What GDPR Means in Practice for Irish Business

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European directive aimed at ring-fencing consumer data against illegal or unnecessary access. There is nothing to discuss or debate with local politicians, or the Irish Data Protection Commissioner for that matter. As a European directive, it has over-riding power. To obtain an English version, please visit this link, and select ?EN? from the table of languages.

As you reach for your tea, coffee or Guinness after sighting it, you will be glad to know the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has the lead in turning this into business English we understand. The following diagram should assist you to obtain a quick overview of the process we all have to go through. In this article, we briefly describe what is inside Boxes 1 to 12. The regulation comes into force on 25 May 2018 so we have less than a year to get ready.

The 12 Essential Steps to Implementing the General Data Protection Act

1. Create awareness among your people of what is coming their way. The GDPR has given our regulator discretion to dish out fines up to ?20,000,000 (or 4% of total annual global turnover, whichever is greater) so there is determination to make this happen.

2. Become accountable by understanding the consumer data you hold. Why are you retaining it, how did you obtain it, and why did you originally collect it. Now you know it is there, how much longer will you still need it? How secure is it in your hands, have you ever shared it?

3. Open a communication channel with your staff, your customers, and anyone else using the data. Share how you feel about how accountable you have been with the information in the past. Explain how you plan to comply with the GDPR in future, and what needs to change.

4. Understand the personal privacy entitlement of the subjects of the information. They have rights to access it, correct mistakes, remove information, restrict its use, decline direct marketing, and copy it to their own files. What needs to change in your systems to assure these rights?

5. Issue a policy for allowing consumers access to their information you hold. You must process requests within a month, and you may not charge for the service unless your cost is excessive. You may decline unfounded or excessive demands within your policy guidelines.

6. Adapt to the requirement that you must have a legal basis for everything you do with, and to consumer data. You need to be in a position to justify your actions to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in the event of a complaint. Having a legitimate interest is no longer sufficient.

7. Ensure that consumer consent to collect, use, and distribute their data is ?freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.? From 25 May 2018 onward, this consent will be your only ground to do so. You cannot force consent. Your benchmark becomes what the GDPR says.

8. Issue rules for managing data of underage subjects. This is currently under review and we are awaiting results. Put systems in place to verify age. Set triggers for where guardians must give consent. Make sure age is verifiable. Use language young people understand.

9. Introduce a culture of openness and honesty, whereby breaches of the GDPR are detected, reported, investigated, and resolved. You will have a duty to file a GDPR report with the Data Protection Commissioner within 72 hours, thus it is important to fast track the process.

10. Introduce a policy of conducting a privacy assessment before taking new initiatives. The GDPR calls for ?privacy by deign?, and we need to engineer it in. This may be the right time to appoint a data controller in your company, and start implementing the GDPR while you have time.

11. You may also need to appoint a data protection officer depending on the size of your business. Alternatively, you need to add managing data protection compliance to an employee?s duties, or appoint an external data-protection compliance consultant.

12. Finally, and you will be glad to know this is the end of the list, the GDPR has an international flavour in that multinational organisations will report into the EU Lead Supervisory Authority. This will manage the process centrally while consulting national data authorities.

The GDPR is a project we all need to complete. If we are out of line, it is in our interests to get things straightened out. Once everything is in place, the task should not be too onerous. Getting there could be the pain.

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Telemetry and the Survival of the Human Species

Without moisture, plants die. Without fodder, the animal food chain collapses. This is why climate change is the greatest threat humankind faces. Crop management needs timely information regarding ambient conditions, and also in the soil itself. In dry areas, online knowledge of trends in rainfall, sunlight, wind speed, leaf moisture, air temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation are indicators of soil stress that can be deadly for plants, and everything that relies on them.

As climate change bites, the need to find solutions accelerates. Drones swoop across to monitor ambient conditions, while probes sunk into plants and the earth in which they grow transmit information to big data repositories for feedback to administrators. In Australia, a remarkable cattle farmer is applying the same approach to his herds.

Nuffield scholar Rob Cook has always been on the edgy side of things. He lost his mobility in a helicopter crash in 2008 patrolling farmland but that has not deterred him. If anything, it has freed his mind to explore the potential that telemetry offers farmers in Australia. He shared this potential with the young beef producers in Roma Australia recently, and here is a summary what he said.

Being wheelchair bound he had to shift from herding with cattle dogs to a more scientific approach. He bought a farm 230 miles / 370 kilometres inland from Brisbane in a warm, temperate climate with significant rainfall even in the driest months. He uses observant software that reports on critical issues like water levels indicating animal consumption, and supplementary water flows from a central irrigation channel.

He also monitors fodder sources for dryer months, and moisture levels in food stocks. Rob is committed to making every blade of grass count. ?We even have the ability to take a photo of the cattle when they are taking a drink of water,? he explains, and that provides valuable information regarding tick and fly infestation and overall condition.

None of this would be possible for Rob Cook without telemetry, which is the process of collecting data at remote points and transmitting it to receiving equipment for analysis. Independent farmers do not have equipment to fund these analytic resources on their own, and use big data resources in a cloud to obtain reports. ecoVaro is on top of current trends. Please speak to us when you need independent advice.

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Technology and process improvement

Tightening organisational flow to improve productivity and minimise costs is a growing concern for many businesses post the Global Financial Crisis. Businesses can no longer afford to waste time and personnel on inefficient processes. Organisations using either Six Sigma or Lean techniques better manage their existing resources to maximise product out-put. Both of these techniques involve considerable evaluation of current processes.

