4 considerations for maturing a life sciences TPRM program

Life sciences global survey: Third-party risk benchmark report

Life sciences companies that want to elevate their third-party risk management programs should consider these four points.

For life sciences companies, third-party risk management (TPRM) program maturity isn’t achieved by sheer longevity or by making a few simple adjustments. It’s an ongoing effort that entails a thoughtful combination of people, processes, and technology – and a willingness to continually adjust and enhance a TPRM program based on data.

At our recent webinar, “Third-Party Risk Management for Life Sciences Organizations,” our specialists shared these four considerations for organizations trying to achieve TPRM program maturity.

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TPRM maturity requires collaboration and planning.

Getting a life sciences company’s TPRM program to a higher maturity level means moving from a siloed, ad hoc operating environment to a data-driven, standardized system infused with a continual improvement mindset. That journey includes:
  • Rigorously defining roles of individuals and teams
  • Building connections among everyone involved in the TPRM program
  • Establishing logical and repeatable processes
  • Implementing and constantly monitoring key performance indicators and key risk indicators
  • Identifying patterns that reveal new insights and predict outcomes

Stakeholder buy-in helps drive program success.

It’s an unfortunate truth: Many business owners, executive teams, and boards of life sciences companies aren’t all that engaged with the issues surrounding their TPRM program. TPRM is often seen as something on the cost-center side of things, a problem for security, compliance, legal, and other back-office teams.

The antidote for this lack of interest could be educating stakeholders on what TPRM program assessments involve and the critical risks TPRM can reveal. If they have better visibility into the process and understand why it matters, they’re more likely to have skin in the game – and support TPRM compliance throughout the organization.

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An industry view of TPRM programs
Life sciences global survey: Third-party risk benchmark report
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Taking a risk-based approach involves assessing third parties.

Not all third parties are created equal. They carry varying levels of risk in terms of reputation, information security and privacy, long-term financial outlook, quality and sourcing of materials, and many other areas. The teams running a TPRM program should work with each other and the leadership of their businesses to develop and implement accurate, effective risk scoping for their array of third parties.

TPRM programs rely on a range of resources to regularly monitor and assess critical third parties, from automated news and social media feeds to prior-year results. Additionally, tools specific to different risk domains such as cybersecurity, financial, and regulatory risk can scan for events or incidents and report on them. Conversely, TPRM programs can also minimize time spent on periodic reevaluations for third parties that have strong controls, low levels of residual risk, and other indicators that they’re effectively managing risk.

When selecting a new technology solution, planning for integrations and future state is critical.

In a poll during our webinar, more than 40% of attendees (the most popular response by far) said the biggest technology challenge to their TPRM program was integration between systems. Too often, technology integrations are done more quickly than they should be and without sufficient planning, which can cause bugs in systems, negatively affect data quality, and contribute to a host of other issues.

To minimize problems with technology integrations related to a TPRM program, life sciences companies should:

  • Develop a detailed integration road map
  • Collaborate with other groups that manage associated tools and platforms when configuring integration
  • Include integration testing in the development process
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Third-party risk management for life sciences organizations

You don't have to achieve TPRM program maturity on your own

Life sciences industry specialists at Crowe can help you bring people, processes, and technology together to strategically elevate your TPRM program.
Brad Gilliat
Brad Gilliat
Principal, Consulting
Adam Pajakowski
Adam Pajakowski
Principal, Consulting
Blake Gardner Headshot
Blake Gardner