Collaboration with third parties, such as suppliers, contractors, and vendors, gives organizations the flexibility to scale and expand into new markets. Still, it may also expose companies to danger to their finances and reputation. Therefore, it is essential to manage third-party relationship risk if you want to keep your organization safe.
Monitoring and addressing cybersecurity flaws is a specific focus of third party risk management tool. However, it should go much further than that, as it encompasses various additional factors, including safety protocols, environmental effects, corporate moral conduct, and corruption. The reputation of the firm hiring them is directly impacted by how third-party vendors or service providers conduct themselves. Even while third-party management for organizations can be challenging, it has several advantages when done effectively.
Reasons Why Businesses Should Consider Third-Party Risk
Organizations must create new tools and procedures for recognizing and monitoring risks in their supplier bases as supply chains transform into multidimensional networks. This is due to several recent events, such as shifting consumer preferences and a heightened curiosity about manufacturing. Recent years have shown how crucial it is for businesses to control the environmental impact of their supply chains if they want to win back their customers.
Consumer shopping habits have also changed, and now they anticipate that things will always be readily available with simple return policies. Organizations need to monitor their upstream and downstream supply networks more actively.
Furthermore, the realization that supply chain disruptions will likely become more frequent in the future has been prompted by events like Brexit, influenza, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Businesses will increasingly need to focus on four critical risks in their third-party management program to withstand these changes:
Reputational: Purchasing components or goods from nations subject to sanctions, for instance, might seriously harm your standing.
Financial: Suppliers with bad financial standing can present a danger to your company since, if they cannot be quickly replaced, their insolvency may affect your ability to conduct business.
Health, Safety, and Environment: Poor supplier performance in health, safety, and the environment could damage the security and welfare of your workers or put your reputation at risk.
Cyber: Organizations are becoming more frequent targets of cyberattacks, such as ransomware and business espionage.
Keeping Away from the Traps
Since it is the most straightforward to analyze from the outside, organizations have traditionally concentrated on monitoring the financial risks of their suppliers.
Organizations will need to take two extra steps as the hazards grow in number:
- First, gain access to more accurate but difficult-to-find data (for example, the environmental impact of a supplier operating in another country).
- Establish a system of information exchange with your suppliers, either formally through contractual KPIs or informally through open channels.
Information & Understanding Are Essential for Managing Risk
The difficulty, though, is that getting access to the appropriate data to input into risk KPIs and monitoring procedures can be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, it frequently depends on the cooperation of second-, third-, and fourth-tier suppliers who might not have many reasons to share their production, financial, environmental, and other data.
The answer is to thoroughly narrow down the lengthy list of potential risks to those that could have a material impact on your organization and then put procedures and informational flow systems in place for continual risk monitoring. Increase your company’s risk tolerance whenever possible, whether by stocking more inventory, using several suppliers, or internalizing some of the manufacturing.
A further step is establishing specialized supply chain risk monitoring teams collaborating across departments to identify, track, and manage risks. These teams may leverage data from internal teams or relevant outside information sources. As businesses strive to demonstrate that their supply chains are “green” or free of unethical labor practices, having access to this information is becoming more and more crucial. However, it may be challenging to source, so putting together a specialized team should make this process easier.
The Function of Data-Driven Third-Party Evaluations
A third party risk management tool is ultimately only as good as the data that powers it. An increasing demand for data-driven third-party evaluation is emerging as risk advances up management teams’ priority lists. This is due to two factors:
First, it enables more automated risk monitoring quicker than the present labor-intensive method. Much of the tedious work of risk management may be automated if your organization can locate the appropriate data streams and create the appropriate tools to use that data, such as data-driven dashboards to streamline monitoring and reporting.
Second, it lessens the chance of missing or underestimating emerging trends. Risk management has always involved a lot of labor-intensive, slow effort. Since it is simple to overlook dangers when they arise, risk management teams concentrate more on incident reaction than proactive risk identification and mitigation. Instead, combining the appropriate data sources into a risk dashboard necessitates evaluating a more considerable number of potential risks, spotting emerging trends early, and taking appropriate action before they materialize into real problems.
Finally, it’s critical to acknowledge the versatility of third party risk management solutions. The finance unit needs to contribute to and take action on financial risks, IT needs to take action on cyber threats, and the entire company needs to take action on reputational risks. Supplier risk teams should be established as separate teams with a mandate to work cross-functionally, even if they may report to supply chain or procurement management. It will be less likely for third-party breaches to slip through the cracks if there are departments entirely responsible for overseeing third-party contacts.
Third-party risk management is a continuous process emphasizing proactive prevention and overreactive response. It presents a problem that can be solved with information, teamwork, and effective communication.