10 features to look for in GDPR compliance software in 2024

10 features to look for in GDPR compliance software in 2024

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As businesses face an increasing number of compliance requirements, documentation demands continue to grow. The world is becoming more digitalised. Threats are becoming more severe. So, compliance requirements are likely to become even stricter in the future. This applies to both GDPR and other areas of compliance. Such as IT security and cybersecurity.

The three letters, GRC, are therefore highly relevant to discuss. They are crucial in both small businesses and large corporations. GRC stands for Governance, Risk, and Compliance. It aims to ensure that we keep these three concepts in mind in our business operations.

With GRC comes a range of documentation requirements. These include preparing documentation on the current state of your business. They also involve keeping this documentation updated. In response to changes in your business and the legislation.

With the increased demands, many are outgrowing the documentation tools they have previously used. These are typically a mix of Excel and Word documents. Since these tools are not built for the specific tasks under data compliance, the increased complexity creates challenges. This is where GRC software becomes essential. Because it can for instance assist with GDPR compliance.

Read more: What is the difference between Compliance software and Excel?

In this article, I will highlight 10 features that you should consider when looking for a GRC platform.

Start using our free GRC platform Privacy today


What is GDPR Compliance Software?

What is GDPR Compliance Software?

There are various types of GDPR compliance software on the market. There is the platform that helps scan whether you and your employees delete emails. There are platforms that can assist you in getting a cookie popup on your website. And then there are platforms that help you with your documentation tasks.

The latter category falls under the term GRC software, which is the focus of this article.

Overall, a GRC platform can be used for one or more areas. When you look at a GRC platform, they can usually assist with one to several compliance areas. The first step is therefore to find a GRC platform that can help with GDPR compliance. The purpose of a GRC platform is to provide a product specifically designed for the work you do with compliance documentation. Thus, the platform can help and guide you and your colleagues through the compliance tasks you face.

The extent to which GRC platforms help varies greatly. They can be highly automated, user-friendly, and designed for either large or small businesses. Therefore, you should carefully consider your needs before choosing a platform to assist you.

And that is the purpose of this article: to help you understand what you should be looking for once you realise you have outgrown manual documents and need to choose a GDPR compliance tool.

Should You Use GDPR Compliance Software?

The short answer is yes, all businesses can benefit from GDPR compliance software. However, the extent of your need for it can vary. Additionally, it will also be a matter of balancing cost, the complexity of your documentation, and your needs. This will determine its value to you specifically. These points will also be addressed in the latter sections of this article.

Putting aside that consideration for a moment. It is beneficial for everyone to have a GRC platform. Here, you get a structured tool that assists you with personal data protection and related tasks. A platform designed to help can offer frameworks and standards, so you don't have to "reinvent" everything from scratch.

Good GRC software is designed to simplify complex regulations. And it present them in a format that both you and your colleagues can understand. The tool can help streamline the task, so you don't need to spend unnecessary time on documentation. There is a significant difference between the platforms available on the market. So, the choice of GDPR Compliance Software will always depend on an evaluation of what each platform offers. Look at how well they are designed, and of course, what they cost for you and your business.

Read more: What is compliance software and do I need it?

10 Features to Look for When Considering GDPR Compliance Software

Watch a short presentation of the list in the video or read on for the full list.

A GRC platform offers a range of features. Depending on what you need the platform for, there may be specific features that are particularly relevant. It is difficult to compile an exhaustive list of all the features a platform might offer. And thereby which you should evaluate.

So, in this article, I have chosen to highlight 10 key features. These are important for anyone looking for a GRC platform, regardless of company size and industry.

1: Data Mapping Features

GDPR compliance begins with an overview. This part does not need to be filled with paragraphs and references to the regulation. The overview starts by mapping your business processes, systems, and suppliers.

Data Mapping Features

This can be achieved through data mapping. Which is making it essential that the GDPR compliance tool you choose has robust features for this purpose. This applies both to creating processes and systems, and to gaining an overview of your existing documentation.

