What’s the difference between data management and data governance?

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One of the major defining characteristics of modern businesses involves the use of data insights and proposed actions it can lead to. Some of the primary fields of organizing and understanding data include data management and data governance.

Laptop screen with information and codes

Many people use the terms “data management” and “data governance” interchangeably, though these two actions have very different meanings and goals. In this article, we will provide comprehensive definitions of these two terms so you can understand the key differences between these functions. In addition, we will explain how a Master of Science in Management Information Systems can help you learn more about these subjects.

Data management

Data management is a set of technologies that execute on various business policies and rules while contributing to the information- and compliance-based requirements of customers and shareholders.

To get a full grasp on the concept of data management, we will explore one major data management strategy: data security. This is a major priority for all B2B and B2C organizations that deal with confidential information. Even though many businesses consider the protection of data to a major priority, many don’t focus on how they are storing this data within the organization. Without a sophisticated practice of secure data storage, businesses might lose or duplicate information, causing increased downtime and decreased accuracy. Proper management of data means regulating the information that enters a database at any given time. The results of effective reporting and managing of data security include high levels of compliance and accuracy.

Businesses should not treat all information equally. They need the right individuals and tools to ensure accurate monitoring and management of data. Just as it is imperative to understand how businesses can use various pieces of data, it is essential that they know how this data was incorporated in the first place to meet compliance standards.

Data governance

A principal analyst at Forrester defines data governance as “a strategic business program that determines and prioritizes the financial benefit data brings to organizations as well as mitigates the business risk of poor data practices and quality.” Like many other business units, data governance has its share of standard core competencies. However, unlike other operations in an organization, this function orients toward data processes, planning, and performance.

SAS, a global leader in analytics, defined the major way data governance fails in many organizations. Some businesses view data governance as the primary way to organize data management projects and priorities. In order for a data governance strategy to work properly, business leaders should view this component as a framework, a major structure that breaks off into different parts or functions. Every business will have different primary initiatives to accomplish within its organization. That’s why creating a customized data governance framework can help organizations’ leaders develop action plans based on their business’s goals and pain points. Some of the functions that make up a data governance framework include:

  • Data quality measurement
  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • Cost minimization
  • Data security
  • Data warehousing

Data management vs. data governance: The major differences

Many professionals get these two terms confused, often using them as synonyms rather than as two separately functioning capabilities. One of the major differences between these two business functions is that data governance is a strategy, while data management is a practice. This means that in addition to creating a comprehensive data governance framework for the organization, business leaders must determine what data management practices they will use to meet their goals.

In addition, data governance is not controlled by technology, as data management is. Instead, businesses use technologies to support the major objectives and goals set forth by data governance plans.

Finally, it’s important to understand that data governance and management work alongside one another. A business operating at high functionality will not utilize one or the other; it will use both practices simultaneously and harmoniously.

Become an expert in data management and governance with a MSMIS from UAB

If you’d like to learn more about data management and governance, consider an online Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The MSMIS program can provide the insight you’ll need to perform the day-to-day functions in a data-driven organization. During your studies, you will take courses in a broad range of subjects, including business data communications, information systems, data science, and IT project management, among others. This program offers you the opportunity to specialize in cybersecurity management or IT management so you can gain proficiency in the cutting-edge data management and governance tools deployed in the modern workforce.

You can learn more about the management and governance of data in the core course IT Governance and Management. This can provide you will a working understanding of IT governance and will expose you to different IT governance frameworks you may approach in your career. In particular, you will take a specific focus on the IT Governance Institute’s COBIT framework, ITIL practices, and ISO standards. By looking at some of the most prevalent governance frameworks and determining how you might apply them in practice, you can gain an advanced understanding of how you might apply these strategies into your present or future workplace structure.

Learn more about how a master’s degree in management information systems, offered through the Collat School of Business, can enhance your existing career. Reach out to an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Reading:

7 Reasons the MS MIS Degree is Right For You

Career opportunities to consider with an MS MIS


Management Information Systems course catalog

Data Governance and Data Management Are Not Interchangeable by Forrester

What is Data Management? by NG Data

What’s the difference between data governance and data management? by SAS