I wrote a blog on linkedin, on what I call Vendor Management. This is based on my experience as an IT Security and Compliance consultant, and leans on ISO 27001. Some of the words in this article, mirror what I say in the linkedin post. I argue that rule one is to have a policy which must deal with how to apply a risk based approach to the supply chain. This means segmenting suppliers into value or risk classes, using a classic risk matrix of estimating probability of failure vs. the impact. This will help one understand how important any supplier is to the business. The policy should also have authorisation limits and policies to counter the threat of corruption and life-cycle policies inc. sunset clauses to ensure it remains relevant. The policy must define the monitoring requirements, which may create liabilities on both sides and also the need for terms to exit the contract, and remediation where the supplier unilaterally exits the market.

All IT supply must be under contract which must be appropriately authorised financially, legally and technically, i.e. someone must have signed of on the risks of confidentiality, availability and integrity. The nature of the contract and risk analysis will depend on the importance of the supplier to the enterprise. Contracts need to establish the right to use, rights to software updates, the rights to bug fixes and engineering effort under a service level agreement, the right to request enhancements, contingency in the case of the vendor’s market exit such as code escrow, functional future proofing (most importantly compliance functionality), intellectual property transfer and its exclusions, termination conditions and data protection commitments and controls. Contracts must be monitored and compensation agreed for failure to meet service levels which may exist on both sides, for example, the buyer will need to ensure it meets the agreed licensing rules and payments, and the supplier that any availability guarantees are met.

The Party must consider getting its software portfolio and IT Organisation ‘branded’ as of a suitable and professional quality. The GDPR defines a 3rd party certification as proof of that an organisation’s controls are adequate and the Party must for many reasons also register its HR systems with, possibly both, “Investors in People” and “A great place to work” , as it’s clear that professional advice and goals are needed to fix the problems obvious in the behaviour of several Regional Directors and first identified by the Chakrabarthi Report.

Do the Labour Party have a robust vendor management policy? The critical software product for compliance is probably the financial system, and to drive this, the membership system is required to record facts required for selection and to record if members are in good standing. Also do the Labour Party own a data centre (or two) or do they use a cloud provider? It’s obvious that some software is SaaS. Has due diligence been done, has a risk register been created for the portfolio? Not everyone will remember but Nationbuilder, no longer used by the party, which was the volunteer management product failed during the 2015 general election. This is important to get right and with questions raised by Unite’s evidence to the Forde Enquiry the audit and authorisation functionality of our financial systems must be questioned as must recent portfolio acquisitions such as Anonyvoter.

This is all kept secret, and it would seem that many NEC members have little interest in this part of the job.

The important thing here is that these problems have been solved before, and there is agreement on the right way to do things. The Labour Party can’t make this stuff up, as the whole of local government have just discovered with the imposition of Commissioners in Liverpool.

Vendor Management and the Labour Party
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