Managing Risk in the Third-Party Ecosystem Managing Risk in the Third-Party Ecosystem

Third-Party Risk Management Guide

What is Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM)?

Businesses outsource their tasks to third-party service providers to lower costs and improve customer deliverables. These third parties could be vendors, suppliers, contractors, or even partners.

However, businesses face myriad challenges, including data security, financial, compliance and reputational risks due to such outsourcing. Companies therefore need to conduct due diligence on crucial risks on a continual basis.

Corporations face many risks due to outsourcing their tasks to third-party service providers. These are called third-party risks. The process of identifying, reporting, managing, and mitigating such risks is called third-party risk management (TPRM).

Why is Third-Party Risk Management so Important?

Most organizations have third-party relationships for managing different aspects of their operations that may negatively impact them financially or otherwise. TPRM helps businesses manage the consequences of such adverse impacts and protect them when facing third-party incidents.

Some of the best practices of TPRM are as follows:

1. Prioritize Vendor Inventory

Businesses may prioritize their vendors on the following parameters:

Tier 1: These suppliers are strategic and critical to the company. They expose the company to high risk. Therefore, organizations carry out rigorous evaluations of tier 1 suppliers, including visiting their sites.

Tier 2: These suppliers expose businesses to medium risk and are less significant than tier 1. However, they are essential, and proper due diligence needs to be carried out before appointing the third party.

Tier 3: These suppliers are low risk and less important to businesses and are easily replaced.

2. Leverage Automation Wherever Possible

Organizations can leverage technology to drive scalability and automation besides custom reporting. Automating routine and repetitive tasks helps save resources — time, money and materials.

Here are a few ways businesses can leverage automation:

  • Vendor onboarding
  • Prioritizing vendors/suppliers
  • Reviewing supplier performance
  • Reporting

3. Think Beyond Cybersecurity

In addition to cybersecurity risks, businesses are exposed to other risks that need equal consideration. They should monitor service level agreements (SLAs), vendor performance, supplier creditworthiness, compliance, logistics, financial, weather and geopolitical risks.

Also read: Decoding The Best Practices In Third-Party Risk Management

Typical TPRM Challenges

Managing third-party risk is essential for an enterprise, but the absence of uniform reporting and ongoing tracking poses risks that could expose an organization to threats. Given below are some of the typical TPRM challenges faced by companies:

1. Exhaustive List of Third Parties and Communication Issues

Most organizations find collating their extensive list of registered third parties difficult. Further, the vendor database may be incomplete, lacking crucial information, thus exposing the business to increased risks. Furthermore, communicating and maintaining close relationships with multiple third parties at the same time can be incredibly challenging.

2. Lack of Workflow Automation and Resources

Many businesses follow inefficient paper-based TPRM processes instead of adopting automation – because they find it daunting. Lack of resources could also be a reason for the lack of automation.

3. Lack of Visibility and Engagement

Lack of visibility and third-party engagement are the most significant reasons that impede growth. It prevents the business from mapping out all its risks across the supply chain and does not allow for third-party collaboration, thus adding to unforeseen risks.

Also read: How BFSI Companies in Europe Can Supercharge Third-Party Risk Management

Key Benefits of a Robust Third-Party Risk Management Software System

A TPRM system’s major benefits are detailed below:

1. Better Data Visibility and Reporting Capabilities

An effective technology-based TPRM program provides end-to-end visibility and accurate AI-driven data insights for better decision-making, planning and reporting. It also provides a user-friendly dashboard for customizing reporting to pinpoint domains needing improvement and remaining compliant.

2. Faster Vendor Onboarding

The onboarding process is highly complex and vital for a business and may take several weeks to complete. Automating this process can make it efficient, uniform and secure. In effect, when onboarding is quicker and more transparent, supplier relationships tend to grow stronger.

3. Increased Time and Cost Savings

A third-party risk management solution increases efficiency, saving time and costs by monitoring vendor performance on a real-time basis. Although a TPRM solution requires an initial investment, it saves money and time for the business in the long term.

