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4 signs that Excel is no longer the right tool for your privacy management


Privacy Nexus



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A big part of GDPR-compliance is demonstrating it, also known as accountability. This means that, among other things, you need to document processing activities as well as maintain information on various issues such as processing purposes, data sharing and data retention. This documentation can then also help you comply with other aspects of GDPR and improve your data management.

For many companies and organizations, Excel is the starting point for this kind of privacy management. After all, it's an application that allows you to easily organize, analyze and store tabular data, it's been around since the late 1980s and there are plenty of instructional videos to get you started.

But while spreadsheet software like Excel is a great place to start your privacy management, it has its limits. Here are four signs that spreadsheet software may no longer be the right tool for your privacy management.

1. You've created an overview of your processing activities, but now you need to maintain it.....

Spreadsheet software may work when you first start your privacy management. But as your business grows, the data you collect, process and transmit will change. Your customers change, your applications (and the processing activities that go with them) change, third parties change, people exercise their rights, and so on. Before you know it, spreadsheet software is no longer the handy tool that keeps things organized and structured.  

2. You have a larger team and want to delegate tasks

Collaboration in spreadsheet software can be really challenging and can quickly result in miscommunication. Especially when it comes to delegating tasks, getting people to do their part and monitoring progress, spreadsheet software quickly begins to show its limits.

3. Broken formulas everywhere....

One of the most important features of a spreadsheet is the ability for a formula to reference the contents of another cell. This cell, in turn, can display the result of a formula. These formulas are easy to create because you can simply replace a number with a cell reference. Spreadsheet software gets its power from its ability to link formulas together and from breaking down problems into a series of individual mathematical steps, which can be assigned to individual formulas in cells.

However, errors in spreadsheets often have a waterfall effect. As your data processing activities change, many users will add and delete cells. But if a cell in your spreadsheet is mistakenly deleted or added, there will be major consequences. Delete or add a cell where you weren't supposed to, and the spreadsheet software will miscalculate all relevant calculations. Not only can this lead to a misrepresentation of the data you are collecting, but it can also take a lot of time and resources to find the error(s).  

4. You want more than just a bunch of spreadsheets

With a spreadsheet, you essentially create one table, whereas with a database you use a collection of many, automated and linked tables. You can create a workbook that contains multiple sheets, which can contain multiple tables that can interact with each other, but a workbook lacks the established structure of a database.  

It is here that many users encounter the biggest problem with spreadsheet software: inconsistent spreadsheets. You see this all the time. Because you have to manually add and change data in multiple worksheets, there is no central hub for managing this. And the bigger an organization gets, the bigger this problem becomes. It then becomes increasingly difficult to track down the problem. And while it is feasible to merge two spreadsheets, it becomes increasingly difficult to know which spreadsheet is right and which is wrong.

So, what can you do?

If spreadsheet software no longer works for you, it is advisable to take a look at privacy management software such as Privacy Nexus. Privacy Nexus is SaaS that helps you with all kinds of privacy management.

With Privacy Nexus you get:

The tools and resources to create a manageable and maintainable registry for your processing activities and databases. Easily compile your registry while keeping an overview of potential risks.

A simple way to create ownership and accountability within your organization. Assign work to other users within the software and see how and when they perform it.

Audit trails to help you determine how certain information was created and to demonstrate your compliance efforts.

The starting point for your DPO or Privacy Officer. The comprehensive dashboards in Privacy Nexus show all relevant information within your privacy administration, allowing you to easily identify areas of concern.

And much more!

If the above information has piqued your interest, request trial account.