The vendor risk assessment process is a critical step for securing your data, however, it comes with challenges. A single vendor risk assessment can take weeks (sometimes many months) to complete. Additionally, the impact on productivity is significant as staff are taken away from their normal priorities to work on time-consuming assessments, instead of strategic initiatives.
In this article, we’ll outline five best practices to streamline the vendor risk assessment process, enabling you to evaluate and onboard third parties in less time, while still maintaining adequate security and compliance.
1. Use Your Business Owners to Your Advantage
When you begin vendor risk assessment outreach, there is an element of internal business politics at hand. Key business stakeholders may already be engaging with a vendor and may be sensitive to any communication. As a result, transparency is key. The assessment team can benefit by inform the business owner that an assessment is necessary. Additionally, business owners can provide value by giving you insight into the vendor relationship, as well as be your champion throughout the process. The business owner is invested in seeing the swift assessment and onboarding of the vendor because it is likely that the new tool or supplier will increase their team’s productivity.
2. Make Your Purpose Clear to the Vendor Before Sending the Risk Assessment
When sending out a vendor risk assessment to a third party, it’s helpful to first send a brief communication ahead of time letting them know why they are receiving the assessment and who to expect the email from. This eliminates any uncertainty, reduces phishing suspicion, and helps establish trust with the vendor.
3. Set a Tight Timeline and Expect Delays
Setting a short timeline (typically 5 business days) is key to completing a vendor risk assessment quickly. Those sending the assessment should expect that a vendor will ask for an extension. With this in mind, a two-week turnaround time is achievable. Ultimately, the longer you give a vendor, the longer it takes for an assessment to get completed.
4. Tailor the Vendor Risk Assessment Based on Inherent Risks and the Vendor’s Security Program Maturity
Understanding which vendors pose the greatest risks is critical to acting swiftly and effectively. Vendors with high inherent risks may require a more detailed assessment. Additionally, the more mature a vendor’s security program is, the more likely they will be able to provide quick and clear answers to your security questionnaire. On the flip side, when a vendor has a less mature security program, it is likely that they will be unable to answer many questions, meaning a 900-question assessment may be overwhelming an unproductive for both parties.
5. Make It Easier for the Vendor to Respond
Getting a vendor to respond to an assessment is a difficult task, so by making the process easier, the more likely you are to get an assessment complete faster. To accomplish this, businesses should give can send vendors an industry-standard assessment, share an assessment through a cyber risk exchange, or provide an easy-to-use online questionnaire completion portal.
Don’t Want to Handle the Vendor Risk Assessment Process Yourself?
OneTrust Vendorpedia offers Vendor Chasing Services™ through the Cyber Risk Exchange. Essentially, our team performs your vendor risk assessments for you, enabling you to focus on more strategic projects. Request a demo today to learn more!