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How to Build an Efficient Data Retention Program and Enforce Policies

The Data Retention Dilemma: How to Build an Efficient Data Retention Program and Enforce Policies

With exponentially rising data in this era of digitalization, companies struggle when it comes to storing and managing the data. Whether it’s healthcare, financial, hospitality, federal government, or the education industry, there is overall involvement of sensitive data assets that malicious hackers can steal. It’s no wonder that creating and enforcing a robust data retention policy is necessary to abolish security threats. However, with the ever-changing threat landscape and new data privacy regulations, it becomes difficult for organizations to implement correct retention policies.

Data retention is the continued storage of an organization’s data for operational use while ensuring adherence to the compliance laws and regulations concerning them. It is essentially a set of guidelines that describes what data will be archived, for how long, and what will happen after it. Establishing such a policy reduces the organization’s storage costs as it allows data and documents that are no longer needed to be deleted or moves the less-frequently accessed data to a different storage tier in an archive. It also organizes documents so they can be searched and accessed easily.

Reasons for Retaining Data

An organization needs to retain data for several different reasons. It can either be to comply with state and federal regulations or to provide the organization with the ability to recover critical business data in the event of a site-wide data loss. Some of the major reasons have been explained before: 

  • Regulatory Compliance– Many government laws and industry standards require retaining and protecting data, documents and files for specific lengths of time. Prominent regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, FATCA, GDPR, and ISO 27001 govern the developing and actualization of retention policies for the organization’s data. 
  • Internal Business Processes– Even though most data generated by business processes can be governed by the application itself, there is still an explicit need to cover it within a data retention program. This is done to ensure that this data is available in the organization’s base level storage and archiving procedures when the need for it arises. 
  • Litigation– Most organizations are bound by legal obligations to protect their data and documents that are likely to be relevant for future litigation. Once litigation has begun, they must also prevent the destruction of any information that is likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In case they fail to fulfill these obligations, they can be held accountable for obstruction of justice. 
  • Contracts– Most organizations get into legal agreements with their customers, vendors, and other third parties to retain documents, either for a specified period or for the duration of a contract. 
  • Backup & Archiving– Through efficient data retention policies, an organization can ensure proper data backup which can be helpful in the event of accidental data loss. Such policies make sure the right kind and right amount of data is backed up. The archived data is also managed through data retention policies. 

Data Retention Best Practices

  • Define the scope of the policy– First of all, the data retention policy should include a statement about its purpose and scope which describes the business reasons behind it. It should also mention the major legal and regulatory requirements, laws, and standards that must be met. 
  • Classify the data– Organizations must identify and classify data that must be retained for specific periods, followed by data whose destruction is mandated by the regulations. For healthcare companies, it could be patient names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and medical data. Similarly financial enterprises might want to classify PINs, credit scores, payment histories, or loan information.
  • Know your legal requirements– Because of the renewed focus on data privacy and complex data privacy regulations, organizations must assess these stringent laws in order to meet their data retention standards. In addition to international and national regulatory frameworks, organizations must also comply with contractual and business-related laws that dictate data retention schedules.
  • Specify how data will be retained and protected– Organizations must clearly outline the policies and procedures for retaining and protecting the data. This includes defining retention periods for each data category, the policies for protecting files, and determining steps for handling the data and files at the end of the required retention period. 
  • Delete data once it is no longer required– This is a critical best practice for data retention that is often overlooked by many organizations. Holding onto data longer than required by law or longer than needed for use can have various ramifications. These include increased threat of data breach, cluttered hardware and software, and additional compliance burden. Therefore data that no longer serves a purpose to the organization should be properly deleted.

With the exponentially rising pressure on enterprises to comply with their data retention policies, it’s important that they understand the role of archiving the data in their Salesforce system. It can not only help in reducing the storage costs and optimizing the performance but also can help in retaining the data for longer time periods. Here we introduce the #1 AppExchange data archival application, DataArchiva

DataArchiva is a flawless digital application that archives unused Salesforce data intelligently within the platform itself, at a native level in Salesforce’s big data based storage system called Big Objects. This compliance-ready, user-friendly, and highly scalable application can also manage a large volume of data without any hassle. 
By using DataArchiva, you can save more than 85% of your data storage costs as well as secure your data inside the Salesforce platform while allowing your compliance team to search any data at any time. It also ensures top-notch security, seamless accessibility, better CRM performance along with data governance. For more information, you can get in touch with us or get the app here.

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