Author Archives: thedoctor

GDPR – Consents (Part XIV)

Today’s guest post is from Tony Bridger, an experienced provider of Procurement Consulting and Spend Analysis services across the Commonwealth (as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) who has been delivering value across continents for two decades. He is currently President of UK-based TrainingWorx Ltd, a provider of a wide range of Procurement and Analytic business training programs (inc. GDPR, spend analysis, project management, process improvement, etc.) and focussed short-term consulting solutions. Tony can be contacted at

You will have to forgive us for this post – this is not an easy topic. The topic is quite broad and, as with most elements of the GDPR, takes a little thought and consideration.

Consents need to be considered as a key privacy factor across many elements of procurement business.

There are several ways we can discuss consents – but we thought that to demonstrate the complexity of the legislation – and some of the care that needs to be taken, we would use a fictional human resource or temporary labour company in Europe.

If you have any doubts whatsoever as to the complexity of the legislation for this category of supplier, drop on to the site of one of the larger UK based recruitment company websites and enjoy a leisurely afternoon coming to terms with their Privacy notice.   All of them have had to:

  • Map out where personal data is held – files, paper, spreadsheets, databases;
  • Understand who they share it with;
  • Centralise and control their access to personal data;
  • Define the who, what, why, when and where of holding candidate data – and make that clear to candidates;
  • Ensure candidates are informed of how their data is managed – stored and used;
  • Provide consent to send their personal resumes to clients as needed – however, for differing clients, it is likely that individual consents will be required
  • If the recruiter provides psychological testing, they will need to be clear how long those results are retained for, their use and how the results are used.

For example, in 2016-17, the New South Wales government allowed psychological testing of candidates for key roles.  However, the results of these tests were made available across all government agencies on demand – some 30+ of them.    If this was Europe – and a breach occurred – it could be a costly exercise.  Is the Government the agency – or each individual state agency or body?   The differences in how data is used (and associated consents) varies considerably across the globe.   Ironically, the NSW Department of Industry has just issued a warning to candidates that may have applied for roles could have has their personal details exposed in a potential breach – a breach that may have occurred on a much wider basis.

For procurers, if temporary labour agencies are used (and consultants are in the same domain , whether they like it or not)), many will insert contractor or employee names into invoices.   As the initial consent to disclose, and offer of work would have been consent based, it does rely on all parts of the consent process working to specification.   Perhaps that, as the old saying goes, could be a verloen hoep or “forlorn hope”.

With spend analysis data, recruitment agencies would no doubt use the legitimate processing clause – in combination with contractual processing requirements.  No harm there we suspect.   The customer would have the data – and for analysis purposes would need to review that data for contractual reasons.   All seems sensible enough.

However, if you think about the number of if-then-else processes and sub-processes that need to comply, then statistically it will be hard to ensure that all consents are in place in a fast-moving business.   At a later date, if a contractor submits a Data Subject Access Request this could involve recovering information that an agency has supplied to former contractor employers – again it is unclear.  It could be made worse if relationships between agency and customer have broken down.

We don’t have the answers, sadly.  However, it is, sadly, almost inevitable that someone will fall foul of the legislation in a supply chain as complex and high volume as temporary labour.  We shall see.

Thanks, Tony.

Agile Procurement? Or just go faster?

Today’s guest post is from Tony Bridger, an experienced provider of Procurement Consulting and Spend Analysis services across the Commonwealth (as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) who has been delivering value across continents for two decades. He is currently President of UK-based TrainingWorx Ltd, a provider of a wide range of Procurement and Analytic business training programs (inc. GDPR, spend analysis, project management, process improvement, etc.) and focussed short-term consulting solutions. Tony can be contacted at

Yves St Laurent was an outstanding fashion designer in very many respects.   However, he had very clear views on how fashion works.   He summarised it in five words:

“fashions fade, style is eternal”.

There is little or no doubt that the procurement world has (once again) jumped on a fashion trend.     In the fashionista world, everyone is busy being a transformer, a value-adder, a people empoweree – and now agile.   This must leave so little room in the day for saving money – it is costly to keep up with fashion trends as we all know.

Agile is an interesting word.   Agile applied to procurement is a very interesting word.

Agile springs from an alternative approach to software development.   However, it seems to have neatly morphed in to a word that seems to express some form of new, vague approach to sourcing.   Mark C. Layton in the Dummies Guide to Agile Management and Procurement Practices (2012) focuses on software acquisition and development as the basis for an agile approach – and how vendors can be managed in agile technology driven development projects.

