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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May 2018 as a part of data protection reform in Europe, but it also applies to those organizations operating outside of Europe that are selling their goods and services to customers and enterprises in Europe. In essence, all the major multinational companies in the world have to abide by GDPR compliance. Data elements that are protected include names, photos, physical addresses, and IP addresses, as well as data regarding ethnicity or sex.
In this data privacy era, companies face heavy fines and serious consequences for violating industry and legal standards—especially in the wake of GDPR; therefore, compliance has become a guiding principle for nearly every action a company takes. For industries like health care and finance, stringent rules and regulations are part of everyday functionality.
What is central to GDPR is a major focus on documentation and how companies demonstrate compliance. Understanding what data a company has, how it’s collected, what it is used for, and how long it is kept are necessary steps toward GDPR compliance.
While GDPR compliance can feel like a burdensome necessary evil, companies should try to think of it more as a business investment, providing them with the opportunity to focus on their data as a key competitive tool and business driver. Marketing and sales content is no exception.
The challenge is how to leverage your data for business growth while ensuring solid compliance with data privacy standards and internal policies. Here are some best practices to ensure your organization’s policies are not creating risk in the sales proposal process.
Understanding what data a company has, how it’s collected, what it is used for, and how long it is kept are necessary steps toward GDPR compliance.
Ensure Sound Content Tracking
Some organizations still track all their content manually, often in Excel spreadsheets or other internal databases. If this is how you track content, make sure you look for outdated or noncompliant information—or even just content that no longer fits current brand guidelines. Using old data can create opportunities for potential fines; it can also hurt your brand image by creating inconsistencies in tone—and give you a reputation for mishandling information during the sales process.
Create Audit Trails
Creating audit trails is especially important in highly regulated industries, such as financial services. Compliance and audit teams will need to see who reviewed the approved content, when, and what changes they made. Establishing clear audit trails helps ensure that all required parties have approved the content in question.
Create a Central Library of Stored Data
Tracking edits to content is important, but if those edited versions aren’t stored in a central, easy-to-navigate library, it can be challenging for your proposal teams to locate and leverage that content. Creating a library with all approved key messages, assets, and other responses can help your teams locate the important content they need and lessen the risk that they will use noncompliant or outdated information.
Establish Efficient Workflow
Working collaboratively on sales proposals can involve lots of moving parts. Make sure that all changes are tracked and logged even after they’re accepted and that the changes are reflected in the version of content that is available to the whole team. By streamlining your review cycles and providing detailed reports on content performance and usage, you can help your teams stay both compliant and effective.
As data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, continue to become strengthened and enforced globally in the wake of an increasingly data-driven world, compliance with data protection and approved use will become the focus. For proposal and sales teams on the front lines representing their companies, it’s crucial not only that the content they’re using is up to date, on brand, and on message, but also that it meets internal and external compliance requirements. Adherence to proven compliance standards can do more than help companies win the business; it can ensure safe and secure data within and beyond the corporate walls.
Jeffrey Weil, general manager, Upland Qvidian, is a recognized enterprise software executive with 20-plus years of experience building strong organizations and leading high-performance teams. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.