The Value of External Review of Your GDPR Compliance Practices

Compliance is a tricky topic, and that’s especially true in the case of the EU’s flagship data protection law, the GDPR. With 261 pages to navigate, 99 individual articles, 7 principles for data processing, and large fines at stake for breaches, the risk of non-compliance is too high. In-house teams tasked with overseeing GDPR compliance might miss several critical aspects due to limitations like familiarity bias, resource constraints, or lack of specialized expertise. Here’s why an external review of your GDPR compliance can be so valuable.


A Lack of GDPR Compliance Can Lead to Record Fines

To exemplify why in-house compliance management might not suffice on its own for GDPR, consider how many companies regularly fall foul of the rules. The statistics show that GDPR fines hit a record fine of €2.1 billion alone, with organizations of all sizes regularly falling foul of regulations. Obviously, some of the more significant fines come from big tech companies showing blatant disregard for the rules because they can absorb such costs, but there are still many cases of preventable violations costing smaller companies a lot of money.

Some of the reasons for continued struggles to comply with GDPR include:

  • Data mapping issues and incomplete or outdated data maps, which leads to internal teams missing out on shadow IT systems or unofficial data repositories containing personal and unprotected data.
  • In-house teams might not be able to fully evaluate the GDPR compliance of third-party vendors or know how to do this, which can lead to fines and reputation damage via third party breaches.
  • Internal processes for handling data subject access requests (DSARs), right to be forgotten, and data portability requests could be inefficient or incomplete.
  • In-house teams might have outdated or insufficient incident response plans, or they might not test these plans regularly. (Delayed or mishandled breach notifications can exacerbate the impact of data breaches and result in higher fines.)
  • Compliance training programs may be sporadic or superficial, failing to create a culture of privacy awareness. Employees might inadvertently cause data breaches through negligence or lack of understanding of GDPR requirements.
  • Rapid technological changes, like AI and big data analytics, can outpace your internal team’s ability to adapt GDPR practices accordingly. Misalignment between technology use and GDPR compliance can easily result in unauthorized data processing activities.


How External GDPR Compliance Reviews Benefit Your Business

Engaging with an external company well-versed in both GDPR practices and robust cyber security can go a long way towards reducing the risk of hefty compliance penalties. Here are some key advantages to expect from external GDPR reviews.

Expertise and experience

Third-party cyber security companies have a thorough understanding of GDPR’s intricate requirements and are well-versed in the nuances of what is a complex regulation. An external company can help ensure that you properly address all data subject rights, such as the right to access, rectification, and erasure. You can also benefit from detailed guidance on setting up efficient processes to handle data subject access requests (DSARs), a part of GDPR that many companies struggle with.

Also, experience working with various organizations across different industries allows external reviewers to apply best practices tailored to the specific needs of each client. Drawing from their experience, they might recommend best practices for managing data retention and destruction policies that are particularly effective in similar industries to your company’s, which improves compliance and efficiency.

It’s also important to point out the focused expertise that these external reviews bring. External reviewers focus solely on the compliance review, whereas internal teams usually have to juggle this task with other responsibilities. This can lead to delays from internal teams having to prioritize other pressing matters. The longer you leave the review on the back burner, the higher the chances that any non-compliance issues remain unfixed.


External reviewers offer an unbiased assessment of your company’s existing GDPR compliance practices. These third-party reviews happen without being influenced by internal politics or preconceptions. Often, non-compliance issues stem from resistance to change caused by subjective biases and preconceptions.

For example, a sales team accustomed to keeping extensive records might resist implementing data minimization practices. They might argue that retaining detailed records is crucial for their operations, but this bias could bring you out of compliance with the GDPR’s requirements for data minimization and purpose limitation.

External companies provide impartial assessments of your GDPR practices, free from these types of internal biases and conflicts of interest. Solely focusing on regulatory standards and best practices rather than being hampered by internal dynamics gives the objectivity needed to ensure strong compliance.

Enhanced employee awareness

Compliance is a company-wide, shared effort that everyone should be on board with and understand. Yes, certain roles will have more involvement with your compliance efforts, but everyone needs to at least be aware of this law and its importance.

External reviewers can conduct surveys and interviews to gauge employees’ understanding of GDPR. Reviewing awareness levels might reveal that frontline staff are unaware of the proper procedures for handling data subject requests, which would indicate a need for more targeted training. An external firm might find that while the IT department follows stringent data protection protocols, while other departments like marketing or HR don’t.

On a related note, an external review might find that your current training program is too generic and fails to address specific GDPR requirements relevant to different departments. They can recommend more tailored training to address these gaps. For example, customized training sessions for different departments can help ensure that all employees understand their specific roles in maintaining GDPR compliance and are aware of best practices for data protection.


Improve GDPR Compliance with DIESEC

DIESEC’s Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) services leverage years of expertise to offer tailored solutions that enhance data protection and regulatory adherence at your business. By integrating advanced risk assessments, continuous monitoring, and customized training programs, we help you improve and maintain GDPR compliance. This approach not only mitigates risks but also ensures that compliance efforts are efficient and effective enough to foster a strong culture of data privacy and security in an increasingly regulated world.

Learn more here.