Protect your data: why you need a cross-departmental team

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By: Lila Pigott | 1.8.19

We commonly work with organizations who want a 360-degree view of their constituents and look to Salesforce as a way to achieve that through consolidation of their data. Who wouldn’t? It’s the age-old request, people from the bottom to the top of organizations have been asking for this for years.

However, once we help these organizations get this setup, they then realize all that mass visibility into data makes them a little nervous. They realize they may not have processes in place to handle everyone seeing everything or most things. They typically want to set up structures to scale back what their staff can see or how to what they can do with the data.

Here’s where we advise creating a cross-departmental team to help following data governance best practices. Today we’d like to share this advice with you.

 

But first, what is data governance?

We love this explanation from Happiest Minds, a mindful IT company, “[Data Governance] is a set of processes, used by the stakeholders who use technology, to ensure that the important and critical data is managed and protected. Data Governance is required to ensure that an organization’s information assets are formally, properly, proactively, and efficiently managed throughout the enterprise to secure its trust & accountability.”

Essentially, anyone with critical data (such as donation, financial, or health information) should have data governance procedures for their users to ensure that data is handled securely and respectfully, with thought and care.

Want more? Here’s a Trailhead that we’ve found helpful.

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s dive into why you need a team to help create and maintain these procedures. But not just a team of IT staff, you’ll want this team to be formed of personnel from all departments that will touch this data.

 

Why you need a team for data governance

Data nerds wanted! Data can get messy if there are no policies in place for updating information or adding new data to your database.

If your organization is large enough, you’ll want a full team made up of staff from all departments involved to drive these policies and make the best decisions. Decisions now can affect the future of the quality your data, so implementing a seemingly easy update in the data might not actually be so harmless in the long run.

Let’s take a common example we run into with clients: a Salesforce admin receives a request for a new field from a colleague. The admin begins to think about where this field lives in Salesforce, what type of field it will be (checkbox, picklist, etc.), who should see it, and how it’s going to be used in reports. A request of an additional field may require a detailed conversation.

Yes, all this work may seem silly, but your data integrity is important!

With a cross-departmental team, you can feel more confident in your data and its accuracy now and later.

 

When you need a cross-departmental team for data governance

While you might need data governance best processes in place, you might not need a full cross-departmental team. Below we define when you are a good fit, or not, for a cross-departmental team.

Too Small: You have only one department accessing data.

Good Fit: You have two department accessing data (and maybe in different ways).

Perfect Fit: You have an IT dept (who might also be driving the technology change in your organization), two or more departments accessing data (and maybe in different ways), and some components of this data that will need to stay private from other users.

 

Who should be on your data governance cross-departmental team

First and foremost, it should not be all IT staffers. You will want someone from IT involved and someone who is involved with Salesforce. You’ll want the self-proclaimed “Data Nerd”. And you’ll need a mix of other colleagues from the various teams interacting with the data.

Next, consider adding in at least one person in a leadership position from any department that touches this data. You’ll want this person to have a good sense of how your technology supports your organization, is tech-savvy, and can help facilitate discussions. This person is key as a resource for getting decisions made about your data at the organizational leadership level.

Next, add end users who are “super users” from each department. You can spot a super user by their attitude around new technology. They are typically the ones who tinker with new tools, help their colleagues learn how to do something, and are generally enthusiastic and self-motivated about new technology. Additionally, for your team’s sake, you’ll want to look for super users who are process-oriented.

Finally, it can be very frustrating to have a technical conversation with people who are not technical. As technical discussions and decisions will the essence of this team, you will want to make sure the team is made up of people are comfortable with talking about technology, enthusiastic is even better.

 

Determining the team’s decisions making authority

First, when working with your organization to create this team, you’ll want to consider “Does the committee have authority to move something forward?” It’s not about simply can they make decisions, but whether or not are they allowed to for the whole organization. Maybe the answer is no for some or all things, and they must submit proposals with a solution to the overarching executive team.

Next, consider “Are they in a position to allocate budget?” If so, your executive team will have to give them a budget to work within or procedures to ask for a budget.

We know this can be tricky. Here’s how we’ve seen two organizations we worked with manage this creation:

Example 1: The organization created a cross-departmental team. They allowed the team to gather and evaluate all technology requests, such as “we want to change our quoting process” and “we want to improve the interface of our Salesforce”. The committee would meet to discuss and strategize how these requests should be handled. They then had a seat at the executive team’s monthly meeting to discuss approvals. The committee can inform what the need was and the executive team could decide if it was a priority and help get budget allocated for the idea.

Example 2: In another organization, they created a cross-departmental team that could gather all technology requests. But before they could spend too much time evaluating any of these requests they submitted the top ideas to the executive team. This allowed the executive team to help drive decision making, efficiency, and time management. After something was approved, the idea would move into a longer evaluation period and need an additional proposal from this team to the executive team.

 

Questions to help you create goals for the team

To form goals that will be useful for your organization and the team, you’ll want to walk through each of the following questions:

  • What will that team do? What will they not do?
    An answer to this question could be that the team will only evaluate requests that may touch other departments.
     
  • How will you track the team’s outcomes?
    Consider how requests will be archived. If a docket of items and proposals will be saved. And how and when approved proposals and their solutions will be evaluated.
     
  • What, when and how will they ask of our staff?
    Considering this can help create a process that will actually be used and effective. We also encourage an announcement to the full organization about this formation of a new team. Whether you are looking for participants or opening up the requests, keep staff informed.
     
  • How often will they meet?
    Dependant upon how complicated the project or influx their system build out it. It would be common to have them meet monthly. If there’s a large project this cadence could increase, or if there are no new requests meetings could be postponed.
     
  • What will proposals to the executive team need to include?
    We commonly encourage clients to ask their employees how an ideal scenario would work. This can help create a process that will actually be used and effective.

The answers to these questions can help you determine initial goals for this team.

 

Get to creating a team!

If you bring these guidelines to your colleagues you’ll be well on your way to breaking down data silos and creating better data governance processes. Now, your organization can get back to focusing on the bigger picture of using Salesforce to its fullest.

 

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