By Emma Bowkett, CEO and President at Convertr
The recent announcement of the Data Reform Bill is one of the latest examples of data privacy laws becoming increasingly fragmented. Staying compliant with data and privacy regulations has been an ongoing challenge for sales and marketing teams for a while. Whether it’s providing information for an audit, integrating new technologies, or campaigns, or ensuring data protection and privacy regulations are followed, it is an intense and time-consuming process. On top of this, failure to be compliant or react quickly enough will lead to expensive fines and damaged reputations, greatly undermining business growth. Failing to meet privacy regulations is a boat no company wants to end up in, so businesses need to implement clear procedures. By following these five steps to manage personal data, sales and marketing teams can react at warp speed, to quickly complete regulatory checks and ensure compliance.
Make sure your team buys-in
Most marketing and sales teams will be very familiar with their policies for data regulation compliance; however, employee understanding is imperative. Ensuring your staff pay strict attention to compliance is one of the first steps to improving your process. If your employees don’t recognise the importance of compliance, then its irrelevant how much money you spend on software. Training your staff, whichever way you choose to do that, whether it be one on one sessions or group training, is the key to fortify your compliance process.
Make audit preparation a priority
To speed up the inevitable visit from an auditor, establishing an audit preparation policy is key. With the new regulations, you will be open any time to a surprise visit from an auditor, and even if your regulations are fool-proof and completely compliant, the audit process can be time consuming and stressful. To minimise distractions, create an audit preparation policy, and communicate to all data owners who will be expected to provide information, and outline what’s expected of them. This will allow you to maintain a clear view of any potential oversights or vulnerabilities that could lead to compliance violations or transgressions.
The power of automation
Nowadays, computers can do practically anything. Whilst this may be unnerving to some, it comes with its perks. Compliance laws are complicated and complex. It’s almost impossible to ensure your IT staff or anyone else involved knows every minute detail and nuance. Human error is a constant, however you can avoid it. Instead of using people, use software. Employing tools like AssetAware can help ensure compliance across your marketing and sales teams. By using dedicated software, you can eliminate the possibility of human error, streamline asset management, simplify audit preparation, and encourage your employees to take compliance seriously.
Limit employee access to data
Once again, human error can be the downfall of many things. Most data breaches or lapses in compliance are caused by human error – either someone is fully aware of the proper procedure, or they don’t understand the gravity of compliance, and are careless. Ensuring your team buys-in on your compliance process is beneficial here but removing the chance of human error is also key. Limiting employee access to data can take your security up to the next level. Decide internally who really needs to access personally identifiable information (PII) for a start, so you’re effectively vetting out human error. Then think about what processes should be in place for them to get it, and how their access is monitored. Ensuring that staff only have access to data that is necessary for them to complete their job will drastically lower the risk of mistakes and violations.
Protect your hardware and software
Last, but not least, passwords. It’s a universal struggle to create strong passwords. The time-old name of your pet isn’t going to cut it anymore. All equipment needs to be password protected, and all the passwords need to be different. If you struggle to monitor your passwords in a secure way, using tools such as LastPass can be really beneficial. You can grant temporary or permanent access to sensitive logins, monitor the quality of staff passwords, ensuring they’re using unique passwords, and enforce regular password changes. Password security also applies to former employees and external contractors. If somebody has an old password, then even the highest-level encryption won’t protect you.
Data compliance is no mean feat, and data regulations across borders only complicates things further. At the moment, there isn’t too much clarity on what the new Data Reform Bill is going to bring, and how it is going to change businesses’ strategies, however following these five steps can help your marketing and sales teams along the way to making compliance that little bit simpler.