Bridging the Gap: A Guide for Data Privacy Professionals to Communicate Effectively with IT and Engineering Teams
In the dynamic landscape of data privacy, the role of data privacy professionals like Data Protection Officers (DPOs) cannot be understated. These experts are the guardians of sensitive information, oftentimes solely responsible for ensuring that an organization's data practices align with regulatory requirements and ethical standards.
However, the challenge of compliance has only increased in recent years, bumping up against busy IT and engineering teams that have not traditionally emphasized data privacy in product design and development. Many organizations face the challenge of properly communicating compliance needs to staff outside the compliance team, which is why companies need to establish a new, healthier way to bridge the gap and ensure privacy and engineering teams communicate effectively and prioritize privacy in both projects and budgets.
While the collaboration between data privacy professionals and IT/engineering teams is crucial, there are often assumptions and misconceptions that can hinder effective communication between privacy professionals and IT engineers.
For most engineers, data privacy is not part of their engineering education, and the field is relatively new and constantly changing so that engineering teams do not have time to keep up with regulatory changes.
IT and engineering teams might assume that data privacy requirements are primarily bureaucratic hurdles that slow down innovation. By proxy, they might view privacy professionals as gatekeepers that are disconnected from the technical realities of their work.
On the other hand, privacy professionals might assume that technical teams don't care about privacy or lack the willingness to understand its complexities.
Bridge this gap by facilitating open conversations that address these misconceptions. Bring privacy professionals and technical teams together to exchange insights, challenges, and solutions.
Encourage privacy professionals to explain how their role goes beyond compliance, highlighting the role of privacy in building trust and maintaining a competitive edge. Similarly, provide IT and engineering teams with a deeper understanding of the intricacies of data privacy regulations and their implications.
By breaking down assumptions, both sides can recognize their shared goals. IT and engineering teams will understand that privacy is not just a hurdle but an essential aspect of innovation, while privacy professionals will appreciate the complexities of implementing privacy measures within technical projects and be more flexible in how they approach engineering with requests.
Data Mapping Enhances Operational Efficiency and Regulatory Compliance
Data discovery and mapping, often seen as compliance necessities, have significant technical benefits that directly impact IT and engineering teams. Imagine an e-commerce company with various databases, web applications, and customer management systems. Data privacy professionals can work with IT and engineering teams to identify where customer data is stored, how it's processed, and where potential vulnerabilities lie.
For IT teams, this means more efficient system maintenance. By having a clear understanding of the data flow, they can optimize data storage, reduce redundant data storage, and improve data retrieval times. Engineers can benefit by having a clearer picture of the data their systems handle, enabling them to design more efficient and effective solutions.
Data discovery and mapping also play a crucial role in complying with regulations like GDPR. Demonstrating compliance involves showing data authorities that you know where sensitive data is processed, stored, and transmitted.
Data Subject Requests (DSRs) Turn Compliance into Customer Trust
DSRs are more than just legal obligations; they present an opportunity to build trust with customers that are trying to reclaim their digital footprint. By highlighting the value of efficient DSR handling, privacy professionals can motivate technical teams to embrace these requests as opportunities to reinforce customer relationships rather than view them as compliance burdens.
When IT teams implement mechanisms to retrieve and present the requested data quickly, customers experience transparency and responsiveness. Optimizing databases for DSRs thus contributes to a seamless user experience that enhances customer trust and builds brand loyalty.
Get IT to Think Proactively with Privacy
Collaboration from the start of projects is key to integrating privacy concerns into IT projects. By involving IT and engineering teams from a project’s inception, you foster a stronger sense of ownership and a proactive approach to privacy.
For example if your team is building a customer-facing application, encourage IT to explore how incorporating privacy features such as data anonymization and encryption during the design phase enhances user trust and mitigates risks associated with data breaches. Beyond the technical side, this also gives IT teams the opportunity to talk openly about the ethical implications of the project.
Encouraging ideation among departments before engineers spend their time building a product or feature can prevent future challenges and technical debt, another way to ensure neither privacy professionals nor engineers feel like they’ve wasted time developing something that needs late-stage changes in the name of compliance.
Budget discussions can often be a stumbling block in implementing privacy measures. When advocating for budget allocation, present a clear ROI perspective and frame compliance as a proactive cost-saving measure rather than an expense.
For example, highlight how investing in robust data protection mechanisms can prevent data breaches and the resulting fines and legal repercussions, the combined damage of which can plague a brand for years.
A practical way of getting these points across is to share real-world scenarios where inadequate privacy measures resulted in negative outcomes. Discussing high-profile data breaches and what went wrong can drive home the importance of prioritizing privacy.
In the modern data-driven era, effective communication between data privacy professionals and IT & engineering teams is essential. Translating privacy concerns into tangible benefits for technical teams is essential to building a culture where privacy is more than just a requirement, but a fundamental aspect of successful, responsible data management.
By diving deeper into these critical areas–data discovery and mapping, DSR handling, aligning IT and privacy, etc.–leaders and companies empower teams to reach an understanding on the significance of everyone’s role in safeguarding data and building a brand in a world full of data privacy regulations.
As innovators at the forefront of the data privacy industry, the MineOS team is committed to supporting data privacy professionals in their mission to create a secure and compliant data environment. Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can assist you in achieving your privacy goals while aligning with your technical teams.