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Data Governance vs. Data Management

Jeff Gorball
3/24/16 4:10 PM

We’ve all heard the words data governance and data management, and we understand that we need these things, but what does it actually mean to say "we need programs" for these, and are they the same thing or different? I submit that a data management program encompasses data governance, but they are different and data governance comes first. It is a horse and cart situation – sequence matters. ThinkstockPhotos-474943223.jpg

A dictionary definition of ‘governance’ says that it is “the way that a city, company, etc., is controlled by the people who run it”. A definition of ‘management’ is “The act of managing” i.e “to have control of something”. The DMM Model refers to data governance as “the senior oversight… [for the]… effectiveness of data management”. Translated, these definitions mean that data governance is all about the objectives, criteria, standards, policies, processes, resources etc… that define the rules for how we expect our data-related activities to be guided. Clear indication that data governance is the horse – it must come first.

Once the governance direction and structure is put into place, we are then expected to manage our data activities accordingly. The DCAM reinforces this concept with its opening definition statement in the Data Management Program component; “Data governance is the backbone of a successful Data Management Program.”

In short then, our data management program is the all-encompassing set of activities, from definition of rules, etc, i.e. data governance, all the way through to our day-to-day direction and oversight of activities. Our data management program however must start with the work to define how we intend our data management activities to be guided and the method of governance that is right for our organization. We need that defined to guide the development of our overall data management program. We can see the steps involved with our data management program in the graphic below.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of firms that are simply "doing things".  There is no defined governance or stewardship structure or standards or criteria to guide expectations, so the management of the activities regularly fall short of goals. Some don’t even realize they need the governance or that their data management program is critically deficient.

What is the state of your program?  Do you know? Do you have a strategy to get to an effective data management program? An assessment to determine exactly what you have or don't have may be just what you need to start. 

*The DMM Model is owned and copyrighted by the CMMI Institute. The DCAM is owned and copyrighted by the EDM Council 

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