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What Happens During A Data Inventory?

September 2021
September 2021

When running a data inventory, you are trying to create a complete record of all the information resources that your company keeps. This task is vital to help you understand what kind of data your business is handling and identify ways to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Such data are typically stored in various servers, computers, databases, and the like. The ones that are reviewed are pieces of data vital to staff, partners, regulators, and more.

That being said, if you've never run data inventory before, you may not know how it works. If that's the case, you're in the right place. Today, we're going to talk about how data inventory works and what happens when one is taking place:

1. Set up Oversight Specialists

When carrying out any large-scale projects, it pays to have a leader of some sort to oversee the entire operation. As such, any data inventory effort will start by setting up and establishing oversight specialists. These specialists can be anyone like the Chief Data Officer or the like. However, note that the size of the authority will highly depend on the business' needs. Regardless, having such authority is essential to ensure everything is progressing smoothly and according to plan, which will be delved into in the next step.

2. Identify Data Inventory Scope

After an oversight authority has been established, it is now time to identify the data inventory scope and plan that goes along with it. In many cases, the plan and scope will consider many factors like what kind of information resources are available, which metadata needs to be considered, what direction the effort is aimed at, and the like. The oversight specialists will lay out such plans and scope, ensuring that every aspect of the data is considered.

3. Catalogue Data According to Plan

With the data slowly being inventoried, each information resource needs to be categorised accordingly. This can be done by asking liaisons in all offices to correctly depict the information resources in their areas of expertise, and representatives responsible for dealing with stock procedures are in contact. To add to this, data inventories are organised in such a way that is machine-intelligible. For example, it can be organised in a spreadsheet, CSV, and the like.

4. Run Quality Checks and Prioritise Data

Once everything has been inventoried, efforts to plan out the distribution of the recorded datasets in the stocks are carried out. Such distribution can be based on different strategies. For example, datasets can be distributed based on open interest and departmental needs or through explicit needs.


All in all, while the process of data inventory can be quite complex depending on the business, it still plays a vital role in any company. Companies can quickly identify any risks that need to be addressed to keep the business safe and sound from any possible security risks. It also enables companies to understand what kind of information is being gathered, what frameworks are used to collect said information, and how a company can distribute the data effectively and securely.

Scaramanga is a Swiss-based consulting firm specialising in data protection, information security, and compliance consulting. If you are looking for a data privacy consultancy to protect your company data, work with us today!