When you perform GDPR data mapping, you focus on the processes where you handle personal data. And the necessary information you need to provide mandatory documentatio. This could for instance be a Record of Processing Activities (RoPA). Therefore, assess the GDPR compliance software to see if the data mapping tool itself seems intuitive. Could it for instance be used by your colleagues, who often know what they actually do, such as when sending out a newsletter. Next, evaluate whether the mapping tool provides an overview. This includes the minimum documentation requirements under GDPR. Finally, check if the compliance platform can provide relevant extracts from the data mapping. Can it produce a clear and understandable Article 30 record? With information from the processing activities you and your colleagues have mapped?

Read more: What is a Record of Processing Activities (RoPA)?

Much of your GDPR compliance work starts with mapping processes, systems, and suppliers. From there, you build further documentation tasks. It is essential that this foundation works in a way that you feel comfortable operating within.

Read more: Make your Data Mapping simple with our Data Mapping tool

2: Overview from Multiple Perspectives

Following on from point 1, it's important that you find a platform that can provide an overview from many perspectives.

You may need to view your compliance documentation from a systems perspective one day and from a process perspective another day. Thus, consider how the data structure in the GRC software is assembled. Is it logically constructed in relation to your organisation? And does it offer the ability to activate many perspectives on the same documentation?

For example, I would opt for a platform that places the company's processes at the centre. In GDPR compliance, these are referred to as processing activities. And these are what you need to be able to compile an Article 30 record of. Processes are a good starting point, as any business or organisation can be mapped from a process approach. For example, payroll for employees, sales processes for customers, and setting up a website.

But then, it's crucial that you also explore whether other perspectives can be linked. For instance, can you record which systems you use in a process? And can you register a supplier for that system? And most importantly, if you record information in one place, is it also displayed from the other perspective? That is, the process knows something about the vendor that comes from the connected system. This is where a digital compliance platform can be extremely helpful and, not least, save you a lot of double entries.

3: Opportunity for Expanding Compliance Areas

In this article, we focus on GDPR compliance software. However, as previously mentioned, a GRC platform can often assist with multiple compliance areas. Therefore, you should consider which areas you might use the platform for now and in the future.

Opportunity for Expanding Compliance Areas

For instance, if you are using the platform for GDPR but also deal with IT security and cybersecurity compliance? It would be advantageous to have a platform that can support both.

Read more: What is a Information Security Management System (ISMS)?

However, consider the following:

  1. Can the platform do “too much”? The downside of compliance software that covers many different aspects and domains is that the platform itself becomes complex to use. You then lose some of the other benefits of GRC software, which is supposed to be easy to use. Therefore, a very broad GRC platform that can handle all compliance may not necessarily be in your interest.

  2. Are there interfaces between compliance areas? For example, it makes sense to manage GDPR and information security on the same platform. Why? Because you record many of the same pieces of information in both contexts. For example, you map all your IT systems. It would be wasteful to do this in two different places to cover two different compliance areas.

  3. Can the areas be activated over time? Suppose you have found a GRC platform that can assist with various compliance areas. But initially, you just want to start with GDPR. Can you then use the GDPR features and later activate features for other areas? This can be an advantage in terms of complexity, onboarding on the platform, and your cost.

4: Organisational Management

This point is not necessarily important for everyone. But for those to whom it is relevant, it is crucial and should be explored before choosing a platform.

Are you part of a group with multiple subsidiaries? Or do you expect that you might acquire other companies in the future? And thereby becoming a conglomerate? Then it is vital to investigate a platform's capability to handle complex organisations.

When creating compliance documentation, you often need to present it at the company level. Yet, you would not want to create documentation for each individual company. For example, if you have group-specific processes or systems. It is a significant advantage if a platform can help you document and manage user access across multiple companies.

And here it gets a bit technical, but if a platform is not built from the start to handle this, it can be very challenging for the platform provider to make changes later. This means that you may not get these benefits from the start. And you should not necessarily expect that it will change.

So, you should look for GRC software that is designed to manage larger groups from the outset.

5: Task Management

Task Management

One of the significant advantages of GRC tools is that they greatly facilitate collaboration on documentation work. For example, as a DPO, you can delegate tasks to various colleagues who can contribute their input. In other words, tasks can be distributed so that the responsibility does not rest on just one person. Which is often the case without GRC software.

Read more: What is a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and do I need one?

