Guest Blogger: Senior Director Privacy and Data Protection for Reed Elsevier
Keeping the information you hold relevant, compliant and fit for purpose
At legal and accountancy firms it’s absolutely vital to maximise the potential of your relationships, because the future success of a practice depends on them. In turn this means ensuring the data you hold is relevant and fit for purpose. So here are four tips for spring-cleaning your information.
1. Shred and destroy
Whether data is held electronically in a legal CRM software system or held physically in filing cabinets and archives, some of it will be redundant. For personal information that is no longer needed for a business purpose (and which is not subject to statutory retention periods), now is the time to identify and dispose of it securely, by shredding documents or using safe electronic data destruction techniques.
Where detailed data is no longer required but there is value in keeping it, for trend analysis or business performance tracking needs for example, consider de-personalising and aggregating it. This can reduce the amount of data held significantly, while allowing you to continue to gain benefits from it.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of storing and forgetting about data. Best practice firms develop a governance model that prioritises their data and sets review and retention times based on its usefulness. For example, retention times for prospect data may be significantly shorter than for customer data, while review periods may be longer.
In some cases, for example billing invoices or electronic logs that show customer transactions, it may initially be difficult to know how far back you may need to go in the event of a dispute. In such situations it’s probably better to err on the side of caution, set a longer period at the start and review it later. And let’s not forget regulatory requirements that dictate how long and what type of data you can keep will need to be taken into account.
For maximum efficiency look at automating the data review process. CRM systems like Lexis InterAction provide powerful data quality control tools that flag when data is modified, allowing data stewards to maintain control of data and ensure any changes made are appropriate. For example, if a client address is changed for one contact it is flagged so that changes can be made for all other contacts that are at the previous address.
Legal client relationship management systems and the data they contain are becoming the foundation for successful legal firms. Keeping the data in them relevant, compliant and fit for purpose is essential. Firms that create a governance model based on the four points above will have the accurate, up-to-date information they need to maximise the value of their client relationships.