Processing directory - why, why, why?

In today's digital era, where personal data is highly valued, compliance with data protection laws in Switzerland is crucial for companies. One aspect of these laws is the development of a processing directory. In this article, you will learn why a processing directory is not only required for legal reasons, but can also offer business benefits.

What is a processing directory in Switzerland?

A processing directory, also called a directory of data processing activities, is a document that lists all processing operations of personal data in a company. It contains information about what data is processed, for what purpose it is processed, who is responsible for it and how long it is stored. This directory serves as an internal control instrument to make data processing transparent and traceable.

Legal basis in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the creation and maintenance of a processing directory is a legal obligation under certain circumstances in accordance with the Federal Data Protection Act (FADP) and the Data Protection Ordinance (DPA). Companies with more than 250 employees, as well as all companies that process particularly sensitive data on a large scale, are required to submit the directory to the competent data protection authorities upon request. This includes not only large companies, but also smaller businesses such as fitness centers, medical practices and other healthcare providers. Violations of these regulations can result in fines. However, this also means that for businesses with fewer than 250 employees and less sensitive data, there is no obligation to maintain the processing directory. These usually include trading and production companies. Nevertheless, I recommend that such companies also keep a processing directory, more on this below.

The advantages of a processing directory

In addition to meeting legal requirements, a processing directory also offers some business benefits:

1. improve data protection

By documenting all data processing activities in detail, companies in Switzerland can improve data protection. It becomes clear where personal data is stored and processed, which minimizes the risks in the event of data breaches.

2. recognize other duties

Processing such as video surveillance or the use of cloud services can lead to companies having to create processing regulations or carry out a data protection impact assessment. The processing directory serves here as a basis for identifying the further legal obligations.

3. gain the trust of customers

Customers in Switzerland increasingly attach importance to the protection of their personal data. If a company can show a processing directory, this increases customer confidence and strengthens its reputation.

4. efficiency increase

The creation of a processing directory requires a precise analysis of one's own data processing procedures. This can lead to inefficient processes being identified and optimized, saving time and costs in the long term.

5. legal security

In the event of legal disputes or inquiries from data protection authorities in Switzerland, a complete processing directory can serve as proof that the company complies with the data protection laws according to the DPA and DPO.


A processing directory is more than just a legal obligation in Switzerland - it is a valuable tool for improving data protection and increasing efficiency in companies. By making data processing transparent and traceable, you not only gain the trust of your customers, but also strengthen your legal position. So it's worth taking a close look at this topic and ensuring that your company meets the requirements of Swiss data protection laws.

Do you have any further questions on the subject of processing directory or data protection in Switzerland? I am at your disposal.

Your data protection expert Michael Schlotter

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