5 data management best practices for small businesses

Data is the greatest asset for modern organizations of any size, and data management is key in running organizations smoothly. Business data can also be one of the greatest risks when left unprotected or inadequately managed. As the volume of data within businesses grows, so do the challenges of protecting and managing it.

“Knowing where your data is, how to manage it, who owns it, who has privileges to see and use it and what resources to feed it with … has become even tougher,” writes Forbes’ Adrian Bridgwater.

For small organizations, establishing effective governance practices is especially critical. Threat actors are more likely to target smaller organizations. Small firms are also less likely to recover from the disastrous financial consequences of a cybersecurity incident. Sixty percent of small businesses fail within 6 months of a cyber attack.

Effective data management for small organizations isn’t limited to information security. You must practice data lifecycle management, employee education and other efforts.

Comprehensive data management best practices reduce business risks, create new business models, and streamline employee workflows. Read on to discover a framework and use cases for a smarter take on data.

Practice comprehensive data governance

You can’t protect your data if you can’t access it, and you can’t mine business intelligence from inaccurate data. Data governance aligns people, processes, policy and technology to discover data assets.

A recent industry survey by ObservePoint found that organizations glean many benefits from data governance. Thirty-four percent of organizations report that governance results in improved decision-making. Other benefits of formal data management include:

  • Data quality
  • Compliance with privacy regulations
  • Operational efficiency
  • Company revenue

Adopt cloud solutions

As your business’ most valuable asset, your data must be accessible, defensible and recoverable. Migrating to the cloud offers flexibility, scalability and end-to-end business visibility through cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Adopting a flexible, cloud-based core for enterprise resources planning allows for global access, unlimited scalability, automated updates and business continuity planning.

Develop a cybersecurity strategy

Small businesses at an elevated risk of cybercrime, but the relative costs of a data breach are also rising.

Firms that experience an incident can lose revenue, brand value and customer trust. They also pay legal fees and heightened insurance premiums. Protecting your employee and customer data requires a comprehensive and proactive cybersecurity stance against quickly evolving security threats.

Safeguard against insider threats

Your employees are your second greatest asset—and liability—after your data. Data leaks or losses from insider risks can be as costly as external threats. And insider risks can go undetected longer.

Teaching your employees cybersecurity best practices is critical for good data management. Providing employees with the least access possible can minimize the risk of errors.

Streamline operations

Effective data management for small business can reduce risks and improve quality. Moving to the cloud can also introduce access to an amazing suite of lightweight, integrated cloud apps for business process optimization. Time is money, and organizations can use business rules and data visibility to save time.

Several examples of how cloud apps can enhance productivity include but aren’t limited to:

Conclusion: Data management is a business opportunity

If you think you don’t need to focus on data management, you’re probably wrong. Every organization needs to put effective data governance at the forefront of its business strategy. Companies that effectively manage data have a competitive advantage.

As inside BigData writes, “organizations that have been able to adapt quickly to the demands of modern-day data management have created great opportunities to increase business value.”

Good data management involves knowing where your data is stored and who can access it. Moving to the cloud and adopting cloud-based ERP can pave the way for mobile apps and streamlined operations.


The beginner’s guide to cloud ERP

Keeping your company running smoothly is a big task. Each individual department needs to run effectively, and all departments need to interact efficiently with each other. Cloud ERP is an effective method of keeping all areas of your business running smoothly.

This one tool really can transform how your business operates.

What is ERP?

ERP is the acronym for “enterprise resource planning.”

ERP helps organize, oversee and manage all the individual processes that keep a company running effectively. This could include everything from human resources and finance to marketing and manufacturing.

ERP systems rely on a centralized database for keeping track of all the moving pieces. When used effectively, ERP enables better communication and collaboration.

How does ERP work?

ERP works by organizing and integrating a variety of data from several departments in your company. Traditional ERP software depends on a local server infrastructure. This would require an onsite server you’d have to manage and maintain.

The great thing about cloud ERP is that it’s just as effective as a legacy, onsite ERP, and it can work for a variety of industries. That includes finance, manufacturing, distributing and any other vertical that could benefit from ERP.

How does cloud ERP work?

Doing business in the cloud allows companies to harness unprecedented levels of flexibility and agility. In fact, a cloud-based application, like cloud EPR, give SMBs access to enterprise level technology.

