Data Governance vs Data Management: The Real Difference

Author: Jim Barker

The vocabulary conflict between data management and data governance is one that I have seen hundreds of times in my career, and there isn’t a need for it. I have found a simple way to handle this one. 


Years ago, I was sitting at a football (soccer stadium) in East London (Upton Park) with one of my former colleagues. He had moved on to start his own consulting company and of late, had been focused on blockchain, AI, and other noble pursuits. At the time, I was the Director of Data Management at Honeywell, leading the data team and facilitating the data governance council. I had developed nicknames in my efforts like Dr. Data, the Data Czar, and Dr. No. The bottom line was in the middle of both data governance and data management. 


From the conversation at Upton Park, we came up with the idea of the data coin, always using a Super Mario Coin to illustrate it. One side of the coin is data governance, and the other is data management. I have shared this idea with EDM Council, Gartner, and many companies in the throes of data governance. 


The data coin 

There are two sides to the data coin. One is data governance or the business-facing activities that make data work. Let me say that again — data governance is the set of activities that are necessary to be done to make data work that are very business involved. The work of data governance is not solely the work of IT.  


The other side of the coin is data management. This is the set of activities that IT teams are doing to support a data effort. It delves into the installation and management of various technologies that make up the data architecture. It also includes the implementation of audit tracking systems, managing budgets, and supporting data governance activities. 


The bottom line is that for data programs to be successful, any movement on the data governance (business) side needs to be done in coordination with data management (IT) activities. Organizations that try to do data governance without IT are in just as much peril as firms who try to dump the data governance function on IT. 


To be successful in data and in business, firms need to have a coordinated approach to data that uses the data coin. Collaboration, coordination, and execution empower organizations to be successful with data.


Get in touch with our team at Wavicle to take the next step in your data governance and management journey.