The simple answer to this question is YES, you should!
Registration is easy
If you hold data about your contacts, customers, staff or anyone else you need to be registered with the Information Commissioners Office (www.ico.org.uk). It costs £35p.a. and the form takes 10 minutes to fill in.
The penalty for not being registered is a maximum fine of £5,000 – so don’t go there!
If you think you don’t need to be registered (you probably do actually), go to the website and take the five-minute test.
Where is your data?
So far, so easy. But beware Question 3 on the registration form: Do you transfer data outside the European Economic Area?
Before you say, Of course not! think about your CMS (contact management system) or CRM (customer relationship management) system. Where does it host the data? Many systems are U.S. based so hold the data outside the EEA.
What else should you do?
Take data security seriously. The Data Protection Act applies to you! The ICO can, and does, fine businesses for losing or misusing data. You can’t guard 100% against having your laptop stolen, but you can protect the data on it.
Many businesses only hold contact information but some have sensitive personal information. A therapist may make notes that the client would not like publicised or you may keep commercially sensitive information about a customer.
You have a duty to take care of your data, so:
• Use all the security features of your CRM/CMS;
• If you keep data in Excel, put a password on the file;
• Limit the number of people who have access to the data to those who need it. Do they need to see everything?
• Delete data if you don’t need it any longer (make sure it has really gone though).
A final thought
Anyone whose data you hold can ask to see it under the Freedom of Information Act, so be very careful about making personal comments or anything that you would be unhappy about sharing with the individual. You have been warned!
Susie Collings helps businesses to run better – creating a good foundation for higher profit margins, loyal customers and staff, winning new business, easily adapting to change and growing sustainably.
If you want to protect the data in your business or see how a CRM can help your business to be more effective and efficient – or discuss any of the points raised please call Susie on 0118 380 0545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org