Earlier we covered the complex topic of globalisation and how firms might tackle the internationalisation of their data.  In this, the Golden Rules of International data management we’ll outline the ten things you must do in order to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Rule 1 – Have a clear understanding of what you’re going to use your data for in each country.

Audit the communication and reporting requirements in each country/language in which you operate.  This is best done as a matrix so you can determine where you’re likely to have multiple language issues.   The chances are you’ll find that the breadth of the problem is not as bad as you thought (i.e. not as many countries) but where there is a problem it’s a big issue.

Rule 2 – Understand what kinds of communication are needed for your different offices.

By getting a clear picture of the sorts of communication that are sent out from each of your offices you’ll be able to focus on those that require specific data management processes.  It may be, for example, that you have to start thinking about setting up separate lists for different combinations of language and marketing activity.

Rule 3 – Remember that this is not just about client facing needs

English is not the first language for all of your staff.   So you need to understand what the reporting requirements are and do these need to be in non English languages?  If the language of your firm is typically English is it necessary to translate everything into local languages?  It’s more likely to be the case that non-English speaking staff may record information (especially notes) in languages other than English and therefore it’s your English speaking staff that are likely to need help in translation.

Rule 4 – Match your data management resources to those offices with the most complex requirements.

Where you’ve identified that from a language perspective you have complex data management requirements then it makes sense to have de-centralised resources located in those offices.  However don’t forget the time zone and geographical perspectives.  If you locate all your data management resources 10 hours away from most of your users then you’re going to create a completely different set of problems.

Rule 5 – Make sure you have a clear set of data management processes.

For each office and contact or client audience you need to be very clear about who’s responsible for what.   You don’t want to end up falling over each other when it comes to keeping your data up to date.

Rule 6 – Make sure your strategy for capturing information about languages is well defined.

Just because someone is located in a country where they speak a particular language doesn’t mean that everyone in that country would expect to see communications in that language.   Make sure you understand what your clients’ expectations are and you have a clear process for recording their preferences.

Rule 7 – Understand the impact of what you’re doing on integration

CRM is not the only system that may be effected by the decisions you make.  So where your data is being used in other systems or where your system is being fed by others, make sure you’ve taken that into consideration in your audit.

Rule 8 – Don’t forget Outlook

The way in which people hold data in Outlook often differs from the CRM system.  It is possible to analyse at the Exchange level the likely extent of the challenge, so this is something you should do early on in your audit.

Rule 9 – Make sure you’ve identified the points at which your content becomes client facing.

Remember that in an electronic world this might be more extensive than you think with the increasing use of self-validation, deal rooms and portals, your data is being exposed in more and more places.

Rule 10 –  Be realistic about what you can achieve.

It’s much worse to set expectations of an “all singing all dancing” solution but then find you’re unable to deliver everything you’ve promised.    So start with your audit of the issues and then focus on each challenge one at a time.