Your business runs on data. How you collect, use, and store that data must follow laws and security standards to protect your business and your customers.
From collecting emails for a company newsletter to retaining critical client information at your CPA or law firm, data is, without a doubt, a central theme in every business. How we use, collect, store, and transfer that data falls into a category of IT management known as data governance.
Twenty years ago, data governance was not a high-profile topic that it is today. Companies collected, stored, and used data, but in a manner far less widespread and far less digital. Now, businesses face a growing need for better, standardized governance practices. Staying compliant with new and changing legislation, and protecting your data from security threats, all fall into the category of establishing an IT and data governance solution.
Establishing effective data governance at your firm requires a level of collaboration between executives, IT, and even across the company as a whole. A governance plan should begin with the acknowledgment of local and national laws and end with a standardized management plan that is understood and implemented by the entire firm.
The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) of British Columbia, and Canada’s national information protection act (PIPEDA), both establish data collection and use requirements for businesses and organizations. While the two acts have many similarities, it is up to each individual firm to establish compliance practices, ensuring they are following local and national regulations.
PIPA even influences a company’s cybersecurity practices—an element of data governance—by requiring that “An organization must protect personal information in its custody or under its control by making reasonable security arrangements to prevent unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification or disposal or similar risks.”
Staying on top of government regulations will help your firm build a foundation for its data governance plan. By starting with compliance, every task, role, and workflow will be geared toward maintaining the highest standard of data governance.
The next step in developing an effective data governance plan is to work with your IT department to understand and communicate the lifecycle of your data. How is data generated? Where is it stored? For how long? When and how is it destroyed? How is it transferred and what security risks exist in the storing and transfer of your data?
All of this and more will allow you to create an overarching understanding of your company’s data flow. From there, establish best practices at each stage of the lifecycle. This will give your organization more control over every piece of data that flows in and out of the company.
Now that you understand compliance as well as the flow of your data, it is time to align your IT best practices with the overall company goals and standards. Your IT team—whether outsourced or in-house—works hard to manage compliance and secure data. They are able to work more effectively when they fully understand the bigger vision of the company and how each piece of information is used.
Equally, your other departments and staff members can more efficiently comply with data governance when they understand the IT department’s vision—and process—for compliance.
Your data governance plan will continue to work effectively when it is implemented around a collaborative structure of roles, workflow, and management.
Data governance is a requirement for any business and is especially important for companies that work with critical personal data. A dependable and experienced IT team can help establish an effective working plan that will keep your company compliant and your data secure from day one. Compunet Infotech has been serving the Vancouver area for 30 years, offering IT support and management for firms across every industry, including accounting, legal, engineering, and architecture. Learn more about our data governance techniques and how we can help your firm build an effective plan to keep your data secure.
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