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Interview with Vendor Management PMO/EPMO Expert

Apr 8, 2019 by Branan Cooper

As part of our Venminder Thought Leadership series where we speak with the industry’s sought-after thought leaders for their perspective and advice on third parties, mitigating risk, best practices, trends and more, I had the opportunity to speak with Jennie Fowler, Director of EPMO and Vendor Management Officer at American Credit Acceptance. 

Jennie brings 23 years of experience in the IT and enterprise project management sectors. She has started and/or matured 7 PMO/EPMOs in her career in roles such as Head of IT PMO, Head of EPMO and even CIO. Along with a master’s degree, Jennie has several certifications and formal training in project management as she also is a leader in enterprise project management. As a speaker, she has partnered with organizations such as local PMI chapter(s), Women in Technology group(s) and the Executive CIO Forum & IT Summit. Jennie will be an Expert Speaker in the upcoming Gartner PPM Summit in June on communication with the “C” suite.

Jennie Fowler Interview Highlights

During our time, we covered:

  • Why third party risk success isn’t one size fits all
  • How to obtain executive buy-in
  • Fifth party expectations
  • And more…

How Are Organizations Doing at Third Party Risk? It’s Not a One Size Fits All

During our discussion, Jennie and I touched on how organizations are doing regarding third party risk overall. We concluded that you can’t answer the question with a one size fits all response. The reason being, mid-size and larger organizations likely have the resources available to assist and, therefore, struggle less whereas the smaller organizations probably do struggle a little more. Regulators don’t give a break to an organization simply because they’re smaller; they must abide by the same rules and regulations, too.

How to Obtain Executive Buy-In    

Keeping the theme going, Jennie shared her expertise in obtaining executive buy-in and how it’s also not a one size fits all response. The process to obtain executive buy-in and support from the C-suite is going to vary greatly depending on the size of the organization. The size of your C-suite will impact the decision-making process as well. Here’s an example that Jennie shared outlining usual expectations she tends to see:

  • At a smaller organization, you’ll probably need to give them more detail.
  • At a mid-sized organization, you’ll probably need to give them a high level overview with an appendix at the end of what you’re providing.
  • At a larger organization, they just need to understand why, how this affects them and exactly what you need from them right now in order to decide.

A few helpful takeaways that Jennie shared:

  1. The first slide should always contain exactly what you need from the C-suite, instead of the last slide.
  2. Attempt to cut whatever time you think you need for the meeting in half. Remember, their time is valuable and scarce.
  3. Give them three proposals with three possible answers. Note which one you’re hoping they will pick.

Fifth Party Vendors – Will We Have to Track Them, Too?

Jennie and I briefly chatted about where 2019 will take us in the industry from a regulatory compliance  perspective. Remember when it became important to start tracking your fourth parties, and all the questions that everyone had? Well, just to make it a little more perplexing, fifth parties may be thrown into the mix. She predicts there will be a heavier focus on critical fifth party tracking as it’s been brought up periodically in the industry.

In addition, Jennie agrees that security will still be at the forefront, like it has been in previous years. Regulations around security, particularly at the state level, are only getting more rigorous.

Venminder would like to thank Jennie for sharing her insight and participating in this thought leadership interview. To hear more from her interview, you can check it out here.

Reporting to senior management is a requirement of regulatory guidance. Download the infographic.

Regulatory Developments Impact Your Next Vendor Management Exam eBook

Branan Cooper

Written by Branan Cooper

Branan Cooper is the Chief Risk Officer at Venminder. Branan has nearly 30 years of experience in the financial services industry with a focus on the management of operational and regulatory processes and controls—most notably in the area of third party risk and operational compliance. Branan leads the Venminder delivery team as the third party risk management subject matter expert in residence. Branan also serves as an industry thought leader. He's a member of InfraGard and the Professional Risk Management Industry Association (PRMIA). And, he was selected in 2018 as an advisor to the Center for Financial Professionals (CEFPro) and board member for the Global Sourcing Resource Network (GSRN).

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