Why Organizations Automate Vendor Risk Assessments

3 minute read

September 2021

It’s a fact increasingly validated with each third-party data breach: when an organization brings on a new vendor, they acquire their risk too. Third-party security breaches can easily affect an organization’s client network, interrupt business operations, and damage an organization’s reputation by association. Third-party risk management teams must take extensive measures to evaluate the security preparedness of their third parties with vendor risk assessments.  

However, creating an efficient vendor risk assessment process is easier said than done. With the use of third-party services growing each year, teams can easily become inundated with a backlog of vendor assessments. Worse, these assessments can drop in quality as service providers develop backlogs of their own. Too often organizations compromise the effectiveness of their vendor assessments by taking a one-size-fits-all approach to questionnaires. 

Fortunately, automation can step in to help speed up the process and deliver accurate insight into a vendor’s risk posture.

The Vendor Risk Assessment Process: Where Organizations Lose Efficiency

A typical vendor risk assessment occurs at two stages of the vendor lifecycle: onboarding and ongoing monitoring. 

During onboarding, vendor risk management teams evaluate a vendor’s inherent risk and residual risk, then analyze the results against established security metrics. Based on the vendor’s responses, the team may assign ratings or scorecards. This stage should provide clarity into a vendor’s overall risk profile to help establish an ongoing monitoring cadence.  

Sending the same vendor questionnaire to every vendor may seem initially efficient, but it inevitably leads to an inaccurate understanding of the vendor’s risk profile. This practice often fatigues vendors as they are asked to answer irrelevant questions. 

To make matters worse, organizations typically base their ongoing monitoring efforts on inherent and residual risk scores. Vendor fatigue increases the risk that vendors do not complete the questionnaire accurately, which jeopardizes the validity of their risk scores. 

The vendor risk assessment process is designed to allow teams to gather data on the risk level posed by the contracted vendors – which then allows the team to address issues outside of established tolerances. Assessment backlogs can bottleneck productivity and stifle other projects as teams wrestle growing liabilities.  

The Benefits of Automated Vendor Risk Assessments

Automating the vendor questionnaire process can provide extensive benefits, including:  

  • Automated Delivery on a Pre-Defined Schedule: Upcoming vendor assessment notifications ensure that assessments are completed on time, helping to alleviate backlogs. 
  • Self-Scoping Vendor Questionnaires: Intelligent questionnaires self-adjust in real-time based on vendor responses, so vendors only receive questions that are relevant to them, reducing vendor fatigue.  
  • Issue Flagging via Preferred Responses: Preferred responses for each question can be set, then unsatisfactory responses are automatically flagged when vendor risk assessments are submitted.  
  • Increased Collaboration: A recent article from SecurityScorecard outlines how organizations use an automated platform to centralize communication with third parties. This enables proactive risk mitigation by expediting vendor issue remediation. 

Automation helps to scale every aspect of the vendor risk assessment process. This allows your organization to accurately evaluate more vendors while avoiding backlogs. 

How ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management Automates Vendor Risk Assessments

ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management automatically scopes vendor risk assessments at key stages of the third-party lifecycle. ProcessUnity VRM automates delivery of vendor assessments and allows for a cadence to be established – letting teams appropriately schedule and allocate resources to meet necessary deadlines and reduce inefficiencies.   

To learn how your organization can replace spreadsheet-based questionnaires with automated vendor risk assessments, request a ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management demo today.  

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About Us

ProcessUnity is a leading provider of cloud-based applications for risk and compliance management. The company’s software as a service (SaaS) platform gives organizations the control to assess, measure, and mitigate risk and to ensure the optimal performance of key business processes. ProcessUnity’s flagship solution, ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management, protects companies and their brands by reducing risks from third-party vendors and suppliers. ProcessUnity helps customers effectively and efficiently assess and monitor both new and existing vendors – from initial due diligence and onboarding through termination. Headquartered outside of Boston, Massachusetts, ProcessUnity is used by the world’s leading financial service firms and commercial enterprises. For more information, visit www.processunity.com.