility of an IT department, all business users play a key role in data quality efforts when they follow data management policies and procedures.

One of the major benefits of a well-designed data management system is that it eliminates siled subsystems in an organization and enables better data flow between business units. This contributes to the overall operational efficiency of the organization and enables more agile decision-making.

Data management is an overarching concept of data strategy that covers several more specialized data practices, including data architecture, data modeling, security, data governance, data catalogs, and more. Data management solutions are designed to manage increased volume of data, provide analytics tools, and meet compliance requirements.

What is Data Governance?

Data governance is a discipline of data management. It ensures that data is of high quality by making it secure, available, usable and consistent. One of the main goals of data governance is to create harmony between the data of different business units. Another goal is to ensure data is used properly through the implementation of data governance policies and procedures.

IT departments that are held accountable for data stewardship are typically responsible for targeted data governance efforts by default. But like data management as a whole, data governance isn’t the sole responsibility of IT. An organization may have different people or teams acting as data stewards in their organizational structure.

Although data governance requires stakeholders from different business units, an organization should always consider having dedicated teams and individuals with ultimate responsibility for data governance initiatives. Some companies have a chief data officer, data governance officer, data stewards, or data governance committee to direct data governance policies and practices.

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New regulatory compliance requirements, particularly related to data privacy requirements, are one of the main reasons why data governance has become increasingly important for organizations.

How is data governance different from data management?

The main difference between data governance and data management is that data governance is a specialization that comes under data management. Data governance helps define the procedures and policies for using and storing data. Data management is the overall framework within which these policies and procedures are executed and implemented alongside other important data initiatives.

Another key difference between these two terms is that data management is often controlled by technology and the right set of data management tools are in place. Although data governance relies somewhat on the tools used by data professionals, successful data governance focuses more on strategy and planning.

Do data governance and data management already work together?

Not only can data governance and data management work together, they must be used together to derive the most valuable business insights from data. For an organization to have an effective data management system, it must also have appropriate data governance policies and procedures to guide decisions and the use of data.

Data governance and management are essential components of an organizational data strategy. For these two functions to work together, it is important that leaders create a corporate culture in which stakeholders understand and value the power of accurate and ethical data.

Data governance can be seen as the blueprint for constructing a building, while data management is the construction of that building. The complete data management lifecycle is what helps drive business results for the organization.

Data governance tools are an important part of an organization’s data management technology stack. Learn about the best data governance tools here.

Helen D. Jessen