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Process management versus data management

When it comes to storing and accessing information for an organization, there are several processes involved to help users get the data they need in a timely fashion. As one of the most valuable business assets, managing data and leveraging it to improve business operations is of paramount importance. As more and more business decisions become data-driven, organizations continue to place greater emphasis on effectively managing their data. Since most processes are now informed by data and constantly monitored, it’s easy to see how process management and data management go hand in hand. But has it always been that way? Not exactly.

Process management is the series of efforts surrounding business functions to improve performance and ultimately influence the bottom line. It is an ongoing activity to continually optimize processes by applying new skills, approaches, and tools. Data management, on the other hand, refers to the set of policies and processes used to control data, from entry to archival, across the entire organization. Since data management has emerged as a practice, it has had process management baked in. The practice of data management considers the specific processes needed to ensure that an organization has access to high quality and reliable data for all business needs. As data has become king in business planning and decision-making, process management has started to take data into consideration when determining the best approaches by which to run the business.

Data management emerged as a concept around the 80s due to technological advancements. Prior to that point, data was stored in so many different places that there was not much rhyme or reason to managing data. Each process that required certain pieces of information would dictate how and where that information was stored. With the development of random access processing, a single record could be stored in one location, and could be accessed by business users using random access disks. The argument about which was more important, process management or data management, soon arose, with valid points made in favor of both. Eventually, however, it seemed that the debate was settled: both, in fact, were important.

Though the debate was settled so long ago, it seems that some organizations still ignore how crucial data management is to their business success. There is no denying how critical each management approach is to overall business operations. Without adequate and effective processes, users are unable to utilize information to perform their job functions. Without quality data that is fit for purpose, it can be misused or lead to erroneous conclusions that poorly affect business performance. Data should be addressed across process management activities to help inform and refine processes. With the ability to use data to monitor real-time business performance, organizations today have unprecedented access to insights that can help shape how they operate. Good processes underlie good business, and good data underlies good processes.

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