3 Signs You’re Not Ready for Vendor Risk Assessment Software Yet

By Imarc

Posted on Nov 28, 2015

Vendor Risk Software Not a Panacea for Vendor Management

An expanding threat and security risk environment from an ever-increasing vendor pool has you doing more robust risk analyses of your vendors, so you think you may need Vendor Risk Assessment Software (VRAS) very soon. The feeling that your vendor risk management processes are getting away from you is intruding more and more, and that vendor risk levels are increasing beyond your capacity to manage them. Vendor management workloads are high, and processes feel broken or unorganized.

Recent ESG research of 303 security professionals found that 34% of organizations have experienced an increase in the number of external third parties, such as vendors and suppliers, with access to internal assets, so it's no wonder you are feeling the vendor risk management pressure.

In addition, some vendors have complained that sections of your questionnaire do not apply to them. Other vendors are challenging their position and change in your risk profile of them, and are questioning your methodology. At the same time, the risk from vendors continues to become an inherited issue for your company to manage, and executives are paying attention. The question is whether your organization is ready to take on and support a new implementation of a major piece of new software.

Is VRAS the solution for you right now? Maybe. But are you ready?

Take the Time to Fully Assess Where You Are

It may be a good idea to evaluate technologies that can speed up manual processes and help vendor risk managers become more organized, but ultimately, no single piece of vendor management technology can ever substitute for broken processes and strained resources.  

Remember, there is ramp up time, a learning curve for your team, and potential technology integration issues with any newly installed, on-premises tool, so it may be more prudent to work on what needs to be fixed first in your department. You may also want to review Software as a Service and cloud-based solutions. 

Tip for SecurityScorecard Customers: Type in a website address into the platform to retrieve an instant and detailed security-risk scorecard, without intruding on a vendor’s system or needing a vendor's permission.

add-a-vendor-security-scorecard

 You may need to become more prepared to take full advantage of a VRAS solution as you improve your own processes. Read on to find out the issues you need to be wary of before diving head on into the technology-first mindset.

When Not to Pull the VRAS Trigger

Reason #1: You cannot automate what is not under control yet

Your processes are mostly manual. Your documentation is not up-to-date. Internal checks and balances occasionally go by the wayside. Your ability to remain ahead of everything has been sacrificed as routine items regularly get stamped urgent and priorities shift.

How to get your vendor management processes locked down:

  • Flow your existing processes by:
    • Identifying gaps
    • Noting places where controls are not working properly
    • Logging all the barriers that need to be removed or mitigated
    • Planning how you are going fix everything – get buy-in – and implement
  • Hire a freelance technical writer to get your documentation up-to-date

Reason #2: You cannot innovate before you renovate

You are not 100% sure all your vendor management bases are covered. Your gut tells you that there are better ways of doing things. You feel like you do not have the time to figure it out, and your staff is already overworked. The old saying about alligators and draining swamps keeps running through your head.

How to figure out where you are and what you really need:

  • Get an outside expert to do a process and controls review, and make recommendations for improvements
  • Make sure they are familiar with all the regulations governing your vendor business model
  • Identify both current and future needs, and plan how you are going to manage change and growth
  • Determine when currently used applications will no longer be sufficient

Reason #3: Your management is not convinced yet that you need VRAS

You are busy and beginning to spend more time at the office. Management has started making noises about your staff’s overtime. Business projections have you worried. On the one hand, it is a good worry. On the other hand, you do not know how many additional vendors it will take before you can convince management to go the VRAS or SaaS route.

How to manifest management’s magic number and give them something to say yes to:

  • Begin gathering information
    • Make sure to include current and pending changes in vendor management regulations
    • Obtain whitepapers, case studies, reviews and articles on Vendor Risk Assessment Software
    • Find comparative studies for products
  • Do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, and a 5-year vendor projection estimate
  • Complete a cost analysis, and pinpoint the cost-savings and productivity numbers most likely to sway management to approve a purchase order for the software

Put yourself in the best position to make the most of VRAS after implementing these strategies. You will be in a much stronger place to take advantage of the technology after using this approach.

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