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24 September 2019 5 min read

Spreadsheets may be hindering your GDPR compliance

If you look after the security of your business, you will already have been through the challenge of readying yourself for GDPR compliance. However, if your business manages stakeholder information, there may be a weak link in your chain of security in the form of spreadsheets.

Whilst storing marketing data and other opt-in information has been tackled by most companies to meet regulation, managing the sentiment behind stakeholder related information gathered from town hall meetings, questionnaires, online surveys and events can often find a home across multiple departments, devices without the necessary security protocols in place to give assurance to its security.

Spreadsheets carry risks

As you may know, using spreadsheets increases risk of data errors, duplication and mislaying information. A University study on corporate use of spreadsheets found that 94% of spreadsheets have errors, and that on average there is an error in one out of every 20 cells within a spreadsheet. On top of this, because spreadsheets lack controls, it is very easy for stakeholders’ views and feedback to be altered, even deleted permanently. This sort of activity could easily go undetected and creates a window for fraudulent behaviour both from within the business and from outside forces.

By relying on spreadsheets, word documents and various communication tools to meet data privacy regulations, it is virtually impossible to maintain this information and be compliant.

The two issues with spreadsheets

The issue is twofold – in the first instance, multiple copies of data may exist in the business which can be hard to control and update.

Secondly, to make updates and remain compliant, all of these versions need to be revised with the same information or else they will be out of sync. This represents an administrative burden.

As the controller of IT processes, you have a hard task your hands to try and encourage anyone managing stakeholder engagement in the business to come around to a new way of working – ideally, using Tractivity, software that’s specifically designed to capture and safely store stakeholder information.

Do you need to change?

Here are some questions to ask the business.

  • How many employees does the business have?
  • Does the existing method of stakeholder management always sync with other business processes and tools?
  • Does the existing method of stakeholder management provide state-of-the-art, actionable, and insightful reports?
  • Does the existing method of stakeholder management supercharge your processes?
  • Does the existing method of stakeholder management allow for easy and open transparency and communication across the whole business?

This is a good starting point for analysing if you have a problem.

When it’s time to look at how you go about fixing your broken links, it may be useful to press the fact that no business of any scale or professional standing can really find it acceptable for dozens, often hundreds or even thousands of stakeholder interactions to be filed and maintained by way of a loose assortment of shared drives, personal computers, filing cabinets and desk drawers alongside spreadsheets.

Getting business buy in

On an administrative level, you may need to reiterate that stakeholder engagement is not a static process; it is highly dynamic and evolves over time as requirements, perceptions and attitudes change. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, are very one dimensional and rigid.

As spreadsheets become more complex to keep up with changing demands, they in turn become harder to manage, and more likely to breakdown. Time and money are wasted trying to keep the process afloat.  At the same time, it is likely that within your business far too much time is spent wasted on repetitive tasks such as data mining and gathering reports as well as logging in and out of various systems. Using separate tools for stakeholder management and engagement creates an admin time sink.

We have a full business case document that will help you decide if Tractivity could be the solution that helps you meet compliance.

To request a copy, click here.