Beyond compliance: 3 reasons why Article 30 isn’t just a GDPR concern

Data holds more value for today’s businesses than ever before. From advancing personalised UX journeys to optimising products, the ways a company can transform consumer data to accelerate growth and market share are becoming more varied and sophisticated by the day.

However, while 70% of companies are increasing data collection activity and tapping into its growing list of business drivers, consumers are becoming more guarded and worried about how organisations use their personal data.

A recent report from KPMG suggests 86% of people feel a growing concern about data privacy, 78% are fearful about the amount of data being collected, and 40% don’t trust companies to use their data ethically.

As a direct response to concerns around data collection processes, Article 30 is a major GDPR strategy designed to keep data-handlers transparent and fair. Here, we take a closer look at the Article, exploring its compliance benefits, as well as the enterprise-wide impact Article 30 can have outside the world of GDPR. 


In this article, we spotlight Article 30, looking at its importance both within and outside compliance departments.

  • What is Article 30?
  • Why is Article 30 important?
  • Beyond compliance: 3 major business benefits for Article 30
    1. Optimising workflows
    2. Enhancing digital transformation projects
    3. Updating tech-stacks 
  • An introduction to Complyon’s free Article 30 data-mapping tool

To begin with: what is Article 30?

Article 30 is concerned with why and how a company processes data. Requiring businesses to produce “records of processing activities”, the Article forces organisations to look beyond data storage and examine their reasons and processes for data collection. 

This instruction means that a company must demonstrate how data moves throughout its organisation. They need to provide information such as what data categories are being processed,  why it was processed, if a third party or international organisation has been involved with any processing and a description of relevant security measures laid out by Article 32(1).

The process of being Article 30 compliant will vary from company to company.  Some rely on employee questionnaires; others schedule a series of consultant-led workshops. Whatever the method for collecting data, the aim is always the same – to understand and describe a company’s data flows. This information often needs to cover the processes, categories, systems and other parties involved with each data stream.  

Once the required data is collected, GDPR responsibles are then able to structure and fill in all required fields in their Article 30 documentation. 

Why is Article 30 important?

Before we talk about some of the major non-compliance benefits of Article 30, here’s a quick breakdown of what the Article can achieve within the field of compliance:

  • Identifying risk and non-compliance: through data-mapping a company’s information, GDPR responsibles have the overview they need to determine if data is moving through an organisation correctly and can quickly pinpoint non-compliant processes and activities that need addressing.
  • Laying GDPR foundations: the overview of Article 30 gives GDPR responsibles the information they need to start examining additional compliance areas such as retention rules, Third Country Transfer Impact Assessments and potential security breaches.
  • Demonstrating trust and transparency: As we’ve discussed, consumer sentiments and attitudes around data collection tend to lean towards the sceptical and the negative. Effective data mapping gives you everything you need to answer data requests, such as how someone’s data is being stored and used, which helps to maintain good customer relations.
  • Avoiding GDRP fines: Under GDPR legislation, data protection authorities can impose fines of up to €20 million or 4% of a company’s global turnover – whichever amount is higher. Alternatively, these governing bodies can allocate non-fine related penalties such as issuing a temporary or permanent ban on data processing, imposing a restriction on or erasure of data and suspending data transfers.

    It’s worth noting that if a business is found to be in breach of a specific Article but can show they took the right steps and safeguarding actions (for example, showing data mapping efforts made to comply with Article 30), DPAs are likely to consider this and hand out less severe fines and penalties. 

From optimising workflows to improving tech stacks: the power of Article 30

Alongside its GDPR benefits, the overview of the data processes, tools and roles generated by Article 30 is extremely useful for wider business areas and can be applied enterprise-wide to improve efficiency, productivity and security. 

Here, we explore a few of the major business benefits an Article 30 compliant business can expect.

