5 Universal Tips to Manage Compliance and Achieve Strong Data Integrity

Are you analyzing data across your enterprise or in silos?

Paul SkordilisFebruary 2, 2017

Data is constantly in motion as transactions traverse your enterprise, but many organizations treat data integrity as simple checks and balances between two applications. This flawed approach is leading to gaps because individual points are being monitored rather than systems. Taking an enterprise systems approach to monitor and track data provides the foundation that supports data governance, as well as regulatory compliance mandates to achieve data quality.

In fact, regulatory bodies are increasingly putting weight behind their stipulations – teeth behind their claims that are placing fear in the minds of many companies worldwide. An Ernst & Young report discussed a specific case of this in the Indian pharmaceutical industry: the implementation of fines and product removal from market has spurred more businesses to take action to correct negligent practices surrounding data integrity.

Data integrity affects all industries – and poor data integrity can have disastrous impact. For pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, for instance, data integrity errors can even lead to loss of life – a drastic consequence of improper data management. And other industries are far from immune: compliance fines, tarnished brand image, failed audits, inaccurate financial and business reporting, and lost revenue can be regular occurrences based on bad data alone.

What key lessons can be learned from the realities of organizations dealing with compliance measures? If we peel back the distinctions between regulatory bodies, what remains? Despite differences, there are universal truths to data integrity all companies should take note of, implementing technology and processes to address areas for improvement. With compliance on the line and many other benefits to gain from accessing consistently accurate data, heed these tips for improved data integrity:

1. Undergo regular data integrity assessments to identify potential gaps

Awareness is the first step toward improved compliance: According to the report, one third of respondents hadn’t conducted an internal audit to test data integrity processes. And without regular check-ins, the consequences of poor data integrity compound, resulting in poor business decisions from bad data. Systems assessments help expose vulnerabilities where logic-based, automated business rules can replace semi-automated and manual processes to monitor the health of your data.

2. Be proactive

A company’s data integrity system can and should correct and improve processes for data in motion. Companies shouldn’t wait for a regulatory inspection to get their data quality measures up to par.

3. Remember secondary implications of poor data integrity

While regulatory compliance is top of mind for companies today, customer dissatisfaction is often an unintended consequence of decisions and outreach influenced by poor data. In some cases, this can lead to loss of business, even reputational issues. A price tag can’t be stamped on the cost of lost trust, but the long-term impact of declining customer satisfaction can be a hard hit over time – and should be a key factor in a company’s continued commitment to improved data integrity. Companies who understand this gain a strong competitive advantage in the market.

4. Prevent data integrity siloes

Data integrity efforts are often limited to certain parts of a business, creating disjointed or imbalanced standards across an organization. Data integrity ensures that data records are accurate, complete, attributable, legible, intact and maintained within their original context. As greater volumes of data exchange hands more frequently across increasingly complex systems, making sure data isn’t altered along the way is critical. Enterprise-wide end-to-end business rules monitor and track data to provide enterprise visibility, trending, and exception management that isn’t possible with silo-based data integrity efforts.

5. “Do as you say, and say as you do.”

The E&Y report references this phrase to reinforce the value of good data practices. Data integrity guides company information throughout its entire journey; with the right business rules monitoring data across a process, companies can say – with confidence – they are compliant. By tracking and flagging different activity, data integrity helps map out the step-by-step path of enterprise data, providing a stamp of assurance that demonstrates a company’s ability to identify and correct any issues with their data, when necessary.

Equipped with data integrity best practices, your company can be an industry gold-star in compliance, creating a foundation for the highest standards in data governance, as well. Making data a fourth pillar of your business strategy – as Ernst & Young suggests, as your most strategic asset – begins with data integrity at the core.