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Cross Functional Alignment and Accountability

Where do you position or place the Privacy function within your organization? Does it fall under Security or Data Analytics or Legal? How high up in the organization should this function report? Companies are trying different approaches and there is clearly no one solution that fits all companies. Jeff Jockisch and I had an interesting conversation about how to structure programs like privacy, security and the pros and cons of positioning them at different levels within the organization. Jay Cline has written about overlaps of different functions like Legal, Security, or data analytics with Privacy and has approached positioning the Privacy function based on the overlap. On the other hand, you also need to consider what the end customer impact might be when functions are grouped together – for instance, the State of Maryland in its newly released Data Strategy Plan has chosen to retain Privacy, Security, and Data as separate functions. The Maryland CISO, Chip Stewart has said that grouping data privacy under the umbrella of cybersecurity can create a scenario where data security is prioritized at the expense of usability.

These clearly are questions that can be answered only based on specific organizations' needs and constraints. However, it is clear areas like Privacy are very cross-functional. Irrespective of where Privacy sits, it's going to require expertise from many parts of the organization. And while there will be overlap across some of these functions, there are also very distinct differences.

Managing and stewarding data within organizations requires increased collaboration with many stakeholders. Data is a key focus for Analytics, Risk, Privacy, IT, and Security teams with each team holding critical pieces of the organization’s overall strategy around Data. Additionally, buy-in from other data-intensive parts of the organization like Marketing, Sales, Finance, and HR will be critical for programs to successfully manage and govern Data.

Cross-functional programs are particularly challenging to manage – especially on alignment and accountability amongst various stakeholders. Stakeholders need to understand exactly what each of these functions is responsible for, the work they are jointly responsible for and how all this connects to the strategic priorities of the organization. Everyone needs to be clear on why it matters and who is going to do what.

Tools that support cross-functional collaboration can help bring that golden handshake between these groups.

A good DataMap that is shared between these functions can bring clarity and visibility around the current state and help cross-functional teams articulate this both for themselves and to the rest of the organization.

When cross-functional teams are aligned and working towards a unified goal, you can see a true acceleration in the overall sustainability of these programs.


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