Most businesses today operate in an interconnected ecosystem of suppliers and partners i.e. Third Parties. Most technology businesses have built tech on tech introducing multiple layers of risk or opportunity. Other businesses such as manufacturing are reliant on suppliers for raw materials. Not forgetting many businesses have outsourced functions and activities.

As such, these relationships introduce significant risks. Third-party risk management (TPRM) is the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with outsourcing to vendors, suppliers, and other external partners. By implementing robust TPRM practices, organisations can protect themselves from potential threats and leverage opportunities for enhanced performance, security and reputation.


What are some Typical Risks of Third Parties

  1. Cybersecurity Risks:

Cybersecurity risks are perhaps the most prominent concern in third-party relationships. Vendors often have access to sensitive data and systems, making them prime targets for cyber-attacks. Data breaches, ransomware attacks, and malware infiltrations can occur if third parties do not maintain robust security measures.

  1. Reputational Risks:

The actions of third parties can significantly impact an organisation’s reputation. Associations with vendors involved in unethical practices, scandals, or legal issues can lead to negative publicity and loss of customer trust. Maintaining a good reputation requires rigorous oversight and ethical vetting of third-party partners continuously.

  1. Compliance Risks:

Third parties must comply with various regulations and standards relevant to their industry. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in legal penalties and damage to the organisation’s reputation. Regulatory violations can occur if vendors do not follow data protection laws like GDPR or industry-specific standards, placing the hiring company at risk.

  1. Operational Risks:

Operational disruptions can arise if third parties face technical failures, financial instability, or other issues that affect their ability to deliver services. Dependence on a single supplier or service provider increases the vulnerability to operational breakdowns.

  1. Financial Risks:

Financial risks include unexpected costs, fraud, and corruption. Third-party vendors may engage in fraudulent activities or face financial difficulties, leading to potential losses for the hiring company. Managing these risks involves thorough financial assessments and ongoing monitoring of vendors’ financial health.

With the advent of technology, Third Party Risk Management is now much easier to implement and manage. Most robust GRC solutions will come with out of the box templates, forms and workflows that you can easily tailor or configure to match your organisation’s requirements. One key area not to be overlooked is make it easy for your 3rd party partner to complete the due diligence and submit any documents or controls you require. Building a good relationship with your 3rd parties is key to your mutual success.


Opportunities from Effective Third-Party Risk Management

  1. Enhanced Security and Compliance:

Proactive TPRM practices help identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Organisations can safeguard sensitive data and avoid legal penalties by mitigating cybersecurity and compliance risks.

  1. Operational Efficiency and Resilience:

Gain efficiency by streamlining your 3rd Party Risk Management processes. Faster, more effective vendor or partner onboarding means you can be serving your customers more efficiently. It also enhances business continuity by ensuring that third-party disruptions do not adversely affect the organisation’s operations. Continuous monitoring and risk assessments contribute to a resilient organisation.

  1. Collaborative Relationships:

Strong TPRM fosters trust and collaboration with vendors, leading to better performance and innovation. Transparent risk management practices encourage vendors to adhere to high standards of security and compliance, resulting in more reliable and productive partnerships.

  1. Financial Benefits:

Identifying and mitigating risks early can prevent costly data breaches and regulatory fines, leading to significant cost savings. Ensuring partners understand and adhere to your ESG commitments can save you from embarrassing headlines and costly reputation damage.

  1. Competitive Advantage:

Organisations that effectively manage third-party risks can differentiate themselves in the market. A strong reputation for ESG, security and compliance attracts clients and customers, providing a competitive edge. Data-driven insights from TPRM enable strategic decision-making, supporting growth and innovation. Drive innovation by communicating and collaborating with your partners – the further down the chain they are, the more visibility they have. Leverage their insights.


Third-party relationships are here to stay and likely to grow. By understanding and addressing the typical risks associated with third parties, organisations can leverage the opportunities presented by effective TPRM to enhance security, improve operational efficiency, foster strong vendor relationships, achieve financial benefits, and gain a competitive advantage. Embracing comprehensive TPRM practices ensures that third-party relationships contribute positively to the organisation’s success and resilience.

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Tina Chugani is the Managing Director of Proxis, which provides clients advise on GRC selection, procurement and implementation. She is also a Non-Executive Director of the Global Girl Project Charity. With over 20 years across sectors such as aviation, financial services, healthcare, Tina is an experienced management consultant that wants to help organisations and employees thrive in meaningful work (and not drown in email and spreadsheets!)

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