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is an organisational management strategy that evaluates processes for variation. In the Six Sigma model, variation equates waste. Eliminating variation for customer fulfilment allows a business to better serve the end-user. In this thought model, the only way to streamline processes is to use statistical data. Each part of a process must be carefully recorded and analysed for variation and potential improvements. The heart of the strategy embodied by Six Sigma is mathematical. Every process is subject to mathematical analysis and this allows for the most effective problem solving.

What is a Lean Model?

Lean businesses do not rely on mathematical models for improvement. Instead, the focus is on reducing steps in the customer delivery cycle, which do not add value to the final deliverable. For example, maintaining excess inventory or dealing with shortages would both be examples of waste behaviour. Businesses that operate using Lean strategies have strong cash flow cycles. One of the best and most famous examples of Lean in action is the Toyota Production System (TPS). In this system, not only is inventory minimised, but physical movement for employees also remains sharply controlled. Employees are able to reach everything needed to accomplish their tasks, without leaving the immediate area. By reducing the amount of movement needed to work, companies also remove wasted employee time.

Industry Applications for Lean and Six Sigma

Lean businesses reduce the number of steps between order and delivery. The less inventory on hand, the less it costs a business to operate. In industries where it is possible to create to order, Lean thinking offers significant advantages. Lean is best utilised in mature businesses. New companies, operating on a youthful model, may not be able to identify wasteful processes. Six Sigma has shown its value across industries through several evolution’s. Its focus on quality of process makes it a good choice for even brand new businesses. The best use is the combination of the two strategies. With the Lean focus on speed and the Six Sigma focus on quality combined, the two organisational processes create synergy. By itself, Lean does not help create stable, repeating success. Six Sigma does not help increase speed and reduce non value-added behaviours. Combined, these two strategies offer incredible value to every business in cost savings.

Using Technology to Implement Lean Six Sigma

Automation processes represent an opportunity for businesses to implement a combination of both Lean and Six Sigma strategies. Any technology that replaces the need for direct human oversight reduces costs and increases productivity. A few examples of potentially cost saving IT solutions include document scanning, the Internet, and automated workflow systems.

  • Document Scanning – Reducing dependency on paper copies follows both Lean and Six Sigma strategies. It is a Lean addition in that it allows employees to access documents instantly from any physical location. It is Six Sigma compliant in that it allows a reduction on process variation, since there is no bottleneck on the flow of information.
  • The Internet – The automation potential offered by the Internet is limitless. Now, businesses can enter orders, manage logistics and perform customer service activities from anywhere, through a hosted portal. With instant access to corporate processes from anywhere, businesses can manage workflow globally, allowing them to realise cost savings from decentralisation.
  • Automated Work Systems – One of the identified areas of waste in any business is processing time. The faster orders are processed and delivered, the greater the profits for the company and the less the expense per order. When orders sit waiting for attention, they represent lost productivity and waste. Automated work systems monitor workflow and alert users when an item sits longer than normal. These systems can also reroute work to an available employee when the original worker is tied up.

Each of these IT solutions provides a method for businesses to either reduce the number of steps in a process or improve the quality of the process for improved customer service.

Identifying Areas for Lean Six Sigma Implementation

Knowing that improved processes result in improved profits, identifying areas for improvement is the next step. There are several techniques for creating tighter processes with less waste and higher quality. Value Stream Mapping helps business owners and managers identify areas of waste by providing a visual representation of the total process stream. Instead of improving single areas for minimal increases in productivity, VSM shows the entire business structure and flow, allowing management to target each area of slow down for maximum improvement in all areas.

Seeing the areas of waste helps management better determine how processes should work to best obtain the desired outcomes. Adding in automated processes helps with improved process management, when put in place with a complete understanding of current systems and their weaknesses. Start with mapping and gain a bird’s-eye view of the situation, in order to make the changes needed for improvement.

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Operational Reviews

IT OPERATIONAL REVIEWS DEFINED
An IT operational review is an in-depth and objective review of an entire organisation or a specific segment of that organisation. It can be used to identify and address existing concerns within your company such as communication issues between departments, problems with customer relations, operating procedures, lack of profitability issues, and other factors that affect the stability of the business.
Operational reviews allow the organisation members to evaluate how well they are performing, given that they perform appropriately according to the procedures set by them, allocating their resources properly, and performing such tasks within time frame set and using cost-effective measures. More importantly, it also shows your company how well it is prepared to meet future challenges.
Simply put, the goals of an operational review are to increase revenue, improve market share, and reduce cost.

THE BENEFITS OF AN IT OPERATIONAL REVIEW
The main objective of IT operational reviews is to help organisations like yours learn how to deal with and address issues, instead of simply reacting to the challenges brought about by growth and change.
In such review, the information provided is practical from both a financial and operational perspective. Using these data, the management can then come up with recommendations, which are not only realistic, but more importantly, can help the organisation achieve its goals. The review recognises the extent to which your internal controls actually work, and enables you to identify and understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

To be more specific, let’s list down the ways wherein an effective operational review can contribute to the success of the organisation.

The review process can:
– assess compliance within your own organisational objectives, policies and procedures;
– evaluate specific company operations independently and objectively;
– give an impartial assessment regarding the effectiveness of an organisation’s control systems;
– identify the appropriate standards for quantifying achievement of organisational objectives;
– evaluate the reliability and value of the company?s management data and reports;
– pinpoint problem areas and their underlying causes;
– give rise to opportunities that may increase profit, augment revenue, and reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the product or service.
Thus, each operational review conducted is unique, and can be holistic or specific to the activities of one department.

Our Operational Efficiencies cover the entire spectrum:

  • What to buy
  • Optimising what you’ve already bought e.g. underutilised servers, duplicate processes, poorly managed bandwidths
  • Making your team comfortable with the changes
  • Instilling Best Practices

UNCOVER WAYS TO DRIVE YOUR PROFITS UP, THROUGH OPERATIONAL REVIEWS

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