Managing GDPR: how to approach your strategy

While there has been a certain degree of concern surrounding the potential implications of the new data protection regulations, the prevailing reaction has been significantly positive. Many digital and IT leaders are seeing it as an opportunity to reassess the way their business captures and manages data. Here lies the opportunity for the improvement of IT infrastructure, a better use of systems and procedures, a meaningful reconnection with existing customer databases and the chance to implement more efficient decision making throughout the business.
Ultimately, GDPR changes will need to be filtered from the top down but will also need to be workable from an operational side. This means that a number of key stakeholders from your business will need to be involved at different stages and from different business functions. Everyone within the business should be asked to identify the data they currently own and use in their roles. 
In the lead up to the changes, there may be high-level discussions surrounding potential impacts and a strategic plan involving the CEO. At this time it is important to identify where data is collected in different areas of the business and how it is stored and managed. The functional operators for each business sector should be engaged in these discussions as well as IT, IT security, information management and legal. Conversations should also involve any third party suppliers.
From conversations we have been having with both clients, candidates and external GDPR specialists, the consensus is mutual, GDPR should be tackled with the view that these changes will bring new opportunities to improve the way you work but the key is to act now. 

How to approach GDPR

A great point of reference to managing GDPR is the ICO’s ‘Preparing for the General Protection Regulation (GDPR) 12 steps to take now.‘ If you are worried about being underprepared for the upcoming regulations, and if you haven’t already, make an immediate start on developing and implementing a strategy.  
Review the ICO guide and start a business assessment to identify the areas you are at highest risk of breaching compliance. Build a team of key contacts from around the business to help with this process.
Cameron Smith, Director at LDPS Consulting said: “The first step is to understand the existing data flows.” He highlighted that it is important to identify who the data controllers and data processors are as well as “what data is being transferred to whom, for what purpose, under what conditions and with what protections.” 
Some businesses we have been speaking to are focusing on developing systems to manage all of their information assets. These systems will determine who is responsible for each data set and what information is stored and will ensure compliance across the organisation.
To navigate the process, we have seen a rise in the number of GDPR Project Management roles that companies are recruiting for along with a rise in the demand for professionals skilled in change management.  
From a functional perspective, we have also noticed a shift towards the hiring of certain skills. For example, some businesses are recruiting for an increasing number of proposition/innovation roles in their marketing teams to identify new channels and develop innovative ways to connect with their target market looking forward. Some businesses are also hiring legal professionals to sit within their marketing teams as a key point of contact for the function to ensure compliance is adhered to in all future marketing activities.

Who can help with GDPR?

When looking to hire someone to assist with GDPR, there are some key skills that will be crucial for the successful planning and implementation of your change strategy.
Of course, those with a sound knowledge of DPA (Data Protection Act) and GDPR will be highly beneficial to your business throughout the strategic planning for the update. However, many candidates have only just recently shifted their focus to GDPR and compliance, true data protection/data privacy professionals are hard to come by and are now in high demand. 
We have also seen many clients from across a number of industries and within different business functions investing in data and compliance roles to ensure the efficient management of information and that it is in line with GDPR regulations but you should also be on the lookout for professionals with the following skills.
  • Emotional intelligence – Someone who will be able to engage with people and is able to build strong relationships quickly to work efficiently towards identifying gaps, building a strategy and implementing necessary changes.
  • Process mapping – Knowledge/experience in documenting and controlling processes. Professionals who have experience mapping the activities of a business, who is responsible for them and the standards that define success will be key. 
  • Project management – Change professionals - business analysts and project managers. Those who have a proven successful track record delivering projects according to plan and meeting tight deadlines will be crucial in ensuring the strategy is delivered in time for the enforcement date. 
  • Compliance backgrounds – Those professionals who have previously worked on policies and procedures, and monitoring updates.
  • Legal professionals (data privacy lawyers) – Your legal teams will be fundamental in contract review and amendment, drafting policies and procedures, and acting as an advisory for the strategy. 
  • Training – It is not only crucial to have people with knowledge of and the capability to implement a GDPR strategy, it is also important that these people can inform the wider business and operational staff of what these changes mean and how they will affect their roles.
While reaching full compliance may seem like a bit of a headache now, the processes and requirements you put in place should allow you to make meaningful changes to your business infrastructure and ultimately improve and modernise the way that you operate. 
If you are searching for a GDPR project manager or a change professional to assist with your strategy, why not get in touch with one of our expert consultants today? Our team of industry specialists have access to a national database of talent, backed by over 40 years’ recruitment experience in the UK, our teams offer a boutique service bespoke to your business needs. 
Contact your local office today or submit a job spec to start the search and one of our consultants will be in touch.