Building Trust Through Vendor Risk Management

April 24, 2024 | Cybersecurity Consulting

By: Brett Davis

In today’s business landscape, relationships are paramount. But while the focus often lies on customer relationships, relationships with vendors are equally crucial. Establishing trust with vendors facilitates smooth operations and strengthens the entire business ecosystem. Let’s delve into why building trust with vendors is so important and how an effective vendor risk management strategy can transform your business. 

Cultivating Relationships Beyond Contracts

At the core of a successful vendor risk management strategy is building a genuine relationship with your vendors. These relationships should be about more than just a business contract—they should foster open communication and transparency. When you have a genuine relationship with a vendor, you can rely on them to keep you up-to-date on any potential risks or incidents, ensuring prompt communication and proactive resolution. This not only mitigates risk, but also fosters a culture of accountability and mutual support. 

Furthermore, by investing in meaningful relationships, you can influence your vendors to prioritize security and compliance. This might include encouraging your vendors to establish trust pages, write blogs, or build platforms that underscore their commitment to openness and accountability when it comes to their security posture. As organizations demonstrate their dedication to building trust, vendors are more likely to reciprocate.

Consistent Communication

Trust, like any relationship, requires consistent nurturing. At minimum, organizations should engage in open communication annually with vendors (often in line with SOC 2 and ISO 27001 timelines) to discuss any new risks, changes, or annual compliance audits. By establishing annual communications and touchbases throughout the year as necessary, you can show your vendors that you genuinely care about their policies and compliance posture. 

New risks emerge constantly. Recently, AI and its associated risks have made headlines, which is why staying aware of how your vendors handle new risks as they emerge is critical. Regular follow-ups enable organizations to navigate evolving risks effectively while fostering an environment of transparency.

Mitigate Risk with Transparency

One of the most significant advantages of a strong vendor risk management strategy is the ability to identify and mitigate potential weaknesses within the vendor ecosystem. By understanding vendors’ shortcomings, organizations can proactively assess and manage risks more effectively. Take, for instance, incidents like the LastPass data breach or Cloudflare outages. With a strong vendor relationship in place, organizations can swiftly assess the impact on their vendors and take appropriate measures to safeguard their operations.

Transparency plays a pivotal role in this process. Openly addressing issues and providing timely updates not only instills confidence but also encourages meaningful dialogue. By being forthcoming about challenges, organizations create opportunities for constructive engagement, ultimately strengthening trust and resilience.

It all comes down to trust. Building and nurturing trust within your vendor ecosystem not only fuels growth and innovation—it’s a fundamental aspect of today’s sustainable business practices. By cultivating genuine relationships, building consistent communication, and working together to mitigate risk, organizations lay the foundation for enduring partnerships built on transparency. 

Interested in learning more about how to build an effective vendor risk management strategy? Contact us today. 

About the Author

Brett Davis

As a senior cybersecurity consultant at BARR, Brett Davis evaluates the design and effectiveness of clients’ technology controls to prevent breaches and incidents and identify opportunities to operate more efficiently. Brett is recognized as a diligent, disciplined individual that goes above and beyond for his team and his clients.

Prior to BARR, Brett served in the United States Navy for six years, where he was a member of the elite Navy Special Warfare community that conducted special operations. After his service, Brett went on to mentor veteran students — providing support and positive influence to help them achieve academic, career and life goals. Brett holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Let's Talk