Why Businesses Need TPRM Frameworks

Establishing a TPRM program is challenging as it may require managing hundreds of vendors across several countries while considering third-party risks and performance issues. However, several widely used frameworks, such as those by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the International Standards Organization (ISO), provide an excellent place to start.

Third-Party Risk Management Software

Today’s businesses can thrive only in an interconnected ecosystem, and it’s normal to rely on external partners, suppliers, and vendors to drive growth and efficiency. But this same interconnectedness also exposes businesses to potential risks. Therefore, safeguarding operations and protecting reputation effectively requires supply chain and procurement functions to prioritize the use of third-party risk management software.

Understanding Third-Party Risk

In the modern business landscape, third-party risk refers to the vulnerabilities and potential harm that can arise from the activities, relationships, or systems of external partners. These risks can manifest in various forms, such as financial loss, compliance breaches, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. As a supply chain and procurement expert, it is crucial to identify, assess, and mitigate these risks proactively.

The Need for Third-Party Risk Management Software

Traditional third-party risk management methods such as manual assessments and spreadsheets can no longer match up to the complexities and scale of today's supply chains. Third-party risk management software solutions are advanced and offer a comprehensive and centralized approach to managing risks. But for that, enterprises first need to streamline their processes, enhance visibility, and make informed decisions.

Enhanced Risk Assessment and Due Diligence

TPRM software leverages next-generation technologies — such as advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence — so that enterprises can carry out comprehensive risk assessments and due diligence on potential and existing partners. These platforms can provide insights into partners' financial stability, compliance history, operational resilience, as well as cybersecurity practices they might have deployed. Automating these processes can help supply chain and procurement organizations swiftly collect and analyze data and make precise and comprehensive risk assessments.

Streamlined Compliance and Regulatory Monitoring

Compliance with regulations is critical to the functioning of any business, especially when it involves third parties or external suppliers and partners. And TPRM software simplifies compliance monitoring by feeding real-time updates on regulatory changes and automatically assessing external partners' adherence to these regulatory requirements. This helps businesses to identify potential compliance gaps, minimize legal and regulatory risks — thereby ensuring a robust and ethical supply chain ecosystem.

Monitoring and Early Warning Systems

Another important aspect of third-party risk management software is the ability to provide continuous monitoring and early warning systems, which can enable real-time monitoring of key risk indicators such as financial health, adverse news, legal issues, and data breaches. Timely alerts and notifications from TPRM software enable enterprises to respond swiftly to emerging risks, implement risk mitigation strategies, and ensure smooth running of operations.

Collaborative Risk Management

With a centralized platform, TPRM software facilitates collaboration between internal stakeholders and external partners, enabling supply chain and procurement functions to share risk assessments, mitigation plans, and compliance documentation with relevant partners. The resulting increase in collaboration can enhance transparency throughout the supply chain.

In conclusion, as supply chains continue to grow in complexity and global reach, embracing third-party risk management solutions can help supply chain and procurement organizations to safeguard their enterprise against a wide range of risks and ensure operational resilience and keep intact the bottom line. The effectiveness of TPRM software lies in its ability to automate and streamline risk assessment, due diligence, compliance monitoring, and provide early warning to enterprises and enable them to make informed and proactive decisions.

Banking Third-Party Risk Management

The banking industry relies on third-party relationships to deliver a wide range of services and expertise. But increased reliance on external vendors and partners can also lead to significant risks such as banking data breaches, regulatory non-compliance, and reputational damage for banks. The challenges faced by banks are significant and banking TPRM can help the industry build resilient and trustworthy relationships with vendors.

Challenges of Third-Party Risk in Banking

Banks operate within a complex regulatory environment, which comes from handling vast amounts of sensitive customer information. And these information pieces are attractive targets for cybercriminals. The risks demand strict compliance with stringent security and data protection standards, and these factors make the banking industry particularly vulnerable to third-party risks.

Third-party risk management software assists banks in monitoring and assessing their vendors' adherence to regulatory requirements. With these tools providing real-time updates on regulatory changes, automating compliance checks, and streamlining the documentation process, enterprises can ensure that vendors comply with applicable laws and regulations. Compliance helps banks to minimize legal risks and maintain a strong adherence throughout the system.

