Confidential Information

How we designate information as confidential and maintain this confidentiality is often overlooked. Yet confidential information needs two things: accessibility to those who need it and protection from those who don’t.

What Needs to Be Confidential?

I suggest that we work backwards in this process. That is, start with the assumption that every piece of company information is confidential and work from there. Then we can take each important area and decide who needs access to particular information. Here are a couple of examples.

Financial Statements

It should be clear that most of the time not every employee needs access to complete financial statements. Even some of the managers for particular areas may only need to have access to financial statement information that relates to their area of responsibility. A marketing manager may just need to see results for marketing expenditures and the results (like sales) of marketing projects. There may be no need for them to know the details of manufacturing or distribution operating results.

Payroll Data

Likewise, a person in the financial are who is consolidating budget data from multiple departments may not need to know confidential information for payroll. On the other hand, if this individual is charged with verifying the assumptions for the budget they may indeed need this access.

Who Needs It and Why?

The bottom line is that we essentially need to consider two things:

  1. Who really needs the information
  2. Why they need it

Unless we are careful in how we allow confidential information to be distributed we may experience problems such as unrest among employees over some perceived unfairness or even that a competitor may have obtained our most private and critical confidential information and will be able to take advantage of it.

Take some time to consider the available information for your company, both financial and non-financial. Then determine who needs what and why. Remember that information in the wrong hands can cause significant problems for your company.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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