In this context, task management is crucial. You would want to create an annual cycle for your GDPR compliance tasks. Here, you should be able to manage who needs to do what and when. Subsequently, a good platform will ensure that you and your colleagues are reminded of your tasks at the appropriate time.

This approach makes it easier to ensure that compliance tasks are spread throughout the organisation. And more people contribute to the project.

When evaluating task management on a GRC platform, it would be wise to consider whether the platform offers standard tasks. Whether it can be used for other compliance tasks, such as managing your certifications. And technically, whether the task management allows for what you need. Such as uploading documentation, audit trails, comments, etc.

To manage compliance in an organisation, your annual wheel and task management are central tools. So, spend significant time researching this module in the GRC platform you are considering. So you can ensure it meets your needs and is intuitive and efficient to use.

Read more: Make your Compliance Task Management with our free Privacy tool

6: Risk Module

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). From this perspective, it's natural that you would want a GRC tool to have a robust approach to risk management.

 Risk Module

When dealing with GDPR compliance, you're interested in a risk module capable of performing risk assessments on processing activities and vendors. Risk assessments can be daunting – where should you start?

Therefore, when evaluating GDPR Compliance Software, you should focus on two primary areas:

  1. Is the risk module based on a method that aligns with best practices in the field? For instance, you might assess it against guidelines from the data protection authority. Typically, you'd want a module where you can perform a risk assessment based on impact and likelihood. This is a common approach for processing activities or systems. Although variations may exist on how you assess, for example, a data processor.

  2. Does the tool offer guidance? Does it communicate this risk model in an easily understandable way? Does it simplify the process of conducting risk assessments? Even better, if you can find GRC software that provides a framework tool for risk assessments, giving you a starting point to work from. Starting a risk assessment from scratch can be challenging.

Risk assessments are one of the most crucial uses of your GRC platform. So investigate the risk module before choosing your GDPR Compliance tool.

Read more: We have written a series of articles about risk assessments find them here: A GDPR risk assessment framework and examples, What is a Data Privacy Risk Matrix? and What is Information Security Risk Management?

7: Usability and Accessibility

This is not a specific feature, but rather a parameter that should be a central part of all the functions of a GRC platform. This becomes an overarching assessment that you should make of the GRC software you are considering.

As previously mentioned, one of the advantages of using a GRC platform should be to avoid the complexity and lack of overview that can arise from using an Excel sheet. It is crucial that the platform is designed in a way that is user-friendly, intuitive, and accessible.

This applies whether you are working with data mapping, annual cycle tasks, or risk assessments. Usability should be reflected throughout the platform.

Not all GRC platforms include this as a natural part. It requires that the provider has considered this parameter from the beginning. There are examples of platforms where lengthy and complex forms make working on the GRC platform even harder than in Excel. As mentioned in point 3, there can be GRC software that has bitten off more than it can chew. And covers too many compliance areas, ultimately increasing the complexity of the platform.

Consider your own use of the platform: Can you understand the user interface, and is it intuitive for you? Then assess whether your colleagues would be able to access the platform. They may not have as broad GDPR compliance knowledge as you, but you are interested in them being part of the whole or parts of the platform.

If the GRC software you are looking at is not user-friendly today, it will not be in the future. The compliance field is only expanding, which means these tools also need to cover a broader range. This will bring more features to the tool, likely only making it more complex to use.

8: Frameworks and Standards

It's no secret that parts of your GDPR compliance documentation will be similar to that of another company. For instance, there aren't significant differences in how you process personal data for employee payroll compared to the company next door.

At the same time, within various compliance areas, you can find standards that you could beneficially rely on. For example, ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 are widely used. In relation to ongoing compliance tasks, the implementation of security measures, and risk assessments. Both in IT security, cybersecurity, and GDPR.

Read more: What is ISO 27001 Compliance?

When choosing GDPR Compliance software, you can beneficially evaluate which frameworks and standards you gain access to. But also consider whether you can supplement them with your own, in areas where you differ from the norm. By choosing a tool that offers a selection of standards easy to activate on the platform, you can avoid a lot of data entry work. You might also use such a catalogue as inspiration for which compliance measures you could advantageously implement in the future.

