Here’s a question we hear a lot from prospective clients interested in updating or creating their third-party management programs: What is the most efficient way to impart the required changes to how we manage our third-party relationships?
As more and more companies rely on third parties to support critical elements of their core business operation, it is more important than ever to ensure they have the right people, processes and systems in place to mitigate risk and ensure successful delivery of the services and products their third parties are providing. Often times getting these foundational components of third-party management in place (people, processes and systems) requires change – and change can be hard to implement enterprise-wide.
While change is difficult, it is imperative to embrace it as an important element of a healthy organization. Here are a few simple yet practical tips to consider when embarking on change related to working with your vendors and third parties:
- You can’t change what you don’t assess. An important first step is to complete an independent assessment of your current business processes and systems. This will identify gaps and deficiencies which will help you establish a roadmap with milestones including a prioritized set of recommendations for new (updated) policies, process improvements and business systems. A critical part of the assessment process is to include a visioning step where you explore the future state environment you want to create.
- Engage stakeholders early in the process. We have found that early engagement and transparency are the best ways to approach making effective change and business process improvements inside an organization. Ensure you have considered all stakeholder groups that are involved with the oversight of your third parties so you can engage them throughout the processes, as needed.
- Create a communication plan to guide the change you are seeking. One of the most important elements of effective change management is to create a well thought out and comprehensive communication plan to support successful change. We help clients create these plans and, in many cases, will co-lead “town-hall” and “individual” stakeholder education events. This helps everyone involved to embrace their new responsibilities and prepare them to play an important role in the change management process.
- It helps to have an independent and unbiased expert assist you. It is really challenging to do a proper self-assessment of your current state. You should definitely consider the benefits of having a consultant from outside your organization help you assess, identify and carry out your change management activities.
While change is certainly difficult, it is an important and healthy activity to ensure you have everyone in your organization moving in the right direction. Further, you will ensure efficient and effective third-party oversight processes and supporting business systems are in place to support your organizations’ future growth for years to come.