The Evolution of the Global Third-Party Infrastructure

Posted on: June 23, 2023
Author: Alex Toews

architectural details of welsh assembly building, cardiff bay, uThe idea behind having an effective third-party risk management (TPRM) program is not a newfound concept. More than 14 years ago, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) introduced the first true risk-based approach to understanding and managing third parties. The guidance clearly communicated program pillars that still remain relevant today. But since that time, most global organizations have been focused on covering ground in other areas of risk – typically as a reaction to the last major systemic disruption that took place.

The cycle begins with a catastrophic risk event, then the tendrils of impact ripple and cascade through the global economy, and, eventually, sovereign governments and global collaborators try their best to pass down structured regulations and mandates to try and prevent the past from repeating itself. The world’s most systemically impactful organizations are the first required bodies to respond, while organizations of descending criticality all begin to adopt similar programs to try and protect their businesses and their customers and, simultaneously, do their part in mitigating preventable economic uncertainty. Rinse and repeat.

Considering this cycle, the COVID-19 crisis and the evolving reliance on intricate shared service models have now turned the spotlight to third-party risk. The pandemic put immense stress on a global network of partners across all industries and revealed just how reliant single organizations are on an entire chain of product/service provisioners which remain operationally out of their control. There has always existed a perspective of managing third-party risk to “protect your brand”, “defend your reputation”, and “treat vendors as an extension of your company logo”; but what the latest systemic disruption has showed us is that you need to manage more than just the impact that a third party can have on your brand perception.

Your brand and reputation fail to matter if you no longer exist. You need to understand, deeply, how critical your third parties are to keeping you in business. The simple truth is that your customers expect to be provided the products or services that you deliver, no matter what. And your third parties now, more than ever, play a direct role in dictating whether you can keep that customer promise.

A Digital Method to Integrated Third-Party Risk Management

Fusion Risk Management planted its roots with an obsession in understanding how your business works. Our platform appropriately fit within the business continuity (BC) domain, with the core foundation that what enables a successful BC program is an end-to-end view of your operational assets and the relationships between them. Fusion mastered and delivered that understanding, made it easy and intuitive to digitize, and then quickly achieved and maintained our stance as a market leader.

Our most recent product release focused on changing the way in which organizations approach and build a TPRM program by incorporating a focus on operational resilience. At its core, our TPRM solution adopted and enabled a third-party risk lens that is propelled by our most prevalent core competency: understanding how your business operates.

A truly integrated TPRM approach needs to be able to connect your most critical third parties to your business and manage those third parties as if they were the core operational assets that you own and control. An integrated approach elevates the practitioners that have become experts at managing risks outside the window and allows them to apply the same proficient skillset within their four walls. But integration doesn’t just mean finding connections between siloed risk programs; rather, it means informing, communicating, and enabling intelligent and proactive communication through those connections.

Fusion’s Approach to Third-Party Management and Resilience

The term “operational resilience” can vary depending on the individual, team, program, or organization that defines it. Regardless of your definition, Fusion’s approach to third-party risk management is designed to create resilient outcomes. This means that we built our solution with the absolute intent to help your program understand when exactly your third parties may be exposing your organization to significant or catastrophic operational disruption. As we ideated product approaches, we constantly asked ourselves:

How does our TPRM solution help organizations to…

  • Connect to and inform the state of their critical products and services?
  • Proactively engage dependent business operations?
  • Leverage real-time data rather than static surveys?
  • Promote risk agility and motivate collaboration?
  • Maintain the promise that they’ve made to their customers?
  • Continue to deliver their products and services, no matter what?

These questions, when asked in relation to the traditional stages of the third-party risk management lifecycle, highlight the need for a new approach to TPRM that (1) maintains the necessary elements of the end-to-end lifecycle, (2) elevates and transforms capabilities to support the ongoing monitoring of third parties, and (3) introduces concepts that are tied to resilience and operational impact.

So, How Does Fusion Deliver its TPRM Solution?

Fusion’s product and technical teams have been hyper focused on enhancing, elevating, and changing the way in which risk programs approach the traditional TPRM lifecycle. The intent was not to release a product that did more of the same with some shiny new capabilities and features; rather, the intent was to build a digital solution that would spark new conversations with our customers. We wanted to build and deliver a TPRM product that provided the core blocking and tackling but also disrupted the compliance-based approach that many solutions continue to offer. We’ve been able to do this by focusing on two specific areas:

  1. Continuous Monitoring

While legacy approaches to continuous monitoring rely heavily on static, point-in-time assessments, surveys, and questionnaires, the Fusion approach prioritizes real-time data and alerts to navigate potential disruption before it occurs. Our solution leverages best-in-class data brokers to surface near real-time data connected to the most critical risk domains (e.g., cyber, information security, financial health, business health, etc.). More importantly, Fusion’s single platform lens automates the sharing of intelligence and promotes agility by connecting this data to downstream business operations and allowing risk alerts to be shared with every critical operational stakeholder.

  1. Operational and Business Impacts

By promoting our ability to understand, map, and connect the operational assets that allow your organization to operate, our solution allows your entire business to become an integral part of managing risk and disruption with your third parties. We don’t just help you onboard third parties – we connect them to your operational ecosystem so that you can treat them as you would any other critical operational asset. In Fusion, you can understand the potential impact that a single critical third party may have on your products/services and avoid business disruption without relying on static surveys.

Want to learn more about how Fusion helps organizations strengthen their TPRM programs? Contact your Fusion Account Manager or request a demo today!