22 Apr 4 keys to kicking off your data retention strategy
by Christian Tooley
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Myspace has already been on the decline for many years—essentially since the advent of Facebook. But last month was the icing on top of the cake for the once wildly popular social media site: Myspace lost all of the content data uploaded before 2016. That’s right—every incriminating photo, every drunken karaoke night video, and every cringeworthy self-made song that found a home on Myspace (and Myspace alone) is now gone.
While that may be a blessing for former Myspace members who have yet to clean up their internet presence, it showcases a major security issue for Myspace as a company. The biggest takeaway? This is what happens when an organization doesn’t have a clear data archiving and backup process.
You want to steer clear of the disaster of Myspace so that your organization both stores data safely and remains relevant—Myspace may have failed at both, but you can avoid that fate. To do so, you need a comprehensive data retention strategy. Here are four things to consider, brought straight to you from Simplus’ data integration practice, when putting together your Salesforce data archiving plan:
Control the quantity of data
Salesforce data space is precious, and gaining more data storage can add up to a lot of expense for your organization. What this means for your data retention strategy is that you want to not only consider the amount of data stored on the platform but also control when it’s present on the platform.
You want to always have data backups readily available, just in case something (cough cough, Myspace) happens. There are two main ways to do this: one, manually export data on a regular schedule, or two, create a strategy leveraging native Salesforce functionality to send data backups automatically. At Simplus, we recommend the latter for any situation. Setting up data backups through Salesforce automation means your data gets sent to a single server or data warehouse that stores your data. It also means you have less manual grunt work to worry about. We suggest backing up your Salesforce data weekly.
Monitor data relevance
In addition to weekly exports, it’s important to identify what data is relevant on the Salesforce platform. Many organizations want to keep all of the data possible on Salesforce. However, that’s not necessarily healthy. Doing so uses a ton of space (and with data, space equals money), and it’s also confusing for end users who have way too much irrelevant information to sort through.
At Simplus, we recommend that if a record hasn’t had any activity for a certain number of years, migrate that data off the platform. It’s easy enough to archive no longer relevant data and send it to the data warehouse for historical reporting purposes, so it’s important to have a clear data archive policy—and to enforce it well. Once a policy is established and sets forth a certain amount of time to keep data, data should then be archived after the number of years dictated in that policy. This keeps not only your data relevant but your team accountable for upholding that clean, relevant data.
Comply, comply, comply
It’s crucial that your data retention policy takes into account any and all applicable regulations. This will be different for each organization depending on the industry, location, and what regulatory bodies are governing data.
For example, some companies have a longer required timespan for keeping data due to the regulatory bodies governing them, industry-specific rules like HIPAA affect all health and life sciences organizations, and the new GDPR regulations are especially important for companies with international interests. Consult with your legal department to make sure your data plan is in line with these and any other relevant regulations.
Communicate the policy
Everything you’ve put together for your data retention strategy will mean nothing if it isn’t executed on. Once you’ve formalized and gotten approval on a comprehensive data plan, it’s essential that you communicate the plan and any changes that will affect end users’ day-to-day processes.
To do this, we recommend holding data training meetings for your team members, having responsive go-tos for your end users to ask any data questions, and potentially leveraging change management experts to ensure the new plan is adopted successfully. It’s one thing to send an email notice about the new plan—it’s another to make sure the new plan is followed by communicating clearly and regularly.
Your organization is only as good as its data. If you design your data and its retention strategy with these guidelines and an eye to the future, you can avoid the fate of MySpace and so many others—you can maintain control over your own data space.
Reach out to Simplus for more data integration tips and advisory services.
Christian Tooley is the Data Practice Director here at Simplus. He is a motivated and technical professional with expert knowledge of the SalesForce.com platform, Java and Apex Development Database, Web Services, Agile, Certified Scrum Master, Salesforce.com Certified Developer, Salesforce.com Technical Architect, and Application Lifecycle Management. Christian is recognized as a leader with strengths in both the Lightning UX and the Salesforce Platform.