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7 Steps to Outsource Third-Party Risk Management Activities

4 min read
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In most cases, half the battle of building or maturing a third-party risk management (TPRM) program is obtaining organizational buy-in. The next challenge is figuring out how to maximize your limited resources to ensure your TPRM stakeholders can effectively perform their duties.

For many TPRM teams, the solution is outsourcing your activities to a qualified TPRM services or software provider. This can be a great strategy to save time and effort, while still producing high-quality work. Here are some suggested steps to follow when preparing to outsource TPRM. 

7 Steps to Outsource Third-Party Risk Management    

Outsourcing TPRM can have many different meanings. Some organizations simply want to outsource a single activity, like risk assessments or due diligence collection, while others may be looking to invest in a software program that can manage the complete TPRM lifecycle. 

The following steps can be helpful regardless of the activity your organization wants to outsource: 

  1. Determine the need and value – Begin the process by determining why you need to outsource certain activities and how this can bring value to your organization. Consider whether outsourcing can help your organization identify and monitor third-party risk more effectively than your current processes. Be specific and identify your current challenges. 

    For example, you may be struggling with disorganized data and reporting, or have too many time-consuming manual tasks. 
  2. Research your options – Just as you would with any new vendor, it’s important to do your research on the different types of TPRM software that can meet your organization’s needs. There’s a lot to consider during this step, beyond the functionality of the software and the services provided. Make sure you understand the support options and any add-ons you may want to implement as your program matures. Read the TPRM software product reviews and consider talking to current customers about their experience with the software. 
  3. Obtain approval – Once you have a clear understanding of what you need and the options available, you’ll be better prepared to put together a solid proposal that outlines the benefits, costs, and risks of the proposed solution. This proposal can then be used to solicit approval from relevant stakeholders and secure the necessary budget to move forward with the implementation process. By taking the time to research and plan carefully, you can increase the likelihood of approval and minimize potential problems down the road. 
  4. Onboard the provider – After you’ve done your research and selected a suitable solution, you can proceed with your organization’s vendor onboarding process. If you’re onboarding new software, you’ll likely need to consult with internal departments like information security. Follow your internal policies and procedures for vendor onboarding and notify all relevant stakeholders once the onboarding is complete. 
  5. Schedule training – If the TPRM software requires changes to your existing processes, you’ll need to document them and inform your stakeholders. It’s also a good idea to offer some training on the new process if the changes are substantial. New software can have a learning curve, so make sure to set some time for training and educating the individuals who will be using it. Take advantage of any training sessions the software vendor offers, especially when there are new updates or releases. Reading additional resources from the TPRM software vendor can help optimize how you use it.
  6. Set up workflows and automations – TPRM software will have limited value unless you take the time upfront to set up appropriate workflows and automations your organization will use. Think about significant dates you want to track, like contract renewals or risk re-assessments, and set up automatic alerts that will remind you to complete these tasks. TPRM software may also help create templates for tasks like risk assessments  and vendor questionnaires. 
  7. Centralize vendor information – Depending on the size of your vendor inventory and the type of activity you’re outsourcing, this step will likely take some time. Consider different aspects of the vendor relationship, such as the products and services they provide, criticality and risk level, vendor owner, and contract expiration. 

steps outsource third-party risk management activities

3 Qualities of Successful Third-Party Risk Management Outsourcing  

It’s important to evaluate your outsourcing arrangement on a regular basis to ensure the TPRM software vendor continues to meet your needs. 

Here are some qualities of a successful outsourcing relationship:

  • Regular communication – Is the vendor responsive to your questions or concerns? Are they proactive in letting you know about any issues with their products or services? Good communication from your TPRM software vendor is essential to maintain trust in your partnership.
  • Ongoing innovationTPRM is a business practice that continues to grow with new challenges, such as changing regulatory requirements and evolving third-party risks. It’s important to consider whether your TPRM software is committed to investing in innovative tools or technology that will address these new challenges.
  • Proven expertise – When you’re outsourcing TPRM activities and using software to mature your program, it helps to collaborate with industry and subject matter experts that can offer feedback on suggested improvements. These individuals should be familiar with TPRM best practices that can improve your organization’s processes.

When your organization makes the decision to invest in new software or outsource TPRM activities to qualified vendors, you need to be confident in your research and planning to successfully implement your new solutions. Whether you choose to invest in TPRM software or outsource some of your TPRM activities, laying a solid foundation for success will ensure you achieve the anticipated value of your solution and strengthen and mature your TPRM program. 

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