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Which GDPR product is right for your organisation?

June 2021
June 2021

The rapid growth in the GDPR services marketing, now valued at 1183.2 million and climbing (Mordor Intelligence, 2021), means businesses looking to improve their company compliance have never had more access to different market options for GDPR tools, experts and knowledge.

Such a vast choice is of course daunting, and many organisations are finding themselves torn between choosing compliance software, onboarding a GDPR consultant or adopting a robust combination of the two. If you’re struggling to make a call on which GDPR product is right for your business, you’re not alone.

But what should you consider before making a decision on whether to invest in a consultant or a software-based solution? Our team have broken it down into three key areas:

  1. The extent of your in-house knowledge and expertise
  2. The scope of your project and operations
  3. The sensitivity of your data

With these in mind, our team analyse how you can assess your organisation’s needs for either a consultant or a software-based approach.

The extent of your in-house knowledge and expertise

This is perhaps the most important element to consider, as many issues or errors relating data protection and processes have a human factor. For many organisation’s hiring a full-time compliance and data protection specialist is not needed, and not feasible. However, this does not mean that the requirements raised by data protection should be neglected.

An easy way to assess your organisation is to consider your current GDPR processes and compliance roadmap (if you have one). How confident is your current team in managing and following your internal processes? Are they capable and confident, or would they benefit from the expertise of an external compliance specialist or consultant? If they feel comfortable, then the likelihood is that you will not need an external specialist, but would most likely benefit from a compliance solution to help manage their processes and retain a 360º view of all compliance element within the business. For example, our own Data Protection Management Solution offer, delivered in partnership with Raptor Compliance, allows your GDPR leads to spend less time manually completing compliance-related tasks like report creation and delivery to management that can now be handled automatically via the dashboard. Instead, freeing them up for more high-value tasks such as risk assessments and internal learning and development.

On the other hand, however, if your team does not feel confident in their abilities to follow current policies and procedures, or perhaps have hesitation in future project developments, such as potential third-party data transfers (particularly prevalent given the recent decision on the EU-US Data Privacy Shield), then the likelihood is that your team and organisation would benefit from external expertise from a specialist. This would allow you to feel secure knowing that your organisation is safeguarded from any future risks to both personal data you collect and process, but also your reputation that could be damaged by any data protection incidents.

The scope of your project and operations

When considering between a consultant or a software-based solution, a second important factor you must consider within your organisation is how large the scope of your data processing activities currently are, and whether this is likely to grow in the coming few years.

For example, if your data protection policies and procedures are already well entrenched within your organisation and followed by employees and contractors alike, or you are starting out with a small volume of data, then the likelihood is that you would not require the services of an external compliance specialist. However, your team would likely find value in a compliance software-based solution to help manage and oversee your data processing activities, with the help of an internal project lead. A software-based solution would help your team map data efficiently and keep a 360º overview of processes in your organisation building a strong foundation of best practice amongst your team.

If your project’s scope is larger, perhaps involving overseas transfers, or you haven’t started mapping yet and feel overwhelmed by the volume of data or the complexity of the processes, then we would recommend getting external help from a specialist. Not only would a compliance specialist help create a robust set of policies of procedures for your organisation, but they would also be able to determine the best time to implement a software-based solution to ensure you maximise your ROI from any investments.

The sensitivity of your data

Regardless of the sensitivity of the personal data your organisation, it all needs protecting. However, it is true to say that the more sensitive the data the more it needs safeguarding and that means a higher investment in products and services to meet the GDPR requirements.

But how does this translate into a decision between a consultant or a software-based solution?

Consider this example, if you are operating in a highly sensitive sector such as pharmaceuticals, medicine, banking or legal then the likelihood is you will be handling highly sensitive data that in the case of a potential breach, would be incredibly damaging. Quite simply, the higher the potential damage and risk to your organisation the more likely it is that you would need the services and expertise of a compliance specialist. In the case of these sectors, it would make most sense to combine both the expertise of a specialist with a software-based solution to ensure you maximise your organisation’s protection and minimise any potential breaches.

If you work in a lower-risk sector, such as retail, then the data you are collecting is likely to be lower in sensitivity and would not be so damaging if breached (however, this is not to say it would not be in any way damaging!) This being said, just because you may not be handling legally ‘sensitive’ data by definition, it is vital to remember that any breach is damaging to a business both in terms of a potential fine, but even more so the reputational damage to your organisation.

To figure out the right level of protection and assistance for your organisation, consider the damage a breach may have. If your data poses a high risk, then a compliance specialist would be a wise choice allowing them to bring in specific expertise to protect and safeguard your processes. However, if your data poses a lower risk, whilst a compliance specialist may not always be required, your team would most likely find benefit in a software-based solution to help manage your data processes and procedures.

It is important to note that when you consider the above three factors we have outlined for helping to determine whether your organisation needs a consultant or a software-based solution that these are by no means definitive. Neither does your organisation need to meet all three ‘thresholds’ for example, if you feel a compliance specialist with add benefit to your team and your internal data processes and procedures the likelihood is they will and it would not be a wasted investment.

Deciding the level of assistance your organisation requires is never easy. If you are still unsure what specific help your business needs with data protection, get in touch with our team for a consultation and let our in-house team of specialists and experts work with you to draw up a compliance plan to safeguard your organisation.