External partners in the banking industry include IT service providers, payment processors, marketing agencies and cloud service providers. With these relationships presenting potential vulnerabilities that can compromise data security, implementing a robust risk management framework can help banks identify, assess, and mitigate risks. A proactive approach not only reduces the chances of adverse incidents but also enables banks to respond swiftly in case of a risk.

Enhancing Cybersecurity and Data Protection

Effective banking TPRM provides a comprehensive framework to conduct ongoing risk assessments. And with cyber threats becoming increasingly sophisticated, banks must prioritize cybersecurity and data protection within their third-party relationships. Third-party risk management software enables banks to evaluate vendors' security controls, assess vulnerability management processes, and ensure that vendors handle their data in line with industry standards.

That said, third-party risk management in banking is not a one-time effort but requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Third-party risk management software provides banks with real-time monitoring capabilities, allowing them to identify and address emerging risks promptly. Continual monitoring helps banks maintain visibility into their extended enterprise, assess vendor performance, and take necessary actions to mitigate risks as they evolve and change to avoid and bypass detection.

Building Trust and Resilience

Banks can build trust with their stakeholders and strengthen their resilience with the help of a robust third-party risk management practice. Proactive risk management enhances transparency, instills confidence in customers and regulators, and helps banks differentiate themselves from the competition. An effective TPRM framework can build a culture of risk awareness, ensure the security, reliability, and compliance of banking operations — to help banks establish strong partnerships with clients and stakeholders.

In conclusion, effectively employing specialized third-party risk management software can streamline risk assessment processes, monitor regulatory compliance, enhance cybersecurity, and ensure operational resilience. Banking TPRM plays a critical role in helping the sector to navigate the complexities and stay ahead of risks in the extended ecosystem.

Financial Third-Party Risk Management

The finance sector has organizations constantly relying on external partners to manage critical operations, including functions such as payment processing, auditing, and investment management. Although critical to functioning, the reliance on external partners carry inherent risks with far-reaching implications.

Therefore, robust third-party risk management is critical to the smooth functioning of the financial sector. From a supply chain and procurement perspective, the unique challenges faced by financial organizations and the significance of financial third-party risk management need to be studied in depth in order to safeguard the integrity of finance organizations.

Challenges in Financial Third-Party Risk

Financial organizations operate in a complex ecosystem, where partnerships with external entities are necessary for growth and operational efficiency. Nevertheless, this reliance on third parties can expose organizations to various risks, including fraud, data breaches, compliance violations, and financial losses. Financial institutions handle vast amounts of sensitive data, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. Furthermore, regulatory compliance is of utmost importance, as non-compliance can result in severe penalties, reputational damage, and legal consequences. It is vital for financial organizations to identify, assess, and mitigate these risks proactively.

Significance of Financial Third-Party Risk Management

Financial TPRM involves systematic processes that identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with external partners, helping financial institutions to ensure regulatory compliance, strengthen cybersecurity measures, and maintain trust with customers, investors, and regulators. With exponential rise in volume of financial transactions across businesses, utilizing specialized third-party risk management software enables financial organizations to automate due diligence processes, monitor vendor compliance, and conduct ongoing risk assessments. These AI-powered software platforms leverage advanced analytics and algorithms to evaluate vendors' financial stability, data protection practices, regulatory compliance, and internal controls.

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance keeps financial organizations on their toes at all times. That’s because compliance failures not only result in hefty fines but also erode customer trust and damage reputation in the long run. Financial third-party risk management facilitates the monitoring and assessment of vendors' adherence to regulatory requirements. Leveraging next-generation technology, these platforms provide real-time updates on changing regulations, automate compliance checks, and streamline the documentation process. This also ensures that vendors understand the regulatory obligations and stay ahead of legal risks.

