Ensuring GDPR Compliance: Key Challenges and Strategies for Success

    skycentral.co.uk | Ensuring GDPR Compliance: Key Challenges and Strategies for Success


    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection regulation that came into effect on May 25, 2018. It aims to protect the privacy and personal data of European Union (EU) citizens and residents. With its stringent requirements and severe penalties for non-compliance, it is essential for organizations to ensure GDPR compliance. However, achieving compliance with GDPR can be challenging due to various factors. In this article, we will explore the key challenges organizations face in ensuring GDPR compliance and discuss strategies for success.

    Awareness and Understanding

    One of the primary challenges in ensuring GDPR compliance is the lack of awareness and understanding among organizations. Many businesses are still unaware of the full extent of the regulation and its requirements. It is crucial for organizations to educate themselves about GDPR and understand its implications for their operations. This includes knowing the different types of personal data covered by GDPR, understanding the rights of data subjects, and recognizing the lawful bases for processing personal data.

    Data Mapping and Inventory

    Another significant challenge is conducting a comprehensive data mapping and inventory. Organizations need to identify all the personal data they hold, its sources, and the respective processing activities. This task can be daunting, particularly for larger organizations with vast amounts of data spread across multiple systems and locations. However, it is a crucial step as it enables organizations to assess the risks associated with processing personal data and implement appropriate safeguards.

    Data Subject Rights

    GDPR grants data subjects several rights, including the right to access, rectify, erase, restrict, and object to the processing of their personal data. Ensuring compliance with these rights can be challenging for organizations. Responding to data subject requests within the mandatory timeline of one month requires efficient processes and clear communication channels. Organizations need to establish mechanisms to handle data subject rights effectively, including providing transparent information about their rights and implementing procedures to facilitate their exercise.

    Data Protection Impact Assessments

    Under GDPR, organizations are required to conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) for processing activities with a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects. DPIAs involve assessing the impact of data processing on individuals and implementing mitigating measures to reduce risks. Conducting DPIAs can be complex, especially for organizations that process large amounts of personal data or engage in high-risk activities such as profiling or data transfers to third countries. Organizations need to establish clear guidelines and frameworks for conducting DPIAs and ensure that the process is integrated into their overall risk management practices.

    Legal Basis for Processing

    GDPR requires organizations to have a legal basis for processing personal data. The most common lawful bases for processing are consent, contract performance, compliance with a legal obligation, protection of vital interests, performance of a task carried out in the public interest, and legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or a third party. Choosing the appropriate legal basis for processing can be challenging, especially when multiple bases may apply. Organizations need to carefully assess their processing activities and document the legal basis for each type of processing to demonstrate compliance.

    Data Transfers

    Transferring personal data outside the EU is another area where organizations face challenges in ensuring GDPR compliance. GDPR imposes strict requirements for such transfers to protect the privacy and rights of data subjects. Transfers to countries with an adequacy decision from the European Commission are permissible without additional safeguards. However, transfers to countries without an adequacy decision require organizations to implement appropriate safeguards, such as using standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules. Organizations need to assess their data transfers and put in place necessary mechanisms to ensure compliance.

    Vendor Management

    Many organizations rely on third-party vendors for various services that involve the processing of personal data. However, ensuring GDPR compliance across the entire supply chain can be challenging. Organizations need to conduct due diligence when selecting vendors and include specific contractual provisions to ensure compliance. This includes clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each party, ensuring data protection obligations are met, and implementing measures to monitor vendor’s compliance with GDPR. Regular audits and assessments of vendors are essential to ensure ongoing compliance and mitigate any risks.

    Data Breach Management

    Data breaches are almost inevitable, and it is crucial for organizations to have effective data breach management mechanisms in place. GDPR requires organizations to report certain types of data breaches to the supervisory authority within 72 hours, and in some cases, notify affected data subjects. Implementing robust incident response plans, including clear roles and responsibilities, is essential to handle data breaches promptly and effectively. Organizations need to have procedures in place to assess the severity of the breach, mitigate the impact, and take appropriate actions to prevent future breaches.


    Ensuring GDPR compliance is a complex and continuous process that requires ongoing effort and resources. Organizations need to overcome challenges such as awareness and understanding, data mapping and inventory, data subject rights, DPIAs, legal basis for processing, data transfers, vendor management, and data breach management. By adopting strategies that foster GDPR compliance, such as educating employees, conducting comprehensive audits, implementing privacy by design principles, and establishing effective data protection mechanisms, organizations can successfully navigate the GDPR landscape and protect the privacy of EU citizens and residents.