Organizations with a robust and sophisticated approach to managing their risk management decisions are always at the top of their game. It’s no secret that an effective continuous monitoring strategy is one of the strongest tools a company has to protect against threats.
Read on to learn all about continuous monitoring and how it supports your vendor risk management framework. We'll also explore what you need to know to use this framework in your supply chain.
What Is Continuous Monitoring?
Continuous monitoring uses automation to help provide up-to-date security monitoring and support your supply chain risk management. This helps your team get the right data to identify potential threats as they happen and start remediation right away.
For software providers, continuous control monitoring (CCM) forms part of the DevOps lifecycle to make sure the finished product has iron-clad cybersecurity standards, including protections like two-factor authentication and firewalls.
The "continuous" part of the term means the process happens in real time. A continuous monitoring solution gives you near-instantaneous data about your chosen KPIs without your team's manual input. The system automatically tracks the data and relays it to you immediately, so you can act fast.
For example, if your company is a food service provider, your logistics vendor might use real-time temperature readings to make sure the perishable goods you've ordered are transported and properly stored throughout the shipping process.
If you sell consumer goods, you might use continuous monitoring to keep an eye on inventory levels at multiple points in your distribution process. That way, you can avoid out-of-stock situations that dent customer satisfaction levels and, ultimately, sales revenue.
How Continuous Monitoring Works for Vendor Risk Management
In third-party risk management, continuous monitoring gives your team a heads up on changes that could lead to delays, disruption, or fraudulent activity in your supply chain. Functionally, that could mean avoiding operational damage from risk events like data security incidents, environmental damage, financial insolvency and much more, on an ongoing basis.
The SolarWinds hack in early 2020 is a prime example of why your organization should prioritize continuous monitoring of your IT infrastructure, along with other business areas. Given that it took months for anyone to notice that hackers were secretly leeching information from multiple U.S. government agencies, it's pretty obvious that security controls weren't working as they should have been at the time.
In an effective third-party risk management program, continuous monitoring is essential to guarding against vulnerabilities in your supply chain. Using a third-party risk management software platform can help your team leverage the power of data for proactive problem-solving at all stages of your vendor management process.
Having real-time visibility over your vendor lifecycle management processes will help your team spot a vendor’s compliance issues. That way, they can respond to those changes in their security posture with the right level of urgency.
5 Benefits of a Continuous Monitoring Strategy
We'll say it again: Don't underestimate the importance of an effective continuous monitoring strategy to keep your vendor and third-party relationships secure and compliant, especially in the face of today's rollercoaster markets.
Other than the crucial aspects of data validation (including for your cyber and compliabce security), there are several other operational benefits of continuous infrastructure monitoring in your vendor management processes. Here are a few:
- You reduce costs by streamlining team resources — and time — allocated for manually detecting and responding to potential security threats, letting you focus on more strategic activities instead.
- You gain a more holistic view of your supply chain, which will help you optimize different stages of your vendor management process.
- You reduce the risk of operational downtime from disruption because your team will have a faster incident response rate.
- It encourages a more collaborative approach, as you'll work more closely with your suppliers to drive continuous improvement.
- You minimize the risk of human error and unintentional negligence when evaluating your vendors' performance, which hopefully takes some of the pressure off your team.
Ultimately, your customers will have a better experience with your brand because you'll have more control over the end-to-end process of delivering your product or service to them.
Your key stakeholders will also have more confidence knowing you've got the right technology to ensure quality and consistent services at every stage of your operations.
What to Consider Before You Start a Continuous Monitoring Program
A well-planned continuous monitoring system will help you identify potential risks in your supply chain more easily than a piecemeal approach. However, it's important to understand that implementing a system like this involves more than a "set-and-forget" approach.
Before you get started, here are some important questions you should consider:
- Your KPIs: Have you selected a set of KPI metrics relevant to your business goals and ESG priorities? You need to do that in order to know what a threat looks like in your supply chain processes. This process will help your leadership team to develop a system of checks and balances for informed decision-making.
- Your IT ecosystem: Does your chosen vendor monitoring system have the right integrations with the overall IT infrastructure ecosystem supporting your business goals? Your decision to implement a continuous monitoring system shouldn't stand in isolation. With hundreds of enterprise software integrations, a platform like Certa will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
- Your regulatory compliance needs: Does your monitoring process take into account the regulations and industry standards that apply to your business? For example, checking vendors' HIPAA compliance for healthcare organizations, or a vendor's PCI DSS compliance where you need to handle credit card payments.
- Your vendor relationship management: Is it easy for you to communicate with your vendors on a day-to-day basis in a transparent environment? Developing strong relationships and clear communication channels with your vendors will help you understand the specific factors driving their performance.
- Your performance monitoring: Do you have the right infrastructure in place to collect and analyze your vendor data? Tracking performance issues over time will help you optimize your program and ensure you're meeting your business goals consistently. It also helps you identify areas for improvement along the way.
- Consider automation: While many companies try to do due diligence manually, automation engines like Certa can automatically flag high risk categories on an ongoing basis. This helps you catch more risk level changes and reduces human errors.
Regardless of what industry you're in, implementing a well-thought out continuous monitoring system can help you take a more proactive approach to managing third-party risks for your long-term growth.
And with the right partner by your side, you can be confident you're getting the most out of your solution — every step of the way.