Security questionnaires can be frustrating and daunting. With no true standards or guidelines in place for companies to follow, most are left to create their own vendor onboarding and assessment procedures. The result is different questionnaires, from different companies, with little consistency between them all. Not only is this frustrating for organizations trying to manage their vendors and align risk tolerances, but it is also chaotic for vendors on the receiving end of an array of questionnaires from each company they work with.

Improving security questionnaires eases the burden of first- and third- party security teams alike. Below are 6 ways to improve questionnaire implementation and establish consistency among vendors to aid your vendor risk management processes.

Improve Your Security Questionnaire

1. Organize by control categories– Questionnaires categories should be built around control frameworks, industry standards and regulations, and common areas of cybersecurity evaluation.

2. Integrate standardized responses– Multiple choice responses create easy to score questions that highlight problem areas and can streamline remediation efforts. Standardized responses also prevent lengthy, free text answers that are time consuming to read and make it difficult to accurately compare vendors.

3. Create flexible options- While it is important to create consistency with standardized responses, it is also necessary to acknowledge implemented security practices don’t always fit within a range of multiple-choice options. Sometimes, more explanation or support may be needed. Flexibility for those situations is necessary to elaborate upon standardized response options. This can be achieved with options for noting remediation plans, acknowledging risk, and uploading evidence for review, as appropriate.

4. Assign to multiple respondents– To ensure the highest level of accuracy on a questionnaire, it must be answered and reviewed by subject matter experts. Assigning multiple respondents to attest to questionnaire responses ensures responses are accurate and prevents the questionnaire from needing to be redone, while also increasing awareness of areas in need of improvement.

5. Track improvements– Questionnaires can be a useful tool for showing leadership areas in need of improvement, progress, and ROI. A questionnaire can serve as baseline for current state of security posture. As remediations are made, improvements can be documented and tracked for comparison.

6. Ditch the spread sheet– Spreadsheets can quickly grow disorganized and out of control as your vendor network changes or expands. Utilizing a risk management tool or streamlined dashboard eliminates the need for your security team to hunt for answers in a spreadsheet. These tools also make it easier to update the questionnaire with remediations and facilitate progress tracking. Already have an existing spreadsheet? A questionnaire dashboard within an effective risk management tool will cover core frameworks and key areas of cybersecurity, matching or surpassing the effectiveness of any previously used spreadsheet.

Benefits of Improved Security Questionnaires

What are the benefits of improved security questionnaires? For starters, consistency across questionnaires for all vendors makes it easier to identify vendors who align with the primary organization’s risk tolerance and those who do not. This insight helps organization’s make better decisions to protect their data and assets from third-party compromise when onboarding new vendors and managing existing vendors. Consistent, standardized questionnaires are also easy to scale to fit your third-party network as it grows. The benefits also extend to vendors. With increased standardization of questionnaires, vendors will no longer have to fill out a variety of different questionnaires. Instead, one questionnaire can be shared with any organization requesting one, with responses updated and shared as remediations are made.

myCYPR provides a standardized first-and third-party risk management solution with an interactive dashboard built to improve the questionnaire response process for organizations and their vendors. Request a demo today to learn more.