Contingent labour – who’s working for you today? (Any Snowdens within your organisation)?

There was an amusing short piece in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago from Lucy Mangan, talking about how as a ‘temp’ secretary and PA in her past life, she was regularly given unfettered access to all sorts of confidential and interesting information by the firms she was working for.  She mentions Edward Snowden in passing, who of course working for a contractor when he disclosed vast amounts of sensitive government information, and the recent case of the “temporary  PA to the chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, who had access to his personal emails , and discovered several discussing women in fairly vile fashion”.

It’s a humorous piece but conceals a real and growing issue for senior managers. As organisations rely more and more on third parties, whether suppliers or individual temporary (contingent) staff, how does the organisation truly know who is working within its boundaries, what their backgrounds are, who has access to what data?

How many CEOs would have a clue how many non-employed staff are working on their premises at any given moment? Let alone knowing anything about them or indeed what they are doing.  And that is just one reason why we’re seeing growth in solutions and providers who can help firms get to grips with this population. Sure, there are commercial reasons for managing your contingent labour ‘estate’ as well as possible, but to some extent, if I were a CPO looking to make the business case for investment in tools to help manage this area, I would play even more strongly on the risk element.

Of course you can’t legislate 100% against a Snowden or someone who carefully conceals a dodgy past, but you can take basic precautions. Proper process for ‘onboarding’ individuals, the appropriate checks, and simply knowing who is doing what and where at any given time can go a long way.  Whether you want to manage this yourself, through a VMS platform ( Fieldglass, IQ Navigator, Beeline) or you want to use a service provider who can manage the whole contingent labour directly (such as Comensura and others), then there are options worth considering now.

Procurement risk management often seems to focus on the issues and possibilities that are a long way away from home. Earthquakes, tsunamis, labour disputes in China, pirates disrupting shipping around the East African coast.  But those contract maintenance folk in your production plant?  The accountant who comes in to help with the year-end rush? Do you understand the risks that they might pose?

And the other message from all this (aside from understanding just who is working for you today)? If you really must write Neolithic emails about the opposite sex to your mates, then maybe you shouldn’t give the temporary PA access to your account.

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