June 01, 2021
6 min read

GDPR management software for SMEs

What software is out there to free companies like yours from the privacy routine?

Compliance with laws is a cost center for businesses the world over: big or small. With the introduction of data privacy legislation around the world, businesses and other organizations are being made to treat their customers and their data with more respect. This has come at a cost in terms of resources spent on compliance with laws such as the GDPR, and compliance has become a time sink for many companies.


Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) fall under the scope of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and must therefore comply with GDPR requirements whenever dealing with personal data. Compliance requirements include consumer requests (such as DSARs: data subject requests), data protection impact assessments (DPIA), and data mapping. Regardless of size, SMEs face a significant burden on data privacy compliance as they must often grapple with their obligations while armed with limited resources and expertise.

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GDPR compliance poses several challenges to SMEs relating to proper interpretation of the requirements, as well as correctly understanding their obligations, and what are the appropriate responses.

There are a few exemptions for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees. For example, they are not required to maintain a record of data processing unless it is a regular activity. Nevertheless, for large and small enterprises alike, non-compliance with the GDPR may result in harsh penalties of up to €20 million, or 4% of the firm’s global annual revenues from the preceding financial year, whichever amount is higher. It is therefore essential to ensure compliance with the GDPR, regardless of the size of your business.

Cost of SME data privacy compliance

While laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have made exemptions from compliance with data protection obligations for smaller businesses, the GDPR is almost equal in its treatment of both large businesses and SMEs. In the UK, more than 47% of complaints relate to DSARs. Complying with data privacy laws such as the GDPR often creates significant hurdles for SMEs to jump, and the situation has only become more challenging as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pending GDPR obligations, including DSARs, often cause a backlog for SMEs and result in huge compliance costs of up to 50,000 EUR.

In today’s business environment, it is essential for SMEs to be compliant with data privacy laws to maintain a culture of accountability, transparency, and trust with customers. A 2019 survey found that millions of small businesses are non-compliant with the GDPR. Over time, many SMEs across the world have invested heavily in ensuring compliance with data privacy laws.

Automating GDPR compliance

Automation of GDPR compliance through GDPR management software can significantly reduce your compliance burden. This is especially true for SMEs, since:

  • SMEs recieve a smaller number of complaints, DSARs, and other obligations when compared to larger businesses
  • It may not be cost effective or viable to maintain a dedicated and comprehensive data privacy department within your SME
  • Keeping up to date with all the latest developments and incoming obligations can be a daunting task
  • Compliance obligations can create an additional burden on your employees
  • Penalties for non-compliance are severe

Given a rapidly-evolving business environment in which SMEs are forced to deal with a vast amount of personal data, complying with data protection requirements manually is ineffective. Technology and software solutions to automate these processes can significantly assist in reducing your compliance burden, and ensure sustainable and proactive compliance in data privacy which goes further than merely avoiding penalties.

GDPR software

To manage your compliance issues as an SME, an automated management software solutions help to:

  • Comply with time-sensitive obligations such as DSARs
  • Avoid mistakes which may result in severe penalties
  • Stay in control of people’s personal data at even the most granular level
  • Adapt to new legal developments while maintaining compliance
  • Reduce bottlenecks in coordination between departments
  • Keep you on the ball with compliance requirements
  • Automate of data collection, retention, and deletion processes, which can be extremely complex, risky, and time-consuming to perform manually

Overall, GDPR management software can deliver a number of data privacy compliance outcomes for your SME, however each enterprise has its own individual needs. If an SME is operating on a tight budget, it is important to thoroughly explore whether or not your organization requires GDPR management software.

Does your SME need GDPR management software?

Each organization has its own unique needs and level of compliance requirements. For some SMEs that perform limited data collection and processing, manual management of GDPR obligations may be the right approach. The need for GDPR management software depends on several factors. To understand the needs of your SME you should consider the following:

What data your SME deals with

Your day-to-day business operations may involve collecting, storing, and processing personal data on your customers and employees. As a first step, you should understand the nature and volume of the data you deal with on a regular basis. Aside from collection and storage of personal data, the retention and deletion of this data is also a pain point from a compliance perspective.

Understand your business’ GDPR obligations

As mentioned above, small businesses are also required to comply with the GDPR, albeit with a few exceptions for SMEs employing less than 250 employees. As a second step, try to understand what your obligations are, and whether they will place a significant burden on your existing staff or IT team. The key aspect here is to make an assessment of the DSAR requests you receive, and perform a data impact assessment on meeting your data mapping obligations.

Assess your resources for compliance purposes

Depending on the nature of your GDPR compliance burden, conducting legal compliance tasks manually may not be the most cost effective approach. Since non-compliance with the GDPR can result in hefty fines, it is important you optimize the use of your available resources. If your SME is heavily burdened by data privacy compliance requirements, a GDPR management software solution can assist you in automating your compliance activities. However, if your GDPR compliance burden is less significant, then it may be better not to invest in costly data management software.

Understand the various software solutions available and choose the one most suitable to your needs

With privacy tech on the rise, there are several options available to you when selecting a GDPR management software solution. Understanding the unique needs of your business will mean you are better placed to understand which software solution would be the most suitable for your SME.

GDPR compliance software benefits for SMEs

In these privacy-centric times, customers are increasingly conscious about their personal data, as well as how it is stored and processed by an organization. A Deloitte survey found that more than 58% of consumers are more cautious about sharing their personal data following the enforcement of the GDPR.

Creating a relationship of trust with your customers will allow your SME to use and process data more efficiently and transparently. Ensuring proper compliance with the GDPR helps to build trust with your customers over data privacy. However, a recent study uncovered that only 10% of SMEs are compliant with the GDPR.

Privacy-first for digital-first and tech SMEs

For technology-first SMEs that greatly value the privacy of their customers’ personal data, a GDPR management software solution is a powerful tool to ensure your compliance needs are met in a cost-effective and thorough manner. It is also likely that your digitally focused SME may be collecting, storing and processing a significant volume of personal data, which inevitably raises several compliance challenges on a day-to-day basis.

Not only does a GDPR management software solution help to keep the privacy of your customers’ data a top priority, it also significantly reduces the compliance burden that your organization must continuously devote both its time and scarce resources to.

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