The larger your business becomes, the more suppliers it tends to engage with. The more suppliers you engage with, the greater the likelihood of those suppliers’ employees having access to your premises, data, intellectual property, client lists and much more besides. Some may make it no further than the front door. Others, however, may be required to move freely around your offices (cleaning staff are the obvious example here).
Apart from those people employed by your larger, more strategic suppliers (e.g. those used for outsourcing functions such as HR, IT or customer services), the majority of supplier staff are unlikely to have access to your critical systems, assets or data. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop them seeing, hearing or doing something they shouldn’t. And for those that do have access – think of someone in your outsourced call centre, for example – the amount of sensitive information they can come into contact with may far exceed what most payrolled employees would ever be allowed access to.
The more suppliers you engage with, the greater the likelihood of those suppliers’ employees having access to your premises
In regulated environments such as hospitals or schools, supplier staff are expected to be subject to the full range of checks that would be applied to any employee. Failure to do so should restrict their access to the premises, severely limiting their ability to do their job properly. In non-regulated environments though, where the risk posed by supplier staff might appear minimal, businesses can often see supplier screening as over-cautious; an unnecessary investment. They may have vetted the supplier organisation to determine they were reputable and bona fide but screening the individuals the supplier sends in may be deemed a step too far.
The risk may indeed be minimal but there’s reassurance to be taken from knowing that the cleaner, the website developer or even the person who restocks your vending machines is everything they claim to be before you let them roam your premises. After all, a matter of seconds might be all it takes for them to do something untoward.