Strengthening Cybersecurity and Data Protection

Financial organizations handle vast amounts of sensitive customer data, making them prime targets for cyberattacks. Financial third-party risk management software allows institutions to evaluate vendors' cybersecurity practices, including measures such as encryption protocols, access controls, and incident response plans. By conducting rigorous assessments and audits, financial institutions can minimize the risk of data breaches, protect customer information, and enhance overall cybersecurity measures. This proactive approach demonstrates a commitment to data protection and builds trust with customers.

Continuous Monitoring and Vendor Performance

Constant evaluation of vendor performance with the help of financial third-party management software solutions enable financial organizations to identify and address emerging risks well within time. This ensures that vendors put constant efforts, making it easier for financial organizations to make informed decisions regarding vendor relationships. Continuous monitoring also adds value to the overall risk management framework, bolstering resilience and enabling financial organizations to quickly adapt to changing scenarios.

In conclusion, financial third-party risk management is vital for safeguarding finances, maintaining regulatory compliance, and preserving trust in the financial industry. Implementing robust risk management practices through the deployment of specialized software can help financial organizations effectively identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with external partners or third parties. Proactive risk management plays a critical role in ensuring the sustainability and resilience of financial organizations.

Insurance Third-Party Risk Management

The insurance industry stands at a critical juncture, navigating through a rapidly evolving landscape shaped by technological advancements, shifting consumer preferences, and the persistent challenges posed by global economic uncertainties and natural disasters. While next-generation technologies continue to open up new avenues for insurers to streamline operations and enhance customer experiences, the sector is also exposed to heightened cybersecurity risks. Additionally, the industry grapples with addressing climate change-related issues, as catastrophic events continue to strain insurers' risk models and capital reserves. Striking a delicate balance between embracing innovation and safeguarding stability, the insurance sector strives to remain resilient and adaptable in the face of ongoing disruptions.

Ties with external parties are integral to providing comprehensive coverage and exceptional service to policyholders. However, these partnerships also introduce a range of risks that must be effectively managed. From a supply chain and procurement standpoint, insurance third-party risk management is critical to overcoming the unique challenges, all the while upholding the integrity of coverage and trust of policyholders.

Challenges in Insurance Third-Party Risk

Insurance companies operate in a dynamic and interconnected landscape. They have to constantly rely on a multitude of external parties such as claims administrators, underwriting agents, and technology service providers. These relationships expose insurers to risks — including data breaches, regulatory non-compliance, financial instability, and service interruptions. Additionally, the vast amounts of sensitive customer data that insurers handle make them vulnerable to cyber threats. It is therefore essential for insurance companies to proactively identify, assess, and mitigate these risks to protect policyholders' interests and maintain their reputation.

Significance of Insurance Third-Party Risk Management

The significance of insurance TPRM lies in the fact that it’s crucial for ensuring the reliability, quality, and security of services provided by external partners. By implementing a systematic approach to evaluating, monitoring, and mitigating risks with the help of specialized third-party risk management software, insurance companies can automate due diligence, assess vendor compliance, and conduct ongoing risk assessments. The advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms capabilities of TPRM platforms enable insurers to evaluate vendors' financial stability, operational resilience, regulatory compliance, and data protection practices.

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory compliance is a critical aspect of insurance third-party risk management. There’s a complex web of regulations and standards that insurance companies must comply with to protect policyholders' interests. Automating compliance checks and streamlining documentation processes enable insurers to minimize the risk of non-compliance and avoid regulatory penalties, as well as help them maintain a strong culture of compliance across the board.

Enhancing Cybersecurity and Data Protection

With heightened risk of cyber threats, insurance companies must prioritize cybersecurity and data protection in their third-party relationships. Insurance third-party risk management software makes it easier for insurers to assess vendors' security controls, and also evaluate their vulnerability management processes. TPRM solutions also enable insurance companies to conduct thorough assessments and regular audits to mitigate the risk of data breaches, so that financial information pertaining to the organization as well as clients can be protected.

