Top Criteria You Should Consider When Assessing Vendors

March 22, 2021

In the world of vendor risk management, no two vendor partnerships are alike. For InfoSec teams, this means that no two vendor assessments are alike either. For each vendor, InfoSec teams review specific criteria to determine whether or not the vendor can securely manage the data requirements outlined in their internal compliance rules. To successfully scale vendor risk assessments and streamline the risk assessment process, InfoSec teams turn to assessment criteria to determine whether a potential vendor meets their security protocols.

 

Top Vendor Risk Assessment Criteria

There are a dozen published security questionnaires out there, each built with a clear goal and purpose in mind. Looking at these questionnaires more specifically, however, will uncover a list of top assessment criteria that appear on a majority of these questionnaires. If your team is building your own risk assessment or looking to determine the top criteria from which to grade your vendors, here is a list of some of the top assessment criteria to include:

1. Organizational guidelines

A foundational – yet often overlooked – assessment criteria is organizational guidelines and standards. This means assessing whether or not a vendor provides timely questionnaire responses, whether or not these assessments are fully completed, and grading a vendor on their responsiveness and transparency. 

2. Similar partnerships

Another key assessment criterion for vendors is looking at similar partnerships in your space. If a potential vendor doesn’t have any experience partnering with organizations in your field or industry or of your size, then you may have issues securely partnering and data sharing down the road.

3. Security requirements

The bulk of any vendor risk assessment is focused on security requirements, so these criteria might vary between vendors. Security-focused assessment criteria can include integrations and APIs, firewalls and safeguards, flexibility and scalability of the vendor platform, and long-term growth. 

4. Licensing fees and/or charges

Having a clear understanding of any potential fees and/or charges for things like licensing, purchases, and/or ongoing maintenance is key for early on in a vendor risk discussion. Make sure these requirements are out in the open early on to avoid any confusion down the road.

 

Streamlining Risk Assessments with Whistic

Depending on the vendor partnership you’re assessing, the assessment criteria you’re going to want to include in a questionnaire can vary greatly. This is why most organizations rely on multiple questionnaires and assessments to ensure each vendor is assessed on the right criteria. 

With the Whistic vendor risk management platform, your team can pick and choose which questionnaires to use for specific partners based on the criteria you’re looking to review. Then, with all of your completed vendor assessments in a single location, your team can compare assessments to determine a baseline for assessment criteria moving forward.

You can learn more about the Whistic platform and how it can help streamline risk assessments here

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Whistic
Whistic

The latest insights and updates on information security and third party risk management.