Understanding Vendor Risk Management 

Vendor risk management (VRM) is a big deal for any business, especially for small and medium-sized ones that depend on outside vendors for crucial services and products. 

A detailed guide illustrating the five essential steps to conduct a vendor risk assessment effectively.

Why Vendor Risk Management Matters?

VRM is a must-have for keeping your business safe, running smoothly, and staying on the right side of the law. This is super important for industries like finance and healthcare, where rules are strict. With VRM, your security team can spot problems before they happen, instead of just reacting when things go wrong. This proactive approach is key in today’s world, where third-party vendors are part of the daily grind. 

Vendor risk management is also vital because businesses rely on vendors for essential services. There are risks like data breaches, privacy issues, legal compliance, keeping the business running, protecting your reputation, and getting the best bang for your buck. 

Types of Vendor Risks 

Vendor risks come in all shapes and sizes, affecting different parts of your business. Here are some of the big ones: 

  • Regulatory Compliance: Making sure vendors follow the law to avoid fines and bad press. 
  • Financial Stability: Checking if vendors are financially sound to prevent disruptions if they go belly up. 
  • Fraudulent Activities: Spotting and stopping fraud that might involve a third-party vendor. 
  • Cybersecurity Threats: Guarding against data breaches and other security issues from vendor vulnerabilities. 
  • Operational Risks: Handling risks of operational hiccups due to vendor performance problems. 
  • Business Continuity: Ensuring vendors have backup plans to keep services running during crises. 
  • Reputational Damage: Protecting your brand from being tarnished by vendor misconduct or failures. 

To tackle these risks, you need a thorough vendor risk assessment process and solid strategies to manage them. By getting a grip on vendor risks, you can keep your business secure, maintain customer trust, and set yourself up for long-term success. For more tips on managing these risks, check out the basic rules in risk management and techniques for management of risks. 

Best Practices in Vendor Risk Management 

Managing vendor risks is crucial for keeping your business safe and sound. These best practices help you get the most out of your vendor relationships while dodging potential pitfalls. 

Picking the Right Vendor 

Choosing the right vendor is the first step to solid vendor risk management. This means doing your homework to check out a vendor’s financial health, business habits, and whether they follow the rules. 

Here’s how to pick a vendor: 

  • Know what you need: Be clear about what you want from a vendor so you can find one that fits the bill. 
  • Check their skills: Make sure the vendor has the tools and know-how to do the job. 
  • Look at their history: See how they’ve performed with other clients. 
  • Check their finances: Ensure they’re financially stable to avoid any business hiccups. 
  • Do a risk check: Use a risk assessment process to spot any potential risks. 
  • Verify compliance: Make sure the vendor follows industry standards and rules, especially in regulated fields like finance and healthcare. 

Doing your due diligence gives you a clear picture to help you make the right choice. For more on how to evaluate a vendor, check out our section on evaluating a vendor. 

Keeping an Eye on Vendors 

After picking a vendor, it’s important to keep tabs on them to ensure they stick to the agreed standards and to catch any new risks early. This means regular check-ins and reassessments of their performance and security. 

Key parts of continuous monitoring include: 

  • Security checks: Use security ratings to keep an eye on vendors for any security issues. 
  • Performance reviews: Regularly check if the vendor is meeting the agreed-upon service levels. 
  • Compliance checks: Ensure the vendor continues to follow industry rules and standards. 
  • Incident plans: Make sure the vendor has strong plans to handle any security breaches or incidents. 
  • Contract reviews: Regularly revisit contracts to ensure terms are still good and reflect any changes in risks or business needs. 

By keeping a close watch, you can catch problems early and adapt quickly, keeping your VRM program strong. Learn more about the importance of ongoing oversight in our article on continuous vendor monitoring. 

In short, the best practices in vendor risk management boil down to two main activities: thorough selection and due diligence, followed by continuous monitoring to ensure vendors keep meeting your standards. Together, these practices create a solid framework for managing risk and maintaining strong vendor relationships. For more tips on VRM, check out our detailed articles on risk management practices and vendor risk assessment. 

