Data Libraries – the Secret Sauce to Regulatory Environments

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In the modern, data-driven world, organizations face the immense challenge of managing and utilizing vast amounts of data effectively, especially when making critical decisions about their regulatory framework. And when you factor in how organizations operate in a regulatory environment, a good data repository is even more important, as regulatory information is often scattered across various sources, making it difficult to have a centralized view of all relevant regulations. This can lead to confusion, duplication of efforts, and compliance gaps.

Data silos can wreak havoc not only on the decision-making process, but also on the ability to enact regulatory compliance. The threat of data duplication and inability to scale are the most prevalent menaces associated with data silos. And suspect data leads to regulatory compliance issues, such as unwittingly violating GDRP regulations, which can, in turn, lead to fines and other legal complications. It seems so simple, but well-managed data organization really does save organizations from time-consuming, expensive and risky issues. By harnessing the power of a good data library, organizations can streamline data management, ensure compliance, and drive informed decision-making. 

Here are three tips to getting the most out of a data library:

A centralized library gives everyone a shared, single point of reliable truth.

Your data library acts as a comprehensive inventory, allowing you to understand what data you possess, where it resides, and how it is used. From an automation perspective, there are two types of data libraries: informational and operational. 

  • Informational libraries contain lists of cataloged items, including controls or risks. 
  • Operational libraries apply instructions on how to perform certain tasks and standardize your processes. For example, you may have to test your firewall controls every five months, which means every five months, a test record gets created from that data library record. Because an operational data library is consistent and repeatable, an organization can prove standardization. Organizations can validate the process and gain efficiencies. 

Both types of data libraries are essential and work together in an automated system to better control operational outcomes and help the entire organization realize efficiencies.

Reduce data redundancy, and you’ll save storage and processing costs.

A well-structured data library empowers organizations to make confident, data-driven decisions. By understanding the data they possess and its relevance to business processes, companies can optimize resource allocation, improve operational efficiency, and gain a competitive advantage. 

How so? We know that cloud storage costs continue to rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index (PPI) for January 2024 reported a 0.6% month-over-month increase in data processing and related services, a category that includes cloud computing. And the year-over-year uptick stands at 3.7%. Organizations that can cut back on cloud spend by eliminating data redundancies will save their organizations thousands of dollars over the long term. 

Mapping your data can help you reduce the risk of non-compliance fines.

While there isn’t a specific framework or regulation that requires a data library, data protection and privacy regulations certainly emphasize the importance of good data governance and clear classification. Having a well-organized inventory of data types, assets, and data-flow activities will undoubtedly help with regulatory compliance, data governance, and a multitude of other GRC practices. Organizations that use data libraries to map data assets to specific regulations are ensuring their organizations are adhering to and simplifying the audit process. 

For example, organizations should look to build a compliance evidence locker. An evidence locker creates a central source of documentation that proves an organization follows regulatory requirements. It allows internal and external auditors to access relevant information, streamlining the audit process and ensuring transparency. 

A compliance evidence locker should include:

  • documentation of policies
  • evidence of satisfying controls
  • incident management records
  • evidence of monitoring auditing activities
  • documentation of third-party assessments

This kind of data library allows organizations to map all regulatory compliance data and activity records in one, connected place, which not only saves time during the auditing process but also provides easy visibility of missing or unapproved items for remediation before an audit.

By proactively organizing and intentionally managing your data in an automated library, you can more easily ensure regulatory compliance—even in the midst of regulatory change—and mitigate risks associated with data management. Organizations that take the time to create these central repositories have an advantage not just with monitoring operational activities and accurate information, but they will also save their organizations time and money. 

About the Author

Ryan Lougheed has over twelve years of experience in the Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) field  and serves as Director, Platform Management at Onspring, a SaaS GRC platform and business process automation platform.

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