Tag Archives: GDPR

GDPR Why bother?

In the face of unprecedented financial penalties for failure to comply, not all organisations are celebrating the coming of GDPR.  Many see it as an administrative burden creating little or no value for their organisation or its customers. In stark contrast to these pessimistic views of GDPR, a growing number of progressive firms are set on turning it to their advantage going beyond compliance alone. From the outset, a fresh approach is essential.

GDPR in no way resembles earlier initiatives such as Quality. Here, doing the very minimum to get through certification was for many, preferable. For GDPR, this is not an option. With the exception of very small businesses, the ability to systematically prove compliance and to go on to avoid potential data breaches requires rigorous procedures and processes. In turn, these must be validated from start to finish and through the many ‘if-then’ permutations that complex business processes typically follow, a task not for the fainthearted. Identifying the right approach is essential.

Whilst GDPR guidelines make frequent reference to the need to document procedures, it makes no specific recommendation as to the medium to use, notably text or flowcharts. Here, lessons can learned from some of the more progressive companies that have pursued transformation initiatives such as ISO 9000, Six Sigma and Lean. Process models, information-rich versions of flowcharts, with performance metrics, dynamic links – both up and down as well as across or processes hierarchies, and linked to external documents and data, have created new degrees of clarity and transparency as to how business operates.

The new levels of transparency process models create, go beyond the realms of textual documentation or one-dimensional flowcharts. Risks, roles, responsibilities and more besides becoming objects stored in a database within the process modelling tool or Business Process Management Suite (BPMS).  With risks, roles, and responsibilities assigned to workflows and tasks, their occurrence and impact can be easily traced across the entire processes landscape. Mitigation of risks can then follow so reducing the likelihood of a breach, bolstering evidence of compliance or exposing the potential for failure in the process. GDPR is not about simply mapping the ‘as-is’ but about the need to create new procedures in place, as prescribed by the UK’s ICO. Process models are the ideal medium creating visibility and clarity and for highlight risks.

In the event of a breach occurring, there must be planned and coordinated response that sees personnel under the direction of the nominated DPO (Data Protection Offices) expediting tasks to, where possible, mitigate the effects of a breach and in due course, inform the ICO. Process models created, validated and disseminated ahead of time promote best practice increasing the assurance that all required tasks are undertaken appropriately.

The management of risks, the Achilles Heel of data protection, need not and should not exist in a separate technology silo. All employees must be aware of risks, their potential impact and the required steps they can take to ameliorate issues. New generation BPM suites connect risk registers with live processes whilst keeping responsible managers informed and alert, ready to react in a timely manner.

An effective approach to GDPR is likely to trigger demand for new and incremental functionality from IT systems. With the May 2018 deadline for GDPR compliance looming,  requirements for additional functionality from the line of business IT systems – some minor, some major, may result in many IT departments and IT vendors may be struggling to meet demand. With much of the work already done, iGrafx not only provides a platform for modelling processes and GDPR related artifacts but enables the deployment of process models as workflows while providing complete transparency into the status of processes.

To find discuss your vision for Compliance and GDPR and to find out more what compliance could look like and how leading organisations are transforming their approach and creating value from GDPR while meeting the 2018 deadline, contact IGX Solutions to learn more.

Mitigate, Automate, or Litigate?

Like an ageing boxer, the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 is set to be eclipsed by a new heavyweight that warming up and ready to enter the ring some six months from now. Bigger, tougher, and up for the challenge, few can doubt GDPR is set to pull a good many punches and, possibly deliver numerous knockouts. If only a portion five thousand or so “issues of concern” the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) receives in a year were to metamorphose into valid breaches, there could be many red faces and blooded noses in firms large and small.

It’s important to remember GDPR is not just an IT thing; incidents such as disclosure of confidential information from the miss-directed documents in the post, irrespective of the cause, constitute a data breach and can result in punitive fines for company directors. GDPR requires a holistic approach from data controllers and processors to the range of risks facing data subjects face.