1. Optimising workflows 

For many of us, our daily workflows tend to be a mix of processes inherited from predecessors, top-down instructions and individual work preferences. Whether we’re too busy or we feel it isn’t our place to challenge these ways of working, we often accept our various work streams and settle into how our roles play out at a specific company.

Article 30 gives managers the opportunity to go through their employee’s workflows and really examine how useful and effective they are. It gives them a space to ask questions that no one has had the time, agency or authority to consider, such as: “Are there too many people involved in this workflow?”, “Why is this task taking an employee so long?”, “Can we cut this step out of our approval phase?” or “Could we combine two data sets to reduce time and costs?” 

Emerging from their Article 30 projects, managers know how to make their departments run more effectively and can use these insights to put forward practical and strategic steps to improve their team’s productivity and efficiency. This optimisation can be experienced by the entire organisation if management and GDPR responsibles are supported in sharing their findings and applying them outside of departmental silos.

2. Enhancing digital transformation projects 

From global online workforce migration to mass restructuring of physical to digital infrastructures, there is no denying that the past couple of years have seen digital transformation efforts fast-tracked by many businesses. 

Experts suggest that COVID-19 has caused companies to accelerate their digital transformation plans by up to four years and this surge of activity shows no sign of slowing down – with worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies and services expected to rise from 1.8 trillion in 2022 to a staggering 2.8 trillion in 2025.

Article 30 can support digital transformation projects in two main ways. Firstly, the overview created through Article 30 compliance allows companies to identify their pain points more clearly. Particularly as data flows throughout the whole organisation, management can pick up on company-wide issues caused by manual or outdated processes.

Creating a more detailed picture of where digital transformation is needed and identifying shared frustrations allows a business to then prioritise its digital transformation activity. For example, if one system can transform workflows across numerous departments, this solution could then be bumped up higher on the digital transformation agenda. Or, if an existing workflow costs a company significant time and resources, this may become a bigger focus than an upcoming digital project.

3. Upgrading tech stacks 

With digital transformation booming, it’s no surprise that investment in tech platforms and solutions has also been on a sharp increase. For example, in 2020, organisations worldwide were using an average of 80 SaaS applications. Last year that number rose to 110. 

Most systems and software exist to help manage or extract value from the growing volume of data that a business accumulates. At the very least, these solutions require data to operate. So, in tracking and evaluating data flows, Article 30 activity generates a detailed breakdown of all the systems in a company’s tech stack. 

Similar to the way an Article 30 overview supports digital transformation efforts, the knowledge of a company’s tech infrastructure is extremely valuable for identifying opportunities and risk – particularly in large organisations or those operating with departmental silos. 

With this overview, management can then ask questions such as:

  • If a system is working really well in one department, could it benefit other parts of the organisation? 
  • Are multiple departments using the same platform? If so, can a new subscription fee be negotiated? 
  • Are two systems doing the same tasks? Which is more effective?
  • Are there any old systems in the tech stack that are inefficient or risky and urgently need to be replaced? 
  • What version of the software are we running on each platform? Can any be upgraded to improve productivity or security?

Answers to these questions will signpost any systems that need to be replaced, expose security threats, cut costs and streamline your enterprise tech stack so it can operate as one, rather than as a group of disjointed parts.

How can Complyon’s free Article 30 data-mapping tool support your business?

If you’d like to start unlocking the benefits of Article 30, Complyon is currently offering a free 30-day trial of its Article 30 data-mapping module. 

This GDPR solution makes it easy to comply with Article 30 by providing a data-mapping tool that’s easy and intuitive to use. Linking data to all the systems, activities and contracts it comes into contact with, the data-mapping tool simplifies the compliance process by making connections between data straightforward to understand.

Using the Complyon tool, data can be easily updated to keep up with organisational changes, and you have centralised access to a log where you can view past edits, modifications and data additions.  

Reports can also be generated with one click, as the tool automatically pulls together all your latest data, giving you an accurate reflection of the data you’re processing. 

You can find out more here and get in touch with our team if you need any further information.