4 Clear Benefits of a Strong Data Governance Policy

Sales and marketing teams are enthusiastic about data. They understand its importance and use it readily in their day-to-day activities. However, they are often more than happy for others—namely, people in the IT department—to manage how the data is collated, stored, and maintained.

In today’s digital age, the line between IT and other business functions is blurring fast. Data is now a company-wide asset that impacts sales and marketing, as well as HR, finance, customer service, and many other teams.

Having an effective data governance policy in place that your entire business can follow is crucial. Supported by the correct technology, the policy needs to involve every employee that comes into contact with your customers in one way or another. And once the policy is implemented, it is critical that your sales and marketing teams adhere to its requirements. Here are four benefits your business will enjoy as a result.

1. It eliminates data silos.

When individual employees accumulate data for themselves, it means that their colleagues are unable to access or use this potentially valuable information. These data silos cause untold issues. If, for example, marketing is unaware of where each lead is in the sales funnel, they’ll target leads with the wrong communications. If sales don’t know that a complaint is in process with customer services, they could aggravate the customer further with an ill-timed call.

A company-wide data policy ensures that data is shared across the organization. A centralized data governance system, like an ERP or a CRM system, is key. This will give your staff access to the all the relevant resources they need to succeed.

2. It encourages the sharing of insights.

IT is no longer solely responsible for data governance, and nor are your sales and marketing teams exclusively responsible for delivering the customer experience. Once again, different teams now need to share the burden of data—as well as the insights they receive from it.

This shared responsibility makes far more efficient use of company time and resources. As one team uses and analyzes data, their work could reveal insights that are incredibly relevant to another department.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

  • Your IT department uses insights from the marketing team to enhance the website’s usability, attract more relevant inquiries, and close more leads.
  • Your customer service department shares its findings with research and development to help them improve products based on customer feedback.
  • Your sales and marketing teams could work closely with your IT team to translate complex data into simple visual representations. These illustrative graphs and charts often identify important—yet all too easily missed—customer buying patterns.

In short: a strong data-centric culture that encourages information to be shared is much better for business.

3. It boosts collaboration and accountability

A major benefit of a comprehensive data governance policy is that it fosters greater accountability. A CRM system that is open and accessible to all users ensures maximum transparency. When any data is updated or deleted, everyone will know immediately and see who made the changes. A transparent system allows multiple users to see where, for example, errors have been recorded—or where certain rules for inputting or storing data haven’t been followed. This means that those with more experience can step in far quicker and assist those who need some instruction before more serious issues arise.

When data use and maintenance is governed by a standardized set of rules, it weeds out inefficiencies and boosts collaboration within departments and between departments. Should an error or inefficiency occur, then it’s very likely that the policy is not being adhered to by everyone in the company.

4. It keeps data clean.

The volume of data you store is immaterial—its relevance and usability are of far greater value than its quantity. The benefit of having everyone involved in the governance process is that everyone has a reason to keep the data in good shape.

This shared responsibility means that your data will be regularly cleansed, updated, and purged by all who use it. It can be something of a laborious process, but when information is kept up-to-date and relevant, companies are rewarded with a single source of true information. Time and money are not wasted on communicating with duplicate or dormant customers.

At the end of the day, an effective data policy is about finding and maintaining truthful information—and putting it to good use. Your sales and marketing teams already know that working with the best possible data is vital to achieving their targets. Now they need to work together to share the responsibility of looking after the data, as well as share all the insights they discover. 

A data governance policy will never be perfect, but it will encourage your teams to use company and customer information correctly. The sooner you implement the policy the better, as it will take your business a step closer to using and maintaining real and relevant data—and ensuring that everyone has access to it.

 Kevin McGirl is president of sales-i, which offers business intelligence software to simplify and improve the sales process.

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