In conclusion, insurance TPRM plays a critical role for organizations in safeguarding coverage, maintaining regulatory compliance, and maintaining policyholders’ trust. A comprehensive risk management framework and specialized software solution help insurers to proactively identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with external partners. With this approach, insurance providers can not only enhance cybersecurity measures and the overall integrity of coverage provided by insurance companies, but they can also build resilience and protect policyholders' interests — which in turn collectively help enterprises maintain a competitive edge in the insurance industry.

Health Third-Party Risk Management

The healthcare industry has undergone significant transformations since the global pandemic, including various other factors that shape its landscape. Factors such as aging population and an increased prevalence of chronic diseases — which essentially are demographic shifts — continue to drive a greater demand for healthcare services. Rising healthcare costs and the pursuit of cost-effective solutions have prompted innovative approaches to care delivery and payment models. With growing focus on digital health solutions, telemedicine, and artificial intelligence, technology continues to play an increasing role in healthcare advancements that aim to improve patient outcomes, enhance operational efficiencies, and empower individuals to take more proactive roles in managing their health.

Amidst the aforementioned changes, healthcare systems globally continue to grapple with issues of healthcare access, equity, and the need for effective health policy to address pressing public health challenges. But as the industry navigates through these multifaceted dynamics, the mix of stakeholders has continued to grow diverse. And with that, third-party risks.

Third-party relationships play a crucial role in delivering high-quality patient care and supporting operational efficiency. But the unique risks that come from the association with third parties knotted in the supply chain and procurement processes need to be effectively managed with the help of healthcare third-party risk management in order to protect patient safety, maintain regulatory compliance and ensuring and quality care delivery.

Challenges in Healthcare Third-Party Risk Management

Healthcare organizations have been traditionally relying on a vast network of external vendors — ranging from medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical suppliers to billing and coding services — which would only continue to grow further with advancements in medical science and digital health technologies.

Although the healthcare sector is highly regulated — with strict standards for patient data privacy, medical device safety, and pharmaceutical quality — the complexities make healthcare organizations vulnerable to third-party risks. A robust healthcare TPRM can ensure that organizations in the sector are shielded from these third-party risks, which would otherwise lead to financial losses, legal consequences, reputational damage, and most importantly, harm to patients.

Mitigating Risks with Healthcare Third-Party Risk Management

Healthcare third-party risk management involves a systematic process in which specialized third-party risk management software provides healthcare organizations with the tools to automate due diligence, monitor vendor compliance, and conduct ongoing risk assessments. These platforms assess vendor qualifications, financial stability, data protection practices, regulatory compliance, and quality management systems. These software solutions can aid healthcare organizations to proactively address potential risks, minimize the impact on patient safety, and ensure the delivery of high-quality care to patients.

Enhancing Patient Data Security

Patients are at the core of the healthcare system and the data their medical records generate is enormous. And this data is sensitive in nature, making them prime targets for data breaches and cyberattacks. Healthcare third-party risk management software enables organizations to assess vendors' data security measures, evaluate their information security frameworks, and ensure compliance with privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA. Rigorous assessments and audits as part of TPRM enable healthcare organizations to mitigate the risk of data breaches and strengthen overall data security measures.

In conclusion, healthcare third-party risk management is critical for ensuring patient safety, maintaining regulatory compliance, and protecting the reputation and integrity of healthcare organizations. Implementing a comprehensive risk management framework, including leveraging specialized software, can help healthcare providers proactively identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with their external partners.


Although businesses cannot eliminate risks, they can create and implement a risk management strategy to reduce the adverse impact on operational efficiency. This could include prioritizing risks, planning for their minimization, and active participation from critical stakeholders.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Financial
  • Operational
  • Government
  • Environmental
  • Compliance
  • Competition/Industry

A vendor management program is a planned program for managing suppliers and enhancing their influence on the buyer's business. It involves monitoring vendor deliveries, cooperating to create new practices, managing compliance, and paying invoices.

  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Probability and Impact Matrix
  • Risk Data Quality Assessment
  • Variance and Trend Analysis

The role of TPRM is to evaluate, analyze, and manage unplanned events resulting from a company's interactions with third parties, such as suppliers or vendors.