No matter your industry, no matter the purpose, picking out software probably doesn’t make your list of exciting Friday night activities. 

Sure, there are a few people who will break out a bucket of popcorn and a frosty beverage as they scroll through feature sets, G2 reviews, and customer testimonials… but most would rather (insert tedious household chore) than devote the necessary hours to finding a new computer program to implement. 

This goes for data privacy management software as well. 

And yet, it’s important to invest in the right data privacy management software for your business. Data privacy management is critical to your success. It’s one of the best tools you have for monitoring, auditing, and developing a privacy program that actually works. 

Navigating the options can be tricky because there are different levels of software, and some programs are better than others. Luckily, businesses don’t have to reinvent the wheel to conduct internal audits or build their privacy program from scratch. 

At the end of the day, data privacy management software should help your company, not cause more confusion. To ensure you make the right choice, here’s a primer to help you navigate the market.

What Is Data Privacy Management Software?

At its core, data privacy management software is designed to support data privacy operations. It helps businesses assess their data privacy practices and ensure that their operations comply with privacy regulations. 

The functions of privacy management software include:

  • Performing data inventories
  • Tracking user consent 
  • Conducting privacy impact assessments
  • Monitoring compliance with various data privacy regulations
  • Creating and distributing privacy policies
  • Data minimization
  • Cookie consent
  • Vendor risk management

Alongside data privacy, data management software often includes features to enhance data security.

Click here to learn more about the intersection of data privacy and data security.

Why Should Businesses Have Data Privacy Software?

In addition to the many benefits listed above, there are some key reasons why privacy management software is so critical to businesses. 

Manual data privacy management isn’t feasible for many businesses 

Unless you run a solo business, data privacy will never be the responsibility of just one person in an organization. There are so many different business stakeholders and processes involved in data privacy. 

To create compliant processes across the board and monitor them consistently, it helps to use a privacy management platform, which is a centralized tool to manage customer and employee data across your business. When used well, it can help prevent data privacy siloes. 

Data privacy is paramount to consumer trust (ergo, your bottom line)

Consumers are more likely to spend money with businesses that they trust. Digital trust has decreased, in large part, because of data breaches or misuse of consumer data. 

Meanwhile, 88% of customers believe trust becomes more important in times of change, and 66% ceased buying from companies whose values didn’t align with theirs. 

In today’s ever-changing landscape, long-term customer trust and loyalty are key, and data privacy is something consumers care deeply about. 

There is a growing list of privacy regulations you must comply with

While the United States doesn’t have an overarching federal data privacy law, many states have implemented their own laws, typically based on the principles and individual rights in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Of course, all state data privacy laws are different. For this reason, U.S. businesses must operate in an ever-growing patchwork of data privacy laws. While many of these laws have thresholds that ease the burden on small businesses, all businesses should evaluate which laws they must comply with—and how to create privacy policies that support those laws. 

This is precisely where good privacy management software can help. 

8 Ways Data Privacy Software Should Assist You

Finding the right data privacy management software can be a tedious, time-consuming, and potentially mind-boggling task… if you don’t know what to look for. So sit down, grab some popcorn, and let’s walk through some of the key features you’ll need. 

Keep in mind, though, that while these features are important, most data privacy management software requires some level of human input, meaning it won’t run your privacy program for you. 

What these features can do, though, is reduce the effort required to handle the many privacy-related tasks that keep you compliant and in good standing with your customers. 

     1. Manage data inventories

Data privacy management software is critical to conducting a thorough and accurate data inventory. It can help follow data through your business to understand exactly what data is collected, how it is processed and used, stored and protected, and who has access to it, whether internally or through third-party vendors. 

This provides a helpful birds-eye view to set your privacy program up for success. When weighing options for data mapping software, you’ll want to consider the ease of use, available integrations, quality of insights & reporting, overall technical features offered, and the level of process automation.

     2. Support risk mitigation

For any business that operates online or stores consumer data electronically (so everyone), there are risks for data breaches or compliance violations. But you can’t protect your business against those risks if you don’t know what they are. 

Look for data privacy management software with a multi-pronged approach to risk mitigation. Some specific features to look out for include:

  • Data breach notifications
  • Risk assessment for both data privacy and data security.
  • Data minimization tools to identify redundant, obsolete, or trivial data
  • Data classification tools to ensure your data is handled correctly.

     3. Facilitate data access governance

To protect sensitive data, you must understand who has access to it.

