Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Information policy best practices 4: the Finance and Human Resources departments’ perspectives

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 13, 2013

This is my fourth installment to a series on the shaping and implementation of basic policy governing the collection, processing, storage, access and use, and deletion of information in a business, with its mix of public knowledge, and sensitive and confidential raw data and processed knowledge (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 457 and scattered following for Parts 1-3.)

I focused on the role played by Marketing and Communications in developing and implementing information policy in Part 3 of this series, and on the role that their leadership, certainly, would see themselves having in this process. To briefly recap some of the rationale for that, Marketing and Communications brings in and validates market intelligence data, often doing so at least in significant part through contractual agreements with specialist third-party providers. And they craft mission-supportive and enabling messages for both internal use within the organization and for facilitating sales and helping to effectively connect the organization to its outside marketplaces. I add to that and as a partial additional list of responsibilities held, the responsibility for creating and maintaining effective communications in the event that damage control is needed, where for example a manufacturing or selling business has to recall a faulty product. And I also add that Marketing and Communications specialists can be of real value in a wide range of critical communications contexts, and as proofreaders and editors to make sure content is clear and readable, and consistent with the overall message that the business seeks to convey. Press releases and other public-facing messages come immediately to mind in that context.

My point here is that this is a department that plays a wide range of crucially important roles in a business, all of which depend on access to and use of business intelligence and with that including sensitive and proprietary information as well as information for public release. My topic of focus for this series installment is the Finance Department, and I add Human Resources too. And at least generically, the same basic pattern for information policy involvement that holds for Marketing and Communications holds for these departments.

• Both collect and bring in crucial business intelligence into the organization so they also serve as business intelligence sources as well as users.
• In the case of Finance and Human Resources that gathered business intelligence consists almost entirely of highly sensitive, confidential information where allowed unauthorized or improper access or use could lead to legal action against the business.
• Both are required to function in accordance with the guidelines of outside regulatory agencies and law. Finance as a functional area in a business has been required to work within this type of overarching regulatory framework for a long time now, and certainly where organizing process frameworks such as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are being followed. But both of these departments face what at times amounts to a maze of regulatory requirements for the gathering, storage, use and disposal of information.
• And these regulatory law frameworks are in a state of flux for both, with the Finance department facing new regulatory law and new court interpretations of law already in place, with much of that resulting from the Great Recession and efforts to prevent a recurrence of it, as one aspect to what they have to adhere to,
• And Human Resources is facing increasing regulatory pressures to limit risk of loss of control over personally identifiable information that could be used for identity theft or violation of privacy protection laws.

As a basic risk management consideration, both of these departments see legitimate need to have significant voices in shaping overall information policy in the organization, so as to be able to function effectively while reducing risk of being caught out of compliance with legally required process standards.

I am going to continue this general discussion in a next series installment where I will delve into some of the information policy issues that arise for:

• Product development and production, sales and other aspects of the marketplace-facing business cycle,
• And their departmental and service level claims to their taking a significant role in shaping overall business information policy.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3. You can also find related material at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory.

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