How to Create a Mature Third-Party Risk Management Program

4 minute read

August 2021

Whether building a program from scratch or improving an existing program, third-party risk management (TPRM) requires a strategic road map with enterprisewide integration. Creating a plan for program maturity helps organizations align their third-party risk management processes with their risk-reduction goals. However, achieving this “future-state” can be challenging with limited resources. Many organizations are turning to managed service providers and program consultants to help them with their evolution to a sustainable, effective third-party risk management program.

Managed Services and Program Consulting can benefit your TPRM program by providing objective insight without massive resource expenditure. This article walks through a step-by-step plan for creating a mature third-party risk management program based on expertise from the Crowe Third-Party Risk Management Center of Excellence. The Crowe team offers a three-stage process for building maturity in your third-party risk management program using managed services or program consulting.

Managed Services for Third Party Risk Management

Stage 1 – Plan a Third-Party Risk Management Program Based on Your Organization’s Needs

An outside perspective of your third-party risk management program is valuable. That’s why an independent assessment of your TPRM program is the first step towards envisioning future goals. Consultants lay the foundation for a program road map by conducting an objective evaluation of your program’s posture. They review existing documents and interview key stakeholders to understand the current practices, pain points and future goals related to the third-party life cycle. During this critical step, key stakeholders help shape the program trajectory while delineating their roles and responsibilities.

The collected information provides a sense of how your program aligns with industry-standard best practices. Additionally, the organization receives a current state report containing information on the existing program and specific recommendations for a mature third-party risk management program. Current state reports provide a phased road map approach that can be presented to leadership.

Stage 2 – Integrate Third-Party Risk Management Software

Implementing the right vendor risk management software is essential in maturing your program. It’s worth considering what benefits automation might provide your program as you’ll need to scale workflows to quantify risk in a consistent, repeatable fashion. Automation increases data quality, allowing for enhanced vendor risk assessments with automatic questionnaire generation aligned to specific risks.

Third-party risk management software can also centralize your program and facilitate governance with user-based access. Ideally, this includes a portal for vendors to provide evidence of important data. A consulting team can help your organization understand the key features to look for in a vendor risk management platform.

Your newly designed program should have a clear end goal in mind. While an organization might not plan to use all solution features on day one, having an end goal will ensure that necessary features are ready while the program matures.

Stage 3 – Leverage Managed Services

By working through the first two phases with a consulting team, you now have a trusted partner who understands your program as well as you do – from initial design to implementation. The final phase is to execute your program with the help of a managed service provider (MSP) that can support the maturity of your program.

After all, assessing and managing third-party risk can be a time-intensive process. Managed service providers reduce resource drain on organizations and can help prevent them from falling behind on important tasks. Their third-party risk subject-matter experts can increase program efficiency by managing key pieces of your end-to-end process. Subject-matter experts can:

  • Review and validate information obtained in an inherent risk questionnaire
  • Scope the assessment appropriately
  • Review for appropriateness
  • Document findings
  • Manage findings until closure

MSPs have the resources to scale based on business demand by developing a deep understanding of your processes and requirements. Additionally, they can meet defined service-level agreements and provide consulting throughout program growth. Risk is often assessed at a specific point in time, but having an adaptable partner can allow your organization to assess risk as it evolves.

Team Up with the Right Managed Service Provider

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to third-party risk management. Different industries and organization sizes present unique challenges. Having a partner that is dedicated to understanding your unique needs and is involved in each step of your third-party risk management program implementation process has proven to be a dependable way to reach your desired level of maturity.

Crowe’s specialized third-party risk management team works with clients to re-envision their programs – including showing clients how to leverage leading techniques, automation, and data-driven actions. Crowe provides a framework and a sustainable process for assessing and appropriately managing the third-party risks an organization faces. Crowe can also help clients execute their programs, providing managed services and ongoing monitoring. To learn more about Crowe TPRM services, visit

ProcessUnity Assessments as a Service with Crowe

ProcessUnity has partnered with Crowe to integrate expert third-party risk assessment services into ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management. Leveraging Assessments as a Service with Crowe, you can count on top-flight assessment services to help you govern your extended enterprise with greater efficiency and confidence — even as the number and complexity of your third-party relationships continues to grow.

Download the ProcessUnity Assessments as a Service with Crowe datasheet to learn more.

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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