9: Customisation for Your Organisation

Unlike standards, you might want to modify parts of the GRC software to fit your organisation. For instance, you might want to change the master data that the platform comes with. Imagine you're recording some categories of personal data in your GDPR compliance work that aren't represented in the tool. In such cases, it's obviously important that you can update the master data to reflect the context and the "language" that you and your colleagues use.

This is always a balancing act. By allowing too many customisations on a platform, you could ultimately compromise its usability. Therefore, you should consider the balance between customisability and usability that you need. And thus figure out how you weigh different GRC platforms against each other.

10: Role Management

If you work in a larger company or conglomerate, it can be helpful to enable you and your colleagues to collaborate on documentation tasks. Organisations approach compliance documentation differently. Some keep it very centralised, where only a few individuals can make changes to the documentation. And these people must gather knowledge from departments. Others appoint stakeholders in various departments. Who then can contribute their knowledge to a shared compliance overview. Finally, some spread the documentation task widely, involving many colleagues.

If you already have or wish to eventually spread the documentation task throughout the organisation, it is crucial to choose GRC software with robust user and role management.

Look for a platform where you can control at the role level what data individual users can view, create, and edit. This can be managed at the user, department, or company level.

Read more: Make it easier to collaborate on compliance documentation with Privacy Pro

It may also be beneficial to find a tool where you can modify what each user sees. For example, one user might need to access data mapping in the platform. And another might need to see the risk module.

To ensure the best possible success in spreading the compliance task and collaborating within the organisation, consider finding a GRC tool that is built to assist with this. A good place to start is by examining the user and role management features.

You should also consider these when choosing GRC software

You should also consider these when choosing GRC software

Support, Onboarding, and Assistance

Who is the provider of the tool? And how do you assess their service level? When you start using a GDPR Compliance tool, you will likely need technical assistance initially. Therefore, it's important that you feel you can receive good service from the provider of the platform.

Evaluate whether they are easy to contact, cooperative, and if the chemistry is good? These are the people you will be working with both during the onboarding process and later for ongoing support and help. Therefore, it's important that you have the right gut feeling about the provider.

Read more: How to implement GDPR compliance in 10 easy steps

Price and Contract Term

You are naturally interested in the cost of the tool you choose. What is the monthly subscription price for the platform? And does the price justify what you need the platform for and the features you get access to?

There are various pricing models, some offering a fixed monthly fee and others with a variable price based on your usage.

The latter model is fair for most, as there is obviously a difference between being a large organization and a small business, and the price should reflect this scenario.

You should also consider the contract term. The shorter the term, the better for you if you need to switch platforms later for any reason. It also says something about a provider if they want to lock you into a very long term.

Trial Period

Does the provider of the GRC tool offer a free trial period? Or even better, do they have a free version of their tool? It's beneficial to be able to try out a tool before making a decision. It is precisely during a trial period that you can test the 10 points listed in this article.

Actively use the trial period to ask questions to the provider, both to uncover aspects that matter to you and to test the level of service.


How transparent is the provider of the compliance software? In what way, and how much information can you find on their website about their product, terms, prices, etc.? The more a provider is willing to publicly disclose, the better quality you can assume their product has.

Now you're ready to evaluate GRC software – you can start with Privacy

Now you're ready to evaluate GRC software – you can start with Privacy

I hope this article has provided you with some inspiration on how to increase your chances of choosing the right GRC platform. At .legal, we develop our own GRC software called Privacy, which is designed specifically to assist with compliance work.

I am convinced that you should look at various platforms to ensure that you choose the right one. However, I also believe that Privacy is a very good option, and this platform should therefore be included in your assessment.

Therefore, I would be very happy to engage in a dialogue where we can test Privacy against the ten points from this article – and whatever else you might be interested in evaluating. If you are interested, you are always welcome to contact me here.

But you can also start using Privacy completely free of charge, as we offer a free plan of the platform. This way, you can get started and test some of the features yourself before we continue our dialogue.

You can use Privacy for your GDPR compliance, but it is also possible to handle it-security and cyber-security compliance in the platform. Read more about Privacy ISMS here.

See all plans, features and prices here

Read more: What are the seven principles of GDPR?

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