Key Elements of Vendor Risk Management 

Vendor Risk Management (VRM) is all about making sure your business doesn’t get burned by third-party vendors. It’s a crucial part of keeping your company safe and sound. Let’s break down the essentials of VRM, from initial risk checks to keeping a close eye on vendors over time. 

Risk Assessment and Remediation 

Risk assessments are like a health check for your vendor relationships. They help you spot potential problems like cybersecurity threats, data privacy issues, compliance headaches, and even financial or reputational damage. 

Here’s how to handle it: 

  • Identify Vendor Risks: Look at different types of risks, such as profiled risk, inherent risk, and residual risk. 
  • Assess and Score Risks: Use a risk matrix to rate each risk based on how bad it could be and how likely it is to happen. 
  • Map Risks to Standards: Align these risks with key compliance and security frameworks like ISO and NIST. 
  • Calculate Risk Score: Use the formula: Likelihood x Impact = Risk. 
  • Remediate Risks: Fix any unacceptable risks before signing on the dotted line with a vendor. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: Keep an eye on things constantly, because periodic checks might not catch everything.

    risk assessment process is all about staying ahead of potential problems. It helps you mitigate third-party risks, making your organization more prepared for any hiccups and showing regulators that you’re on top of things. 

Vendor Governance Framework 

Having a solid vendor governance framework is like having a playbook for managing vendors. It usually includes: 

  • Policies and Procedures: Clear rules on how to manage and monitor vendors. 
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Who does what in managing risk from vendors. 
  • Vendor Evaluation Criteria: How to evaluate a vendor and decide how important they are to your business. 
  • Review Schedule: Regular check-ins and audits of vendor performance and compliance. 
  • Enforcement Mechanisms: What happens if a vendor doesn’t play by the rules. 

A good governance framework keeps everything consistent. It ensures that all vendors meet the same standards, helping you catch and manage any risks they might bring. 

By nailing these key elements of vendor risk management, you can make your procurement process smoother, boost supply chain resilience, ace compliance audits, and avoid operational hiccups, financial losses, or legal troubles. Following best practices in risk management helps you build a strong VRM program and protect your business from the risks that come with third-party partnerships. 

Tackling Vendor Risk Management Head-On 

Vendor Risk Management (VRM) is crucial for keeping your business safe from the pitfalls of third-party vendors. But let’s be real, managing VRM can feel like juggling flaming swords. Here’s a look at the common headaches and how to handle them. 

The Vendor Maze 

These days, companies depend on a tangled web of vendors, suppliers, and service providers. Keeping track of all these moving parts is like herding cats. Each vendor brings its own set of risks, making it tough to keep an eye on everyone. 


What It Means 

Different Risk Levels 

Each vendor has its own quirks and risks. 


Vendors often hire other vendors, adding more layers of risk. 

Global Reach 

Vendors in different countries follow different rules, complicating compliance. 

To manage this chaos, you need a solid VRM strategy that goes beyond just checking boxes. Keep an eye on vendors throughout their entire lifecycle. Regular vendor risk assessments can help you sort and prioritize vendors based on how critical they are and the risks they pose. 

Policy? What Policy? 

Another big issue is that many folks in your organization might not even know your VRM policies exist. Without this knowledge, they could accidentally expose your company to risks. 


What Could Happen 

Poor Training 

Employees might miss red flags or not know how to handle vendor risks. 

Bad Communication 

VRM policies might not reach everyone who needs to know. 

Compliance Slip-Ups 

Not knowing the rules can lead to breaking them. 

To fix this, invest in training programs that make sure everyone knows the VRM policies. Regular training sessions can help employees spot and manage risks. Also, keep all VRM documents in one place where everyone can access them. 

Wrapping It Up 

Dealing with a maze of vendors and making sure everyone knows the rules are key to a strong VRM program. By tackling these challenges, you can protect your business from vendor-related risks and keep things running smoothly. 

Using Tech to Manage Vendor Risks 

A detailed guide illustrating the five essential steps to conduct a vendor risk assessment effectively.