CIPS published a paper in their Knowledge Summary series (undated) where some four pages of (unfocused) discussion results in the conclusion that:

“As this paper makes clear, ‘lean’ and ‘agile’ concepts have been, and continue to be, the subject of academic research………… (and) that ‘lean’ and ‘agile’ are not simply theoretical concepts.

Well, no help there then.   After a little rummaging through much word-smithing (I hope I don’t start a new fashion with that phrase), I found an article on Rev-International (Source) – so, quite recent.  The article states:

“To be agile means to be able to think, understand, and move quickly and easily. To be agile, according to Cornell, procurement organizations need to have the knowledge and ability to move quickly.”

Sadly, this deductively implies that unless they adopt the new fashion, procurement teams will remain inherently slow and unfashionably nerdy.   It gets worse:

 “It’s about using market knowledge and business intelligence to exploit profitable opportunities,”

From experience both as a member of, and supplier, to a wide range of procurement organisations, this is pretty much what most seem to do for a living.   However, admittedly, there is still a major capability gap in the use of business data intelligence in many procurement teams.   Many writers still focus on Agile as a procurement technology driven function – not much to do with “the rest” of the sourcing portfolio.   So where does this leave us?   I am now really not sure what to wear.

Don’t you just hate it when a piece of music gets in to your thinking….and you can’t turn it off?   The Kinks, in 1966, wrote a song called “Dedicated follower of fashion”.   There is one line that he/she is:

“……. Eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends”

It is too easy to become distracted by the fashionable and the pursuit of a silver bullet – by all means learn new techniques – and adapt if it fits.     However, it would be much better to see good procurement teams (continuing) to deliver quickly, using business intelligence and supplier collaboration – but with style – and a perhaps a little panache.    It’s really business as usual, save money, avoid chasing fashions.   Who knows, perhaps I am just plain old-fashioned and too focused on style.


Thanks, Tony.

Why You Need a Master Data Strategy for Proper Supplier Management (Repost)

This post originally ran on June 24, 2013, but seeing as it’s still a relevant message five years later, it is being re-posted to educate newcomers on the importance of Master Data Management strategies in this data-centric era.

Supplier Information Management is more than just buying a Supplier Information Management (SIM) solution and plopping it into your data centre. Much more. But yet, it seems that some people — anxious to deal with the visibility, risk management, and supplier performance issues facing them — believe that merely obtaining a SIM solution will solve their problems. A proper solution properly acquired, properly implemented, and properly used will go a long way to increasing supply chain visibility, enabling risk management and mitigation, and providing a solid foundation for supplier performance management, but the mere presence of such a solution in your supply management application suite is about as useful as a drill in the hands of a carpenter holding a nail.

You see, Supplier Information will never be restricted to the SIM system. Supplier information will always be present in the ERP system used for resource planning and manufacturing, the accounts payable system, the transactional procurement / procure-to-pay system, the sourcing suite, the contract management system, the risk management solution, the performance tracking and scorecard system, the sustainability / CSR solution, and other systems employed in your organizational back-office to manage the different supply management AND business functions. Supplier data is everywhere, and without a strategy, just shoving it into the SIM system won’t help.

In order to get a proper grip on supplier information, the organization needs a master data strategy that dictates the sub-records that define a supplier record and which system holds the master data for each sub-record. What do we mean by this? For example, the ERP may hold the core supplier identifier sub-record that defines the unique supplier number in your system, the supplier name, the supplier’s tax number, and your customer number in the eyes of the supplier and be the system of record for this information. The accounts payable system, referencing the supplier by it’s supplier number, may be the system of record for the headquarters address and payment address. The contract management system may be the system of record for the list of employees authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the supplier. The CSR system may be the system of record for the suppliers’ carbon rating, third party CSR rating, and your internal sustainability rating. And so on.

If this is the case, the SIM system, to truly be a SIM solution for your organization, needs to integrate with all of these systems and encode the proper rules to resolve data conflicts as required. Specifically, three things need to happen. First of all, whenever a system of record updates data, that data must be pulled into the system and overwrite the existing data. Secondly, anytime data is updated in the SIM system for which it is the system of record, that data must be pushed out to all systems that use it. Thirdly, and this part is sometimes overlooked, whenever data is updated in a system of record, the data not only needs to be pulled into the SIM system, but it then needs to be pushed out to any system that also uses that data. The SIM solution is the centre of a hub-and-spoke data architecture — all updates flow in, and all updates flow out.

This can only be properly accomplished with an appropriate Master Data Strategy. Don’t overlook it. Otherwise your SIM solution will turn out to be a Stuck In Muck solution. An SI is not kidding about this.

