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Moving from Vendor Management Policy to Practice

3 min read
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Building a third-party risk management (TPRM) program is no easy feat. The process requires a lot of collaboration from many individuals and ongoing adjustments to ensure that it’ll function properly for your organization.

6 Tips to Move Vendor Management Policy Requirements Into Practice

To begin, create a vendor management policy which is generally a board or executive leadership set of requirements for what must be accomplished in third-party risk management. After you’ve sorted out your vendor management policy details, you’ll need an effective strategy to put it into practice.

Here are a few tips that will ensure the process to move policy into practice runs smoothly:

  1. Involve Senior Management/Board: Set the “tone-from-the-top” and enlist a senior leader to promote the policy to the rest of the organization. There may be less opposition to new requirements and procedures if senior management can justify the significance.
  2. Execute a Phased Approach: It’s probably unrealistic or not manageable to implement a hefty vendor management policy all at once. Instead, use a phased approach that’s appropriate to your organization’s capabilities. Break up more extensive duties into smaller tasks but ensure that deadlines are met and sufficient.
  3. Coordinate Training and Education for Your Teams: Take the time to prepare training materials and educate your teams on the importance and strategic advantages of risk management. Proper training will help ease the transition into a new process. Ensure your training is structured to educate the users on the topic of third-party risk management and how to execute the TPRM process within your organization. Other training materials such as checklists, desktop procedures and FAQs are often helpful for first-time vendor owners practicing third-party risk management.
  4. Implement a Consistent Contracting Process: Establishing a consistent process for creating and maintaining vendor contracts is one of the most essential components of your vendor management policy. This will ensure that your organization’s standards and expectations are clearly defined for your vendors. Your vendor contracts are also the only way to legally dispute any issues that arise from things like unmet service level agreements. Setting the expectation that contracts will need to comply with the TPRM policy requires educating the first line vendor owners and those responsible for drafting and approving the contracts.
  5. Emphasize Continuous Improvement: Although creating a vendor management policy requires a lot of work and cooperation from many different people, don’t be tempted to treat it as a set of processes that never change. You may need to rewrite procedures, or adjust workflows, to ensure that your vendor managers understand their required tasks and complete them efficiently and effectively. Stakeholder feedback is a critical component of improving any process. Ensure you have a consistent mechanism to receive feedback and a way to let your stakeholders know how you’re processing and incorporating that feedback into your improvement plans.
  6. Prepare for Common Obstacles: It’s not uncommon for new TPRM programs to face some challenges in the beginning. One of the most typical being resistance from the first line of business vendor owners. Often the addition of third-party management responsibilities can seem burdensome to the vendor owner. In this situation, your best resources are that “tone-from-the-top” support from senior leadership as well as practical training and educational resources being made available to the affected stakeholders. Other challenges are usually related to confusion related to roles and responsibilities throughout the TPRM lifecycle. Creating a detailed RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed) chart that aligns with the TPRM lifecycle processes to the relevant stakeholder removes any misunderstanding.

Moving from a vendor management policy to an organizational practice will likely take some time and hard work, but these tips should help ease the transition. With the right tools and collaborative teamwork, your organization can maximize the value of your third-party vendor relationships.

Having a successful third-party risk management program will help ease the transition from policy to practice. Download the eBook. 

Framework for successful TPRM

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