Ease Compliance Woes With Better Data Management Processes

Ben Thoren

This past May marked the one-year anniversary of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a data privacy regulation that has had a significant impact on the way enterprises process and store personal data. With this particular regulation and others like it being enacted across the globe, data privacy has become a mission critical priority. For sales organizations, this is particularly important since they typically collect large amounts of data – from information on account details, to new sales leads and targeted opportunities, to data that tracks sales success – and because failure to comply with the regulations means facing high-cost penalties such as litigation and fines that can reach up to four percent of annual global turnover or $22 million.

Navigating the ever-changing data privacy regulatory landscape can set organizations into a tail-spin if they do not have an automated process in place to discover, inventory and protect personal data. While this can seem burdensome, incorporating automated and efficient processes that clean, consolidate and even analyze data can turn a tedious situation into a competitive advantage.

Let’s explore some questions that the sales organization can ask to ensure better data management processes and compliance with data privacy regulations:

Where are the data vulnerabilities?

Before even thinking about compliance, sales organizations must first address the areas of the business that leave data mismanaged and vulnerable. For example, traditional manual data management processes are prone to human error and lack of visibility due to the time and level of effort needed to accurately track this information. This leaves organizational data at high risk for non-compliance and open to regulatory fines. That’s why companies should take inventory of the data it collects. Is it consolidated in a central location? Is it being checked for errors, duplicate entries and incomplete values? Do we have clear data governance processes in place and are they regularly communicated to our team? By asking these questions, the organization is able to get a clear picture of where their data management and compliance processes are falling short, enabling them to address any vulnerabilities in an efficient and effective way.

What are my current data capabilities?

Once areas of vulnerability are uncovered, organizations should assess its current data capabilities to see what systems are working, or where its capabilities are lacking. This enables them to see what is needed to ensure compliance. As an example, one regulatory requirement of GDPR is the right to be forgotten – giving consumers the right to request that their personal data be removed or deleted from an organization’s database. By comparing the current abilities of its legacy systems to what is needed to comply with this GDPR requirement, an organization can easily identify what needs to be changed or what new processes or technology need to be implemented to guarantee compliance.

Where should I invest in technology?

The most important part of data management – and a key to regulatory compliance – is giving data managers the ability to use one simple process to make it easier to track, measure and amend in the case of a customer request. Data managers can more effectively do their jobs if they are able to pull data from all sources – including sales performance management (SPM), CRM and HR systems – and centralize it all in one location to ensure data is clean, accurate and up-to-date. A critical component of GDPR requires organizations to keep detailed records of how customer data is used, if the customer provided consent to use their data, and/or if the customer requested that their data be deleted. Eliminating manual processes by implementing an integrated SPM, CRM and HR solution to automate and store data in one place that can be audited on a consistent basis will ensure such compliance. What’s more, adopting such processes enables sales leaders to make more informed strategic business decisions with cleaner, more accurate data that is easily accessible.

For sales organizations looking to make regulatory compliance a priority, automating the data management process is essential to reduce the risk of human-error. However, becoming a more responsible steward of personal data is not just about technology. Organizations must also have well-documented data management processes with built-in flexibility so that no matter the technology being used, or what regulation it is complying to, the organizations can be adaptive to new processes – especially since it appears  that data privacy regulations are in no danger of slowing down.   

Ben Thoren is director of strategic engagement at Optymyze, a worldwide provider of enterprise cloud applications and services for improving sales performance.