With the ICO now under the leadership of Canadian, Elizabeth Denham, a veritable grand master of Privacy, the risk of litigation with this body is not for the faint hearted, as a leading UK telecoms provider will vouch. The lessons learned from an October 2015 cyber-attack have resulted in a sea-change in a certain organisations approach to security of data, systems and processes, but at a cost. The ICO’s in-depth investigation found that the attack on the company could have been prevented if the said telco had taken basic steps to protect customers’ information. Along with a growing number of other notable household names, the firm has made significant progress transforming its data security and working process practices through the adoption of BPM methods.

Given the clear direction of Ms Denham and the growing number of “tools” available to the ICO to act on the consequences of breaches – whether by human or systems failings, or wilfully nefarious acts by criminals, failed litigation with it would likely come dire consequences for the board of any organisation. The October 2015 incident saw the firms CEO walk the plank not because of the £400k penalty the ICO imposed but due to the mass exodus of customers and reaction of the stock market. GDPR leaves no room for the apparent ambivalence in some quarters.

For all organisation touched by GDPR, mitigation is now the watch-word if “litigation” in any way, shape or form is to be avoided. All Data Protection policies must be updated in line with the GDPR guidelines and demonstrably enforced. But, in preparing for GDPR, there is a point at which all but the smallest firms will have to cross the Rubicon as the tasks required to effectively integrate GDPR into the working fabric and IT systems become more involved. The diversity of tasks to be addresses means there is no universal out-of-the-box solution.

A major task from the outset is ‘Gap Analysis’. This is the process of identifying where current processes and policies contribute to GDPR compliance or equally, where they create risks of breaches. In either case, risks must be catalogued. At this point, firms may wish to rethink how they document their standard operating procedures (SOPs), the majority of which still exist in written form. Business Process Mapping, a fairly static view of what/who/how and when has been eclipsed by Business Process Modelling best described flowcharts with the intelligence of spreadsheets and databases.

In brief, between now and 25 May 2018 we must align many of current operational processes to ensure compliance in a GDPR world. Experience shows that behind any one visible process there is a hierarchy of related and interconnected processes. Text-based procedural documents are best replaced with smart business process models to deliver insight and help reduce risk. With this Rubicon crossed, firms can move on to defining GDPR business processes ideally, automating them.

With resources, requirements, and risks documented in a process landscape (using BPMN, the now de facto standard for business process mapping), implementation, whether manual or automated can be easily audited and compliance confirmed. Making this a part of GDPR will not only help firms achieve compliance but will highlight any need for changes to information systems. Organisations currently taking a process centric approach to GDPR report significant benefits from more systematic mitigation of risks and the ability to sustain both updates and control of the compliance landscape.

By May 25th 2018 many new obligations and capabilities to fulfil them must in place ranging from consent management, requests about information held on the data subject, the Right To Access and Right To Be Forgotten (to name but a few). Without automation, the resultant workload may be outside of the resources and capability of many of the best-intended organisations.

With significant penalties for late responses to information requests such as the GDPR “Right To Be Forgotten”, there is speculation in some quarters that unscrupulous firms are preparing to emulate the claims bonanza now underway in the PPI miss-selling fiasco. If organisations are to mitigate the risks from what might turn into a gold rush on potential bonanza then automation of what would otherwise be human workflows is critical. Given the potential complexity to deliver a technology solution between now and May 25th, it would be reasonable to forecast many firms may be taken to the cleaners unless they recruit the required staff to respond manually (and within the defined time limits). Connecting new generation workflow tools to existing data systems, now possible from BPM solutions such as iGrafx, enables a rapid response to such requirements.

To find out what GDPR compliance could look like, and how leading organisations are transforming their approach and creating value from GDPR, contact iGx Solutions on (UK +44) 0844 576 3306 or contact the author of this post trevor.morton@igxsolutions.co.uk