Did you know that a data breach caused by a third-party vendor can cost a company millions of dollars? In today's interconnected business world, vendor risk is a growing concern. Fortunately, there's a powerful solution – Vendor Risk Management (VRM). VRM helps organizations identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with their vendor relationships, ensuring a more secure and resilient business environment.

Before diving into the intricacies of automation, it is essential to establish a basic understanding of vendor risk management. At its core, VRM encompasses the processes, policies, and procedures implemented by organizations to identify, evaluate, mitigate, and monitor risks associated with their vendor relationships. These risks can manifest in a variety of forms, including cybersecurity vulnerabilities, regulatory non-compliance, financial instability, and operational disruptions.


The Evolving Landscape of Vendor Relationships

In recent years, the landscape of vendor relationships has changed significantly due to factors such as globalization, digitalization, and outsourcing trends. Organizations now engage with a diverse range of vendors spanning geographic boundaries and industry sectors, each of whom brings unique capabilities,
expertise, and risks. As the complexity and interconnectedness of the vendor ecosystem continue to grow, so do the challenges of effectively managing vendor-related risks.



Essentials of Automation in VRM

Traditional approaches to VRM often rely on manual processes and disparate systems, resulting in inefficiencies, inconsistencies, and limited scalability. Furthermore, the sheer volume and velocity of data generated by vendor interactions make it more challenging for organizations to
analyze and respond to risks in a timely manner. In this context, automation emerges as a game-changer, promising increased efficiency, accuracy, and agility in VRM operations.

 Fortunately, automation can significantly improve this process. Automated workflows can gather compliance reports from vendors, analyze them against pre-defined security protocols, and flag any discrepancies for further investigation. This frees up valuable time for security teams to focus on high-risk vendors and proactive threat mitigation strategies.


Automating Vendor Risk Management: A Step-by-Step Guide

Embarking on the journey of automating Vendor Risk Management (VRM) requires a strategic and systematic approach. This roadmap outlines key steps and considerations for organizations looking to
leverage automation to strengthen their VRM practices. Before diving into automation, a thorough evaluation of your existing VRM processes, capabilities, and technology infrastructure is crucial. This involves:


  • Mapping Current Workflows: Identify each step in your VRM process, from vendor onboarding to risk assessment and mitigation.
  • Pinpointing Inefficiencies: Analyze your workflows to identify areas of difficulty and inefficiency that automation can address.
  • Gauging Preparedness: Assess your organization's readiness for implementing automation. This includes considering the availability of skilled personnel, data quality and accessibility, and alignment with regulatory requirements and industry standards.

By gaining a deep understanding of your current state, you can tailor your automation strategy to address specific challenges and ensure a smooth implementation process.



Choosing the Right Automation Tool

Central to the success of any automation initiative is the
selection of appropriate tools and technologies that fit the organization's objectives and needs. Identifying solutions that provide the desired functionality, scalability, integration capabilities, and ease of use requires thorough research, market analysis, and vendor evaluation. Key considerations include compatibility with existing systems, vendor reputation and track record, and total cost of ownership.


Popular Automation Tools for VRM

The VRM automation landscape is diverse, with various tools offering a range of functionalities. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • SecurityScorecard: This platform provides automated vendor risk assessments, continuous monitoring of vendor security posture, and risk scoring based on industry benchmarks.
  • OneTrust Vendorpedia: This solution offers automated workflows for vendor onboarding, risk questionnaires, and risk analysis with pre-built controls and industry-standard assessments.
  • LogicGate Risk Cloud: This platform uses automation for tasks like vendor due diligence, risk surveys, and control assessments. It also provides features for customizable workflows, data visualization dashboards, and AI-powered risk analysis.
  • UpGuard: This tool focuses on streamlining vendor questionnaires. It utilizes AI-powered auto-fill suggestions based on historical data, significantly reducing vendor response time and simplifying the assessment process.


