In this five-part podcast series, sponsored by Assent Compliance, I explore supply chain data management. In this series, I visit with several members of the Assent Compliance team to introduce the topic, consider the synergies between several different types of compliance disciplines, the impact on organizations of compliance failures in this area and what are some of the drivers for continued legislation and regulation in this area. In this first episode, I visit with Matt Whitteker, the Vice President of Growth at Assent Compliance. He is also one of the co-founders of the organization. We discussed how Assent Compliance came to be founded through seeing the market need the founders saw and moved to fill with Assent.

We began with the market need that Whitteker observed. Literally in a cab ride one day with a friend, who worked for a nationally registered tests laboratory in Canada, this friend was describing how difficult it was to do supply chain consulting. The friend related how difficult it was to obtain solid, verifiable data on company suppliers. From this discussion, Whitteker had the idea to start a company around supply chain data management.

The next step was to recruit a software developer. They created a small software development  company and built an application specifically around material compliance. The next step was to move to collecting data. From there, they moved to data management and supply chain data management programs. Out of this emerged a fully commercialized product compliance management suite. Assent started acquiring customers at a fairly rapid rate and fast forward about a year and a half from there won a major RFP with one of the world’s biggest industrial manufacturers of glass. Whitteker called this “the ESPN turning point in the company’s history or at least the first one”. Moreover, when the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals provision came into effect, Assent was one of a very few number of companies in the marketplace that had a solution to collect and manage data on ethical sourcing.

One of the areas which has long intrigued me is the role of non-lawyers in conjunction with the type of services that Assent provides. Typically, a lawyer is not involved with the collection and storage of data. That role has typically been more in the bailiwick of a company such as Assent. However, merging the two skills sets can bring a much enhanced overall process to supply chain management.

Whitteker said that a large part of the benefit derived from working with Assent is the value from the type of data collected. This enables legal or supply chain professionals, risk officers or procurement officers to more fully manage the data. It means as soon as it comes into the organization, they can run risk profiles on the data. If there is conflicting data, it can be identified and rectified. Whitteker says that with “any type of data we are collecting and managing, the overlaying value comes from the actions that you can take from it. And in many cases, you identify this exactly correctly. It is the legal and risk profile that you derive from the data which has been collected.” At the end of the day, it is the technology that underpins data management. But, more importantly, it empowers people to take legal actions, run the risk profiles or “decide whether they frankly want to do business with that supplier or not.”

I asked Whitteker about where Assent might be headed and he noted that the “vision for the future is one that we own the category of supply chain data management.” He believes that there should be a specific category carved out for this niche. The field is simply too massive  a category and every single company from the smallest to the largest has a supply chain. The bottom line is that anything your organization purchases is through your supply chain. Assent strives to be the category leader for supply chain data management, both upstream and downstream. This means collecting data from your suppliers, responding to requests for data and managing all the data is the trajectory that Assent is on and it is one that the entity is really excited about it.

Join us tomorrow where we introduce the topic of supply chain data management.  To receive more of the latest news and content on a variety of regulatory and supply chain data management topics click here and sign up for the Assent Compliance newsletter.