Make Sure Your Perishables Don’t Perish!

With natural disasters on the rise, and late frosts already minimizing or eliminating the crops that will be available in the fall, it’s more important than ever to minimize food waste throughout the supply chain.

Thus, SI would like to remind you of some important tips that can have a big impact on keeping your perishables from perishing!

  • Do not load produce at night.
    When it’s easy for insects and other pests to get in unnoticed. Not only can a family of spiders ruin the grapes, but they might be banned in the country you’re importing into, which would result in your truck getting stopped at the border and turned around.
  • Always home-source during harvest season.
    Unit prices might be higher, but shipping will be lower, and loss will be lower still as you won’t risk losing product in long shipments, which happens regularly when trucks break down and/or get held up at the border. Plus, many people will pay a slight premium for local produce.
  • Know the seasonality for key staples in every region, not just the ones you generally source from.
    This will make sure you’re always sourcing from the region with the most supply, which will help you to get you the lowest costs as you will be able to negotiate better unit prices and secure transportation in advance when prices are low.
  • If the perishables will be processed, re-optimize the processing network.
    If you’re going to can, freeze, or otherwise process the perishables into a less perishable product, do it as close to the source as possible, even if it means using new suppliers or investing in new manufacturing plants. These refined products, which are typically denser, and which may not even require refrigeration, will be much cheaper to ship and suffer a lesser risk of loss.
  • Have a plan to sell excess perishables once they reach their prime before they perish.
    50% off at the store is not always good enough, especially if they are marked down an hour before closing on a Tuesday night and will not be saleable tomorrow. For example, even overripe, tomatoes are still great for pastes and soups. You could have each store strike a deal with local restaurants that allow them to buy perishables at prime at a discount before they are unuseable, or, if you are socially responsible, setup a donation program with a local shelter or soup kitchen where the shelter can pick up perishing items each day before close before they perish (and take your cash with them). Done right, you could probably even get a charity tax write off (as long as the items were donated while still edible). You may consider these ideas beyond the scope of sourcing, but you shouldn’t when you consider that 1 in 7 people in the world are undernourished and almost 40% of food is wasted in North America. Fix this. You have the power.

GDPR: Record … Record … Record (Part XIII)

Today’s guest post is from Tony Bridger, an experienced provider of Procurement Consulting and Spend Analysis services across the Commonwealth (as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) who has been delivering value across continents for two decades. He is currently President of UK-based TrainingWorx Ltd, a provider of a wide range of Procurement and Analytic business training programs (inc. GDPR, spend analysis, project management, process improvement, etc.) and focussed short-term consulting solutions. Tony can be contacted at

On of the key failings of the EU legislation is the apparent lack of standard EU approved clauses. They will arrive – at some point. For now, many vendors both inside and external to the EU will need to manage as best they can. We have covered the main contractual relationships required between processors and controllers. However, in brief they are:

  • Controllers must only use processors which are able to guarantee that they will meet the requirements of the GDPR and protect the rights of data subjects.
  • Controllers must ensure that they put a contract in place which meets the requirements set out in the available guidance.
  • They must provide documented instructions for the processor to follow.
  • Controllers remain directly liable for compliance with all aspects of the GDPR, and for demonstrating that compliance. If this isn’t achieved, then they may be liable to pay damages in legal proceedings or be subject to fines or other penalties or corrective measures

One of the major contractual changes between Controller–Processor is going to be the need to keep processing records. Given the nature of the change, if the provider is outside of the European area, this would be an important contractual requirement. It is also an important record of activity if a breach or error occurs.

It seems logical that most companies in the data business would see keeping records of processing activity as a normal standard business practice. Not so it seems.

For analytics (or any procurement platform provider), it may well be worth keeping some form of record of processing activity — if this is not currently a part of operational management. This may cover elements like data refresh receipt, refresh activity, new report generation and any other activity that takes place on the data. Remember, it would make sense to have one processing record for every processing requirement made by a controller. What would this take? A simple spreadsheet entry in most cases.

This may seem onerous, but if suppliers are anonymising or removing data from the transactions records, the who, what, why, where and when of processing maintained in records will allow tracking and follow up of errors if a breach occurs. It is an overhead – but is the basis of managing data more carefully and being able to cope with an audit.
However, as we will explain in a later post, the bureaucracy of the EU knows no bounds. We will introduce the concept of the DPIA, (Data Protection Impact Assessment) shortly.

The DPIA is an interesting concept — quite what anyone would do with these assessments at Supervisory Bodies (given the likely volumes) has to be questionable.

However, prior to that, we have to cover the thorny subject of consents.

Thanks, Tony.