A data privacy management software should be able to help monitor and flag any data access risks. By reinforcing access controls, the software helps identify any sensitive data that lives somewhere it shouldn’t and disables the sharing of certain types of data. 

This can help maintain consumer trust, protect company data, and generally help you sleep better at night.

     4. Manage cookie consent

Most state and international laws restrict marketing cookies, meaning that companies need software that can help them manage opt-in and opt-out, along with CCPA’s “Do Not Sell/Do Not Share” requirements. 

Your privacy management platform can help optimize cookie consent processes through audits, categorizations, and adjusting your cookie consent options based on what works for your business.

If you choose to deploy a consent banner, privacy management software can also help customize your banner based on relevant regulations. For any cookie consent solution, keep in mind the ease of use, customizability, look and feel, technical features available, and reporting capabilities.

     5. And also privacy notices!  

Your privacy policy is your internal documentation of privacy operations in your business. On the other hand, your privacy notice is the public-facing documentation of your privacy operations that explain to your consumers their rights and what you do with their data. 

The right software can help simplify how you store and display your policy for users. Some may provide templates you can use to sync your privacy notice between your website and mobile application. 

If you need your privacy notice available in multiple languages, the software can also help you manage each version of your notice.

     6. Automate privacy rights

The GDPR, along with most states, has provisions that give consumers the right to request information on how a company uses their data. Depending on which jurisdictions you fall under, you may have to send a full response within a certain period, such as 30-45 days. 

If you were to do this manually, it could end up being one person’s entire job. A management platform can help automate this request process for your business. In addition to the level of automation, consider the ease of use, degree of customizability, and depth of insights and reporting when selecting a privacy rights automation tool.

     7. Reduce risks associated with vendors  

Even if you follow all relevant data privacy regulations, you could be liable if you share consumer or employee data with a third party and they mishandle it. 

To help minimize third-party risk, look for privacy management software that helps automate some of the risk assessment and reporting. Some platforms even have triggers to reassess a vendor if a change occurs in your privacy program or a third party’s operations.

     8. Support privacy impact assessment needs

Many businesses will be required by law to produce privacy impact assessments when requested by the state (depending on what data you process and how you process it, you may even have to submit regular assessments to the state). Privacy impact assessments, which evaluate your privacy operations and compliance, can be difficult to pull together without notice or the right tools in place to execute them. 

Privacy management software simplifies the assessment process to demonstrate compliance. The right software can identify risks and automate parts of the process. It’s still going to take work, but it will take a lot less work (trust us, it’s worth it). Look for software that is easy to use, can be customized to your needs, and has clear insights & reporting.  

Data privacy management software checklist

Each of the features above may have its own highlights and pain points, but as you compare privacy software options that offer these features, here are some criteria to consider to help you make a decision. 

  •  Ease of use: How easy is it for a user to navigate the software? Ensure the range of users will be accommodated. For example, some users will be administrative while others will simply need to answer assessments.
  •  Ease of integration: Some tools do not require integration with existing systems, while others require an API or other connections to use their automation features. It’s also important to see what is required to make the API connections successful. Consider the ease of integration and maintenance for your IT or development teams.
  •  Pricing: Some products are licensed based on the number of users or cookie domains, while others are priced by the volume of data used or by connector. While considering pricing, factor in how your team or your business may grow (i.e., the number of domains) in the near future because that could tip you over a pricing tier threshold.
  •  Reporting: Understand what type of reporting is available. Is the ability to export reports important, and if so, how easy is it to do that? Does the information exported in reports from a product include what matters most to you? 
  •  Quality of support: Some companies offer basic email support with limited turnaround time, while others may offer premium support at an additional cost.
  •  Technology: What are the capabilities of the privacy tool, and how far does it go beyond just what is required? A high-quality product should have technology that consistently delivers on main use cases and has the flexibility to accommodate several others. 
  •  Customizability: Consider what options are available and to what extent you can customize the features to suit your needs.
  •  Insights and reporting: Check on the depth and clarity of data points included in reports and dashboards.
  •  Product aesthetic: How good does the product look visually? 

Data Privacy Management Software Resources for Businesses

There’s an ocean of great privacy software out there, and we know it can feel like you’re hunting a white whale when you’re trying to find one for your business. Here’s a list to get you started:

Have one you love? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line and share your privacy software recs with us.

Find a Platform That Works for Your Business

Every business is different and has different needs. An outside expert can help you navigate the data privacy waters and find the tools that suit your business. 

Reach out to our team at Red Clover Advisors to book your free consultation.