Data Management Strategy: No Longer a Nice-to-Have

The importance of organisational data is growing each year. As we move through 2023, a data management strategy has become a fundamental requirement (not a ‘nice to have’). Here’s why:  

What is a Data Management Strategy?  

A data management strategy is a roadmap to help your organisation use the data it collects effectively, efficiently, legally, and in a manner that helps it achieve its purposes.  

Data management involves collecting, storing, organising, protecting, verifying, and processing essential data. Your data management strategy then contemplates how to make the data available throughout your organisation in a way that is safe, streamlined, and shrewd.  

Defining Data Management 

Data management includes the following topics: 

Why Does your Organisation Need a Data Management Strategy? 

The effective, ethical, and compliant use of your organisation data is now critical to business operations and risk management.  

But the benefits of properly managed data are significant, too. Well-managed data can improve decision making, aid strategic planning, build trust, support compliance, and reduce redundancies. Poorly-managed data on the other hand can lead to your reputation deteriorating (and maybe you’ll even end up on TechCrunch’s list of poorly handled data breaches). 

Benefits of a Data Management Strategy

 Let’s dig into three of the key benefits your organisation will gain when it implements a (good) data management strategy:  

You are better placed to achieve your organisational purposes and objectives. 

When you implement a data management strategy, you will be forced to look at what data you’re collecting and why. You’ll consider what personal information you really need, what you’ll do with it, and how it relates to your organisational goals. By collecting only that information, you’re in the best position to achieve your purpose and objectives.  

An additional point here: Customers are becoming more aware of the value of their personal information. As a result, they’re also less likely to share personal data with organisations when the organisation is attempting to over-collect data. So, by collecting only the data you need, you’re less likely to repel potential customers or leads.  

Your organisational reputation will (likely) improve.  

Building on the last point, over-collecting data hurts your reputation. Data breaches can hurt your reputation too – especially if your organisation is exposed as having troves of data that it didn’t need and shouldn’t have stored. 

But implementing a data management strategy can also help your organisation improve its reputation (not just avoid or reduce the harm).   

You can reduce your costs and your risk.  

The less data your organisation holds, the less risk you carry in the event of a data breach. This is true in the context of personal information, which is what we commonly hear about following high-profile ransomware events or other data breaches. But, as we saw with the Volvo R&D hack in 2021, your organisation collects and stores plenty of other valuable information too.  

By reducing the amount of data you collect, store, and need to secure, you’re less likely to waste crucial resources on the data you’ve collected for collecting’s sake. And while you won’t necessarily reduce your risk of being targeted by online criminals, the reputational and financial damage is likely to be less severe.  

Other key benefits of data management include: 

  • It’s easier for employees to find and understand the information that they need to do their job. 
  • Staff can easily validate results or conclusions they may have. 
  • It provides the structure for information to be easily shared with others. 
  • It supports legal and regulatory compliance.

How To Create a Data Management Strategy 

A mature data management strategy involves the following key elements: 

  • Identify your key data assets and build a data inventory; 
  • Prepare data flow maps to cover the full life cycle of data assets as used by the different sections of your organisation; 
  • Establish a robust data governance program reporting to senior management and including ownership of data assets; 
  • Create data management policies and procedures; 
  • Roll out training and awareness programs for the data management program; 
  • Assess the maturity of your current data management program; 
  • Identify gaps between your current maturity and your target level of maturity; and 
  • Design a strategic roadmap to create a data management program or improve the maturity of your existing program. 

If your organisation needs help developing a robust and effective data management strategy, reach out. Our privacy team’s industry experience is complemented by extensive legal knowledge and a desire to assist our clients with high-quality practical advice. 

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Privacy, security and training. Jodie is one of Australia’s leading privacy and security experts and the Founder of Privacy 108 Consulting.