How Tech Helps in Vendor Risk Management?

Tech is your best buddy when it comes to beefing up your Vendor Risk Management (VRM) game. With the right tools, you can juggle complex vendor networks and the risks that come with them more smoothly. These gadgets help you streamline processes, gather vendor data in one place, manage contracts, cut down risks, and make your business tougher. Plus, tech makes it easier to check out vendors, train them, and get solid analytics and reports, so you really get what’s going on with your vendor relationships. 

Take this for example: hooking up VRM with your existing AP automation systems lets you tidy up compliance and risk management workflows. This combo not only kicks third-party compliance services to the curb but also slashes overhead costs while keeping compliance standards in check. It’s a sweet spot between saving money and managing risks right. 

Perks of Automated Solutions 

Automated solutions in vendor risk management are game-changers, offering a bunch of perks that make VRM programs way more efficient and effective: 

  • Smooth Operations: Automated tools, like certificate of insurance (COI) tracking software, cut down on manual tasks in VRM processes. They make onboarding new vendors a breeze, reduce paperwork headaches, and give you a clear view of third-party risks. 
  • Instant Insights: Automation gives you quick access to crucial info, helping you react faster to potential risks and compliance issues. 
  • Better Communication: Automated tools boost communication between stakeholders, making it easier to share and get important updates about vendor management. 
  • All-around Risk Management: These solutions cover everything from checking out new vendors to keeping an eye on them throughout their lifecycle. 
  • Save Time and Money: By cutting out repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks, automated VRM solutions save your organization a ton of time and money. 
  • Fast Compliance Fixes: When compliance issues pop up, automated systems let you fix them quickly, reducing the chances of fines or damage to your reputation. 

Here’s a quick look at the benefits automation brings to VRM: 




Smooth operations and process optimization 


Fast fixes and continuous monitoring 


Real-time data and analytics 


Better info sharing 


Less manual work and lower costs 

Jumping on the automated VRM bandwagon isn’t just about getting the latest tech; it’s about turning the risk assessment process into a strategic edge. With these tools, businesses can stay ahead by spotting supplier risks, cutting down vendor risks, and keeping up with compliance. This way, you keep your operations and reputation safe in a market that’s always changing. 

Boosting Vendor Risk Management Programs 

Vendor risk management (VRM) is a big deal for businesses wanting to stay compliant and dodge risks tied to their supply chain. Making VRM programs better means mixing compliance with risk management and setting up clear steps for checking and handling risks. 

Mixing Compliance and Risk Management 

Bringing compliance and risk management together is key for a solid VRM program. By doing this, businesses can skip using different third-party compliance services, cutting costs while still following the rules. This combo makes things run smoother, saving money and managing risks well. For instance, by tying vendor risk management with current AP automation systems, businesses can keep things running smoothly and make sure vendor relationships follow laws like AML and KYC requirements. 

Why a Standardized Risk Management Process Matters?

Having a clear, standard way to manage risks is super important for checking and handling vendor risks, right. This ensures all risks are spotted, checked, and managed the same way, which is crucial for being open and responsible. Automated tools help a lot here by giving real-time updates, making communication easier, and offering various ways to manage risks. These tools save time and money by cutting down on manual work and making things run more smoothly. 

Take automated COI tracking software, for example. It can change how VRM programs work by cutting out loads of paperwork, giving a clear view of third-party risks, and allowing quick fixes for compliance issues, making vendor onboarding faster and more compliant. 

By sticking to standard processes, businesses can keep better track of Certificates of Insurance (COIs), avoid potential problems, and protect against expensive claims. Automated tools aren’t just good for managing risk but also for checking risk and making sure the right risk management practices are in place. 

When VRM programs are improved the right way, they not only help keep the company safe and compliant but also boost its long-term success and reputation. Using these best practices in VRM is a smart move for any business leader aiming for top-notch vendor management and overall risk management. 


  •   Jason Vanzin
  •   Jun 14, 2024
  •   Blog