TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR VENDOR RISK MANAGERS
The very thought of vendor risk management can be enough to induce significant anxiety depending on the size of your third-party vendor pool, the size of your team, and the specific industry that you operate in. A bit of foresight and planning will go a long way towards increasing the effectiveness of your controls and decreasing the amount of time your team spends on redundant or inefficient tasks.
LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR BENEFIT
Are you still relying on Excel spreadsheets to chart essential data related to your vendors and contracts? Integrating all third-party vendor information into your vendor management system is the most effective way to handle that data. There are numerous systems out there, and each offers a different suite of services and access. Some programs feature the ability to automatically distribute vendor surveys and even automation of vendor approval or reapproval based upon the answers to these assessment questionnaires.
Cloud-based vendor management portals offer the added perk of allowing access to the information by multiple employees and from varying locations. This type of system helps prevent you from being caught unprepared by unexpected events that may restrict access to office spaces or the accidental destruction or corruption of individual files. However, information security concerns must be considered when considering cloud services.
EMBRACE THE AUDIT PROCESS
Instead of the usual dread that accompanies the result of an audit or exam, genuinely embracing the process and bringing your internal auditors into the risk management team will pay dividends. Your internal audit team will have access to the results of an external audit or exam document. They can assist with customizing your business practices to mitigate vendor risk.
Every single item in an audit should receive a response. It is acceptable to simply note that you have accepted and assumed the risk associated with a specific practice. However, you should still quantify that potential risk and record your response to it. This helps to paint a more accurate portrait of the risk management process and identify key risk indicators for vendor management.
TAILOR YOUR DUE DILIGENCE PRACTICES
Not all vendor risk assessments are created equal. You should prioritize third-party vendors that hold customer PPI or information that affects your business continuity. Expending more effort on critical third-party vendor risk assessments means you are placing adequate attention to where it can most directly benefit you.
Another critical component of this particular tip is to create templates for vendor risk assessments, questionnaires, document requests, and other related items in advance. These should be sent as early as possible to current or potential vendors to facilitate the review of any possible risks as early as possible. If you have implemented some of the technology that we recommended earlier, it can even be programmed to do a good portion of this automatically.
REGULARLY KEEP VENDOR FILES CURRENT
Contact information, contract end or renewal dates, and periodic assessment or audit dates should all be recorded, and these records should all be maintained within the same vendor management program. Your team should also know who the risk management personnel are at each of your vendors, and that information must be kept up to date as well. Outdated information can be worse than a lack of information in the first place. Partnering with these vendors' own risk management personnel will ensure that your vendors place the same amount of importance on the risk management process that you do.
APPLY SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS WHERE THEY FIT
Your risk management personnel will not be information security specialists in many cases. If you are fortunate enough to have some with that experience, you can use them appropriately. Otherwise, you would be best served by looking to other internal departments to find these subject matter experts that you can integrate into your risk management teams.
Another option is to outsource these tasks to a third party equipped with their experts. When it comes to time-saving, outsourcing to a vendor for these services allows you to make the most of your resources. Your personnel can remain dedicated to the tasks at hand. At the same time, you contract with an agency to provide an in-depth evaluation of things like your vendors' own cybersecurity policies and their data storage and transmission procedures.
These time management tips for vendor risk managers can help to streamline your vendor risk management process, but when you find that you could be better served by a team of subject matter experts, Venture Lynk can provide that service for you. Venture Lynk offers the experience of prior military intelligence personnel who provide full-spectrum analysis and assessment of your vendor risk management processes within your vendor management program.