By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
TPRM essentials

Third-party risk management for SME's: A starters guide

Rick Sollet
Rick Sollet
June 16, 2024
0 min read
Third-party risk management for SME's: A starters guide


Stay informed with our monthly newsletter, covering the latest in third-party risk and compliance, updates on our platform, and company news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

In today’s interconnected business environment, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rely heavily on third-parties (vendors, suppliers, partners, etc.) for various services, from IT support to supply chain logistics. While these partnerships are key to operational efficiency and growth, they also introduce significant risks. Effective third-party risk management (TPRM) is not just for large corporations; it’s crucial for SMEs as well. In this blog post we explain why and what SMEs can do to protect themselves from third-party risks.

Why tprm is essential for SME's

Ensuring operational continuity

Third-party vendors often provide critical services essential for daily operations. Consider a small logistics company that relies on a software provider for their fleet management system. If the software provider experiences a major outage, it could halt the entire fleet, leading to delivery delays, frustrated customers, and financial losses. TPRM helps identify and mitigate these risks, ensuring your business remains operational without interruptions.

Safeguarding data security

SMEs handle various sensitive data, from customer information to financial records. Picture a local healthcare provider that outsources billing to an external company. If the billing company does not follow stringent data protection standards and experiences a breach, patients' personal and financial information could be compromised. Ensuring that your vendors comply with stringent data protection standards helps prevent data breaches and cyberattacks.

Meeting regulatory compliance

Even SMEs must navigate a complex regulatory landscape. For instance, a small marketing agency that partners with a third-party email service provider must ensure compliance with GDPR when handling European customer data. If the email service provider fails to comply with these regulations, the marketing agency could face hefty fines and legal consequences. Effective TPRM ensures that all vendors adhere to necessary regulations, protecting your business from legal risks. Similarly, SMEs that provide services to financial institutions must ensure compliance with the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) to maintain operational integrity and meet regulatory requirements.

Protecting your reputation

For SMEs, reputation is everything. Imagine a boutique fashion retailer whose online store goes down because their third-party hosting provider experienced a security breach. Customers might lose trust and take their business elsewhere, leading to significant revenue loss. Similarly, a local bakery sourcing ingredients from a supplier who delivers substandard products could see their reputation tarnished if customers notice a decline in quality. Implementing robust TPRM practices helps protect your reputation and maintain customer trust.

Practical steps SME's can take

Gain insight into the landscape

Develop a comprehensive inventory of all third-party vendors and service providers you engage with. This detailed list will help you keep track of your business relationships, understand the scope of each vendor’s services, and identify potential risks associated with each partnership. See also our TPRM starters guide for creating a third-party catalogue.

Conduct vendor assessments

Before engaging with a vendor, perform a comprehensive risk assessment. Evaluate their security practices, financial stability, and reputation. Request references and review their track record to ensure they meet your standards. See also our TPRM starters guide for third-party due diligence.

Establish clear contracts and SLAs

Clearly outline your expectations regarding service levels, security measures, and compliance requirements in your contracts and service level agreements (SLAs). This creates a solid foundation for accountability and performance monitoring. See also our TPRM starters guide for requirements.

Implement continuous monitoring

Regularly monitor your third-party vendors to ensure they maintain compliance and meet performance standards. This proactive approach allows you to identify and address emerging risks promptly. See also our TPRM starters guide for monitoring and follow-up.

Develop an incident response plan

Prepare for potential disruptions by developing a robust incident response plan. Ensure that both your team and your vendors are aware of their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident, minimizing downtime and mitigating damage.

How 3rdRisk can help SME's

Managing third-party risks can be challenging, especially for smaller companies with limited resources. This is where the 3rdRisk platform comes in:

Automated risk assessments

3rdRisk provides thorough assessments of all third-party vendors, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities. This enables SMEs to make informed decisions about which vendors to engage with and how to manage associated risks effectively.

Continuous monitoring

3rdRisk offers continuous monitoring of third-party vendors, ensuring that any emerging risks are promptly identified and addressed. This proactive approach helps prevent issues from impacting your business.

Tailored solutions for SMEs

3rdRisk understands that one size does not fit all. We tailor our solutions to meet the specific needs of SMEs, ensuring that TPRM practices are both effective and scalable as your business grows. Our platform’s flexibility allows us to adapt to your unique requirements, providing you with the tools and support needed to manage third-party risks efficiently.

Access to a comprehensive content hub

3rdRisk offers access to a comprehensive content hub with best-practices, a digital distribution platform that allows you to:

  • Browse and download valuable content such as best practice questionnaires.
  • Search for the latest external requirements and regulatory updates.

Our content hub with best practices is an invaluable resource for staying informed and compliant with the latest regulatory standards, making it easier for SMEs to navigate complex legal landscapes.


For SMEs, effective third-party risk management is essential. By protecting your reputation, ensuring operational continuity, safeguarding data security, and meeting regulatory compliance, your business can thrive in today’s interconnected economy. Leveraging the expertise of 3rdRisk can significantly enhance your TPRM efforts, providing peace of mind and a solid foundation for sustainable growth.

Rick Sollet
Co-founder & CTO

“Aside from large corporations such as ING Bank or KBC, we value contributing to the bigger picture. That’s why we’re currently supporting The Ocean Cleanup project with our technology"

Plan a demo
Rick Sollet