Why buyers need a 'golden record' of suppliers

21 May 2021

Having a single ‘golden record’ of suppliers is critical for strategic procurement and analysing risk, an event was told. 

Nick Baddeley, customer success manager at Rosslyn Data Technologies told delegates at a CIPS Breakfast Briefing a lack of a single record of suppliers was an issue he had seen time and time again at firms, but it is something that is critical across the entire business.

He said: “One of the key stakeholders in a business are the suppliers. They are key to the success of the business and so understanding who your supplier is, is absolutely critical… Having that 'golden record' enables you to understand the compliance issues that may be around your supply base, and also the risk issues that you may have in that space. 

“Having that knowledge of my supplier enables me to understand the structure of my different supplier groupings. Knowing how your supplier is structured across its own organisation is critical to knowing from a procurement perspective whether you are dealing with the same company in different guises. 

“Firms that have grown by acquisition, and even within firms in their own data sets, could have a mishmash of supplier names, supplier codes and duplicates. Really trying to nail that one down and get your data into a state that can be used across the business is absolutely critical from a strategic position,” he said. 

Also speaking on the panel, Ginny Warr, head of procurement at property development firm British Land, also stressed the importance of having clean data from a strategic point of view.

She said: “Often you inherit many disparate systems with separate data sets on different suppliers. The most important thing, before you start anything to do with risk, is to get the basics right. Not everybody has the luxury of being able to have a single ERP system or something to connect them all together. So the best thing you can do when faced with this situation is to try and come up with some brilliant basics that will help you glue all of your data together.”

People will often be faced with duplicate records, poor out-of-date supplier information, and very little 'know your supplier' information so data must be cleaned, Warr added. 

“At British Land, we use a routine where if a supplier hasn't been transacted with in the last 14 months and we put them into a non-active state. We don't delete them from the database for audit reasons but we actually put them into an inactive state,” she explained. 

Warr added that technology could also be invested in to allow suppliers to keep their records up to date.

“Only once you've done that can you start understanding the risk that is inherent within your supply chain. In terms of strategic value, this is really about supplier value management. The strategic value of that is it will help you optimise your savings, reduce costs and risk, and build value-based relationships. You can't be a good CPO if you have no confidence in your data,” she said. 

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