Jul 17

One Year In: Why Data Mapping Is (Still) The Most Important Piece in the Data Protection Puzzle

This first year of GDPR has been a rollercoaster for many businesses.

Understanding and interpreting the regulation, deciding what steps to take and how, getting your entire organisation and management team to understand your data protection needs… All while needing to demonstrate compliance.

Mapping your data and creating your data inventory, is one of the core components of GDPR. A data mapping solution helps you understand how data flows throughout your business.

All organisations we talk to come face to face with data mapping. Some consider themselves done with this part of the compliance work. Others seem to be in an ongoing process of attempting to build a structure on top of their data modelling efforts ad-hoc.

Even more realize they need to revisit the data mapping phase, and the core processes they’ve employed to inventory their processing activities.

More often than not, there are issues and concerns surrounding mapping processes.

Where are you in the data mapping process?

  • You’ve input information into Excel, and now you feel stuck. You realize it’s not a long-term solution, but it’s difficult to visualise what a long-term solution would look like.
  • You’ve invested a lot in the current setup, and are resistant to do so again. We see this often, and talk to many businesses who are frustrated – worried they might need to ‘do all the work again’.
  • Committed to a system or software that has proven too clunky or complicated for your workflows, leaving you longing for ease-of-use.

We believe revisiting your data mapping setup is a good idea. Few companies get it right the first time. With increased awareness and maturity, comes a good opportunity to revisit your data mapping modeling.

More importantly, it does not have to be difficult.

 

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Why Data Mapping is Still the Most Important Piece in the Puzzle

1) It is the foundation

A detailed and updated record of processing activities is a necessity to comply under Article 30. However, it is also the foundation of so much more.
Your data mapping process should give you a bird’s-eye view on what data you process – what it’s for, how it’s used, by whom, where it resides, and where it’s going.

The first step in data protection work truly is to provide an overall awareness and solid understanding. Therefore, we recommend revisiting your data inventory work continuously until you find a setup you’re comfortable with. Allow yourselves to revisit the work, a lot of companies do.

2) The stepping stone for transparent privacy work

A well structured and easy to understand data inventory creates opportunities for efficient data protection work. It’s the basis for increasing transparency, enhancing collaboration and improving internal communications.

With a solid data mapping system in place, we can feel secure in our interactions with others, visualize our data flows and create reports at the push of a button.

When we dare to take the step from clunky systems or compliance spreadsheets setups, into a tool that is purpose-built, new opportunities emerge.

3) Important steps in demonstrating compliance

Why do we bother putting resources into data protection? In the end, it’s simple. We want to be able to demonstrate compliance.

We want to make sure we do things the right way, remove headaches regarding data protection. And when your CEO asks you how things are on the compliance side? You can say ‘Yes, we’re good’.

Because you know it’s true, and you can prove it if needed. With visualisations or easy to understand reports.

In the end, being able to demonstrate compliance is the core need that our customers tell us about.

Closely followed by the deep wish to simplify data protection work, and make the work as easy as possible. Dreading revisiting what feels overwhelming, unstructured, yet somewhat in control (don’t fix it if it ain’t broken?).

We are entering the post-Excel era. Manual spreadsheets and complicated home-made setups are a thing of the past. In a modern digital ecosystem, a purpose-built software serves an important part.

Data mapping is a foundational step to get right. It’s ok to revisit. In fact, we encourage you to do so.

Investing in your data mapping and inventory process will give you a great position to work from as you mature, and will bring you, as a person in privacy, a better night’s sleep.

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