With the EU’s long-awaited General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) now officially implemented, many of us may be wondering how procurement staff will be affected.

It is tempting to think that the responsibility to ensure full data processing compliancy falls squarely in the remit of an organisation’s IT department. But now is the time to think again: professionals holding procurement jobs, with their expertise in supplier relationship management, risk management and mitigation, are ideally poised as an indispensable strategic asset to ensure that an organisation, and every party in its supply chain, conforms to GDPR.

The penalties for compliance failures are weighty: up to 4% of annual global turnover can be fined in the event of a breach. The rules give “data subjects” more control over how their information is gathered, shared and applied. Data controllers and processors must not only fulfil the regulations, but they must also clearly demonstrate their compliance. In addition to this, any business that processes information from EU data subjects will be obliged to adhere to the new rules.

Well-informed procurement staff are already in the perfect position to answer the questions raised by GDPR that relate to contract management and performance, thanks to their familiarity with supplier relationship management. These professionals will need to assess all existing contracts, amending them where necessary, and must streamline workflow processes to make sure that communication is more transparent and efficient than ever before.

The impact could well be huge and may entail an overhaul of procurement’s existing supplier relationship management conventions at a grassroots level. Teams will need to include GDPR-tailored audits, performance reviews and supplier surveys as part of their day-to-day “new normal.” Moreover, procurement staff are going to have to work more intimately than ever with internal stakeholders, working closely with an organisation’s IT professionals to ensure an efficient, inter-departmental partnership in the post-GDPR landscape.

While these changes will prove stressful for most businesses, a robust strategic procurement team could be the perfect solution.

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