Functionalities of VRM Automation Tools

These tools offer a variety of functionalities to streamline VRM processes, including:

  • Automated Workflows: Automating repetitive tasks like sending questionnaires, collecting data, and generating reports.
  • Risk Scoring and Prioritization: Utilizing algorithms to assign risk scores to vendors and prioritize those requiring further investigation.
  • Vendor Onboarding Automation: Streamlining the onboarding process with automated document collection, verification, and risk assessments.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Continuously monitoring vendor security posture for vulnerabilities and breaches.
  • Remediation Management: Tracking and managing the resolution of identified vendor risks.


Implementing Automated VRM Workflows

Once the automation tool is selected, the focus shifts
to designing and implementing automated workflows that streamline VRM processes. This crucial step involves:


  • Mapping End-to-End Workflows: Identify and map each step in your VRM process, from vendor onboarding to risk assessment and mitigation.
  • Defining Triggers and Actions: Determine the events (triggers) that initiate specific automated actions within the workflow.
  • Configuring the Automation Platform: Set up the automation tool to seamlessly orchestrate tasks and activities according to your defined workflows.


Testing and Refinement

As with any complex system implementation, thorough testing and validation are critical. This includes conducting comprehensive testing scenarios (edge cases, error handling, integration testing) to identify and fix any problems. Additionally, continuous monitoring and performance measurement track key metrics and identify areas for improvement. This allows for ongoing iteration and optimization of the automated solutions.


Best Practices for Implementing Automation in VRM

Automation has become indispensable in modern vendor risk management (VRM) practices, allowing organisations to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and effectively mitigate risks. By following best practices in implementing automation, organizations can maximize the benefits and advantages of VRM automation. Below are key best practices to consider:


1. Comprehensive Process Mapping

Start by thoroughly evaluating existing VRM processes. Map out each step, from vendor onboarding to risk assessment and mitigation. Identify areas of concern, obstacles, and opportunities for enhancement. This comprehensive understanding will inform the automation strategy and ensure alignment with organizational goals.


2. Clear Objectives and Metrics

Define clear objectives for automation implementation, such as reducing manual effort, improving risk visibility, and increasing compliance. Establish measurable metrics to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of automation initiatives. This clarity will guide decision-making and ensure accountability during the implementation process.


3. Stakeholder Engagement and Alignment

Involve key stakeholders from all departments, including risk management, procurement, IT, and compliance, in automation initiatives. Promote open communication and collaboration to ensure alignment with business objectives and regulatory requirements. Address concerns and solicit feedback to garner support and buy-in for automation efforts.


4. Data Quality and Integration

Ensure accuracy, completeness, and integrity of data used in VRM processes. Establish data governance protocols and implement data quality checks to maintain data integrity throughout the automation lifecycle. Integrate disparate data sources and systems to enable seamless data flow and analysis, enhancing risk visibility and decision-making.



Future of Automated VRM

Looking to the future, driven by ongoing advancements in technology, regulatory developments, and industry trends, the future of automated VRM holds tremendous potential. Some of the key trends and innovations shaping the future of VRM automation include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and ML algorithms enable predictive analytics, anomaly detection, and pattern recognition, empowering organizations to anticipate vendor-related risks and proactively mitigate them.
  • Blockchain Technology: Blockchain provides immutable, transparent, and tamper-resistant record-keeping capabilities, increasing the integrity, security, and transparency of vendor transactions and relationships.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): RPA technologies automate rule-based, repetitive tasks, such as data entry, validation, and reconciliation, further increasing efficiency and reducing human error in VRM processes.
  • Integration with Supply Chain Management (SCM) Systems: Integration between VRM and SCM systems enables end-to-end visibility and traceability across the entire vendor lifecycle, from onboarding and procurement to performance monitoring and contract management.





VRM automation empowers organizations to streamline processes, strengthen operations, and mitigate risks. By following a systematic approach and
leveraging automation technologies, businesses can unlock new levels of efficiency and competitiveness.
inMorphis provides resources to help navigate VRM complexities and explore automation possibilities.

Continuous improvement and data quality are essential for maximizing VRM automation benefits. By embracing automation and staying informed, organizations can create a robust and efficient VRM program, fostering stronger vendor relationships.