Cloud ERP offers customers an entire system that can work more effectively in unison. Utilizing a cloud ERP has several advantages notable advantages when compared with an ERP housed in an onsite server. These include:

  • Less costly: Services are leased as needed instead of requiring an expensive upfront purchase that might include more options than you actually need. You won’t have to invest in the necessary hardware or hire a qualified technician for maintenance. This is ideal, especially if you have a small or mid-size company.
  • Increased security: Keeping data secure is crucial and requires expertise and advanced technology that most small companies simply can’t afford. This makes it critical to choose a vendor that has the ability to keep your data secure. When your sensitive company information is stored in a secure cloud ERP, you’re adding another layer of protection to your company’s cybersecurity plan.
  • Protection from disasters: Security doesn’t just mean protection from hackers. When you’re storing all your information onsite, you’re susceptible to fire, floods and power outages. Cloud ERP can be a crucial part of your disaster plan.
  • More flexibility: Your cloud ERP can be accessed anywhere there’s internet. You can work from a tablet, a laptop or your mobile phone. This makes collaboration with your entire team easier.
  • Easy implementation & access: When your ERP is in the cloud, it normally takes less time to implement the system. You also have access to all your data and business applications at all times.

How do you keep ERP working effectively?

While there are several advantages of using cloud ERP, there are a few challenges you’ll need to keep in mind.

Support, especially during the start-up phase, is crucial. You want to get things get off the ground smoothly. We advise including your managed IT services provider in the process right from the beginning. That ensures you have the support and guidance you need to make the most of cloud ERP.

4 tips for securing your enterprise resource planning software

In the Oscar-winning drama The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin are two Harvard college students working to create what is now the most widely used social networking site in the world: Facebook.

There’s a scene from the film where a crowd of students cheer on five nerdy guys furiously typing on computers. Zuckerberg looks on while Saverin approaches him, asking what’s going on.

“They have 10 minutes to get root access to a Python web server, expose its SSL encryption, and then intercept all traffic over its secure port.”

Saverin replies, “They’re hacking.”

Turns out, these five guys are participating in a “hackathon.” One where, according to the rules, they take a shot every 30 or so seconds.

To these students, hacking is a game. Something fun to do at a party. In the business world, it’s anything but.

The possibility of a cybercriminal breaching your business network and gaining access to sensitive company data is very real. And very serious.

One of the ways a hacker can do this is through your enterprise resource planning software. We’re here to help you prevent that from happening.

Why is ERP security important?

Enterprise resource planning software has the potential to give an overview of your entire company-wide operations, including everything from customer and financial relationships to personal data, HR information and intellectual property.

A data breach that includes ERP records would have sweeping impact. Productivity takes a hit, your reputation suffers, and revenue could easily dip. And if your business is subject to compliance regulations, you could be looking at hefty violation fines, too.

The key to avoiding these headaches is a robust network and application security designed specifically to protect all your data, including the information managed by your ERP solution.

Here are 4 tips to help you better secure your ERP software.

  1. Update, update, update.

Forgive the repetition, but this first tip is just that important. Update your network security and upgrade your application software to the most current release. Due to ERP’s integration into nearly every area of your company, a breach into one are of your network can expose your entire system to hackers.

Patching your system will protect against new malware threats and fix bugs. Plus, updates can introduce new software capabilities unavailable in previous versions.

Since enterprise resource planning software is massive, performing updates will take longer. Scheduling them outside of business hours will help you eliminate update-related downtime.

  1. Control user access.

If anyone in your company can access all the information in your ERP, then in the famous words of NASA Mission Control, “Houston, we have a problem.” Allowing every employee to see every module’s information is a security risk. And, depending on the data, a potential compliance violation.

“66% of data protection leaders admit that employees are the weakest link in an enterprise’s security posture.” – Ponemon Institute

To prevent internal attacks or accidental data removal, define permissions for different features in your ERP and require employees to frequently change their passwords. If an employee doesn’t need access to certain information to do their job, they shouldn’t have it. An experienced professional can help you set up these permissions.

  1. Train your employees.

Piggybacking onto our previous point, it’s essential to acknowledge that employees pose a substantial security risk, so be sure you take into consideration segregation of duties when allocating permissions. Sure, your staff means well. But humans, by nature, have a larger predisposition for error than machines.

“60% of respondents believe employees lack adequate knowledge of cybersecurity risks.” – Ponemon Institute

That’s why it’s critical to train your team on cybersecurity best practices. If your team knows how to spot and report unusual activity in your ERP, you can greatly reduce a cyberattack’s damage.

  1. Use active reporting.

Visibility is crucial. If an issue occurs, you’ll need to know where in order to resolve it. Real-time, internal reporting can help by letting you see problematic user activity as it happens and trace data quickly and efficiently. Run frequent audit reports in your most sensitive ERP modules.

For example, if users try to access data without the required permissions, you’ll know. Once you’re made aware, you can address the issue immediately, minimizing potential damage.

Securing your enterprise resource planning software.

Taking a preventative approach is always the best way to approach network and application security. While there’s not a universal solution, these tips should provide you with a solid foundation for securing the sensitive data in your ERP.

Related Blog: The Advantages of ERP for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses