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GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR: Not an option, but a necessity for any organization nowadays

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Background of GDPR

After the privacy concerns escalated via allegations faced by the CEO of Facebook- Mark Zuckerberg in March 2018, data privacy issues took a new turn and grabbed global attention.

As a ripple effect, people started to raise their individual privacy concerns. Active and passive digital footprints become a matter of discussion, which gave rise to several questions.

The ideology of what lies under the umbrella of personal data and what does not became a serious issue for the European Union too. That is when the idea of General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR got seeded, and eventually updated the laws of personal data privacy protection and control.

Fundamentals of GDPR

The ultimate aim of this regulation was to legally protect basic individual privacy while making such trade-offs which do not hurt the organizations excessively. Meanwhile, it helped European inhabitants to recognize the importance of correct use of their personal data. Here are the fundamental rights given to data subjects under GDPR.

A person lying under the authority of the EU will have rights to:

  1. Have complete and free access to his/her personal data for the lifetime
  2. Make changes to correct the existing data
  3. Erase data with all the possible traces
  4. Restrict the processing of his/her data
  5. Get notified when a breach occurs
  6. Transfer his/her data to another organization
  7. Object over any decision relevant to processing, storage or circulation etc. of his/her data
  8. Disapprove automated decisions made by data controller or processor

This means that a European data subject now has the right to ask what, how, where, why and when his/her data is being used. The subject can even ask data controller and processor to delete, modify, correct, retrieve or move its data from one data controller to another.

Why Compliance Is Inevitable?

To implement the GDPR, the EU made organizations legally bound to answer the requests of data subjects within 30 days. Otherwise, companies will become liable to the administrative penalty of up to 20 million euros or 4% of the total overall revenue, whichever is higher. So, every GDPR affected business is now required to answer bulk requests on a daily basis.

As there is no concrete definition of compliance, there is no any sure-fire way to avoid the fines. Companies have to rush to respond to each request no matter how much extra time, costs and resources it takes.

GDPR Implications for Businesses

As GDPR neutralized the concerns of the European public, organizations who were data controller suddenly fell under the pressure of implementing 9 Articles plus 173 Recitals under the GDPR framework. The “Privacy by default and by design” impact was so fundamental that business models, even basic workflows got disturbed. The privacy policy agreements are no longer considered as consent since data controllers need to take the consent from the subjects (i.e. “opt-in” not “opt-out”) for data use explicitly, and more frequently. Moreover, if organizations decide to outsource data processing to a third-party, those data processors will also be held accountable, unlike DPD which liberated them from accountability. All in all, GDPR implies for businesses that the only way to handle this situation is to be fully compliance-ready. And to do that, they need an effective GDPR strategy.

Major Challenges Followed by GDPR

According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the major obstacles faced by organizations to be GDPR compliant are to make data portable, forgettable and to elicit consent. In this context, defining optimized business procedures can be a challenge for data privacy professionals.

Some businesses might even shift their focus from productivity to process compliance, data governance and quality control because these requirements are the most highlighted in GDPR.

More precisely, the main challenges faced by businesses are:

Change Management

It is difficult and time-consuming to make such huge structural changes in live processes and legacy systems, especially for multinational companies.


Organizations need to establish, document and maintain all records for GDPR initiatives, including goals, objectives, methodologies, rules, regulations, resources, tasks and results.

Data Integrity & Standardization

Complete, good quality and standardized data is the foundation of a solid GDPR strategy. However, storing new data, refining existing data, and integrating different data structures can be highly complex.

Inevitable Human Factor

Unstructured processes and verbal communication together can make data more vulnerable to leaks.

Overhead Costs

Initial set-up and on-going training for all employees to handle GDPR relevant processes properly and scientifically can harm core productivity of a business, and even damage revenues.

Data Identification & Classification

Pinpointing legitimately required data for storage, processing, documenting and reporting can be extremely confusing.

Data Timeliness

De-coupling valid and obsolete data can be rough since organizations need to decide when the data will become unnecessary according to different data lifecycles.

Data Security

Organizations need to keep data legit, secure and up-to-date while having regular data backups and purges, as well as maintaining different access rights to data.

Audit & Compliance

Proven track records of collected, stored, used, edited or deleted data are essential for any organization to prove compliance in case of audits.

Enforcement Outside EU Scope

As easy as it might sound, figuring out GDPR applies to which subject under which context is not easy. A company that has no presence in Europe might process data from a UK customer, and it needs to roll out all-around measures to ensure compliance. It is even more challenging for multinational companies to have different strategies in place if any other similar laws are applicable in various regions. Organizations need to find common grounds for multiple regulatory requirements.

All these challenges are not a stand-alone activity shouldered by your DPO (data protection officer), CIO (chief information officer) or CISO (chief information security officer). It needs an overall strategy re-design and process makeover, which acquire special attention, task force and upskilled employees to meet the requirements GDPR.

A closer look at the advantages of solving GDPR with BPM

To address the challenges faced by organizations and make GDPR compliance dovetailed in an organization’s everyday operations, a process-driven approach is the only way to implement, manage and maintain GDPR initiatives in the most efficient way.

That being said, Business process management (BPM) is a powerful approach that is able to address all the aforementioned challenges of GDPR. BPM tools can be easily built into the existing business process framework of the organization and expand each of the 7 pillars of  GDPR in to the business process hierarchy, turning asynchronous business activities and fragmented workflows into well-designed and efficient processes complying with GDPR definitions. This will also ensure that all new processes introduced or existing processes undergoing change due to GDPR will be fully compliant.

This way, ongoing management and maintenance will become easier, and accountabilities will be crystal clear. At the end of the day, process optimization, risk management and regulatory compliance are the shared goals of BPM and GDPR.

BPM methodology can increase the business productivity exponentially with the help of some off-the-shelf BPM tools and applications offering numerous basic and add-on features which can be mapped into the compliance requirements.

Here are some salient features of the BPM tools and their correspondence with GDPR:

Impact Analysis

BPM tools are able to provide an impact analysis or an impact diagram that will help identify any process and artefact to be impacted due to GDPR. This will ensure that the GDPR compliance programs can be implemented in a time bound manner.

Monitoring & Analysis

BPM tools can help you visualize ongoing activities and strengthen cross-departmental collaborations. They will keep track of data flow in a common shared repository that allows for full security, complete traceability and various access levels. Data controllers and business managers can generate audit trails to make sure that everything is right on track.

Data Ownership based on Segregation of Duties

Every user of the BPM tool will be assigned clear-cut roles and responsibilities for each process, task, resource, regulation, rule, document, etc. Employee performance will be quantified. Hence evaluation will become easier and improvements can be facilitated. Such data ownership will eventually empower the job of your DPOs.

Approval Cycles & Security Setting

Approval messages and ground level interactions can be automated via BPM portal to get concrete consent of data processing. Approval cycles make sure that your data Individuals’ rights will be protected automatically and inherently.

Flexibility & Accessibility

An inclusive BPM tool can import & export your data from/to different databases, allowing flexible, precise and safe data transfer. It is worth mentioning that many BPM tools are mobile responsible, allowing hassle-free access to your data anytime, anywhere.

Notifications & Alerts

BPM tools ensure that responsible and accountable individuals involved in a process will get notified automatically in order to perform their tasks, whether it is approval or rejection of an action, in a timely and prompt manner. Such real-time alerts will be extremely useful in case of a misuse or breach of your sensitive data.

Audit Trails

A complete audit trail of the changes made to business processes as well as related artefacts is supported by many BPM tools. Such feature will help business process owners to maintain history of the changes and roll back to previous versions if necessary.


To ensure that all requirements (as applicable to the client organization) of GDPR are addressed, it is cardinal that the process changes are performed based on cross-functional collaboration so that all hand-offs are appropriately mapped and there is full consensus in the redesigned process.

Un-learning & Re-learning

To be GDPR compliant, management and employees in an organization will have to undergo significant un-learning and re-learning of business processes. Hence a repository-based BPM tool can provide significant value in ensuring alignment of people and processes, facilitating knowledge retention as well as best practices sharing.
To learn more about how BPM can safeguard your GDPR initiatives, check out our blog.

How Interfacing can help

The Enterprise Process Center – Catalyst for Your GDPR Implementation

Interfacing’s Enterprise Process Center ® (EPC), a recognized leading BPM & GRC solution, offers a wide range of modules from process optimization, document management, performance analysis, data governance, risk assessment, to audit and control. Beyond a process modeling tool, the EPC has helped numerous organizations to improve processes, automate workflows, document system data enhance performance, mitigate risks and share knowledge. The EPC will be the silver bullet that enables:

1. Process Design & Planning:

Identifying key processes related to data, mapping GDPR into your organizational workflows, involving all actors connected to GDPR

  • Translating processes into actions via process mapping, displaying interrelated processes to improve your overall productivity and process intelligence
  • Documenting activities related to data, generating complete audit trails for traceability and compliance
  • Deterring regulatory violations in everyday operations by implementing controls to ensure seamless execution from all employees
  • Version controlling to monitor your data environment, safe data purging to manage your data inventory

2. Data Security & Accountability:

  • CRUD (create, read, update, delete) methodology to ensure data safety during the entire lifecycle
  • RACI expanded matrix to set different security levels for data based on different roles, rules and responsibilities (segregation of duties)
  • In-sync modification of data all across the organization to guarantee data consistency and information symmetry
  • Mobile responsive platform to support data flows in all digital business environments and endpoints
  • Instant notifications to create dialogue, ensure consistency and increase trust with your employees and customers

3. Risk Assessment & Mitigation:

  • Visualizing and analyzing all data-related activities through different views and reports to better detect, deter and prevent risks
  • Prioritizing risks mitigation actions, formulating countermeasures based on calculated scores to rationalize your decision-making
  • Setting periodical reviews and monitoring different maturity levels for continuous improvement during your GDPR journey

GDPR In A Nutshell

GDPR entangled and disrupted the future landscape of data governance and compliance – the EU imposes zero data violation to every company that deals with European subjects.

With the help of advanced BPM tools, businesses can focus on quality and security without sacrificing productivity and efficiency. BPM tools are a critical tactic that allows European customer to trust their data processors and controllers, and eventually increase loyalty and retention to a brand.

BPM tools can be an all-in-one solution to the giant bundle of problems followed by GDPR, and there is no doubt that businesses should start implementing such tools to pave the path towards a better future.

Learn how we can help you manage Compliance

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Document, improve, standardize, and monitor your business processes, risks and performance with Interfacing’s Business Process Management Software (BPM Software) the Enterprise Process Center®!