Although it has been around for many years, Data Governance is still described as an emerging data management discipline and there are still many inconsistent definitions of what it is and what it is not. So one of the most common questions that I get asked is:
Is Data Governance the same as Data Quality?
Well, the answer is a simple “no”. They are separate data management disciplines, although they are related:
Data quality is used to describe the degree to which data is accurate, complete, timely and consistent with business requirements rules; whereas data governance is about the exercise of authority, control and shared decision-making over the management of data assets. In practice, I prefer to say that data governance is about proactively managing your data, but the more formal definition above does give some direction as to how you may go about doing that.
Of course, sharing high-level definitions like this inevitably leads to another commonly asked question:
What is the relationship between Data Governance and Data Quality and do you need both?
Since data governance and data quality rely very much on each other, I usually describe the relationship between them as symbiotic, as their relationship is based on a mutual interdependence. Therefore my answer to the second part of the question is, of course, you need both! You would not want to do one without the other if you want to successfully manage and improve the quality of your data in a sustainable manner.
Sadly in my experience, many organisations do not yet fully understand that you do need to do both. Whilst you rarely (if ever) come across a company who is implementing a data governance framework without the intention to improve data quality, it is fairly common for organisations to commence data quality initiatives without implementing a data governance framework to support them. Sadly this leaves many data quality initiatives as merely tactical solutions which only have short-term results.
I hope that this post has helped clarify the relationship between data governance and data quality. Look out for my next blog when I will be talking about which data governance roles you need to make your data quality initiative successful.
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