Workflow of the Week: Streamlining Risk Assessment in Partner Onboarding

Emily Bogin |

Making it faster, easier, and more reliable to assess risk in partner onboarding and relationships with workflow automation.

Partner relationships help increase a vendor’s reach and allow them to meet the demand for their products rather than leave money on the table. But a recent Ovum report shows that around 40% of partner onboarding takes over 30 days. While some partners move through the checklist quickly, others can halt the flow, causing bottlenecks for your partner onboarding team and annoyances for the partners themselves. 

First Thing’s First: What Makes a Partner “Risky?”

One reason partners may take longer to onboard? They may be considered risky. Perhaps in the past, this partner was unable to fulfill the terms of the contract – or maybe they have offices in a politically unstable region. Offices in locations where the local government has access to their data or patents, for example, might also be considered riskier. These partners need to be met with heightened scrutiny, be attended to by senior partner managers, or be rejected. 

When risky partners move through the onboarding process without flagging the partner team, the partner team itself is put at risk. And more importantly, their “risky” status often slows down the process, and the team as the details and next steps are sorted out in an ad hoc manner. With workflow automation in place, however, high-risk partners will be quickly rejected based on approved criteria, and medium-high-risk partners will be escalated for managers to attend to. Depending on the kind of risk and riskiness, these relationships will be triaged and automatically sent to the appropriate problem solver, whether they are a partner manager or part of the legal and risk team.  

Partner onboarding shares much in common with employee onboarding, and like employee onboarding, it can be vastly streamlined and improved with workflow automation. But unlike employee onboarding, which starts at the point of hire, partner onboarding involves a risk assessment. Only after passing the risk assessment can the onboarding kick off in full swing. 

How to Streamline Risk Assessment in Partner Onboarding with Workflow Automation

Knowing what constitutes risk can be especially tricky on a one-off basis, and without workflow automation, it is subject to human error. Without a workflow in place that calculates risk based on the available factors, knowing which partners are risky is a shot in the dark. But with a robust platform tool, the different variables that lead to a high-risk outcome can be calculated automatically on the back-end, without anyone on your team pulling out a calculator. The workflow considers a combination of factors to calculate a “risk score,” which determines what happens next for the partner in question. Some factors include: 

  • Location
  • Previous history
  • Company size
  • Legal restrictions

When partners pass the risk assessment with flying colors, the rest of the onboarding process can unfold easily. A partner risk assessment form will usher the low-risk partners quickly through onboarding, providing the appropriate contract, MSA, and/or NDA, setting them up with access to the partner portal, and ensuring that they have credentials for the systems to which they need access. Some workflow platforms will even make it possible to kick off additional workflows from within the mother workflow: for example, the risk assessment can flow into an otherwise standalone onboarding workflow. 

Riskier partners, on the other hand, can be shepherded into automatic escalation pathways, where experts on the partner or risk team oversee and confirm the best approach. The results are replicable, defensible, and can be updated or reconfigured as the partner team adapts to new situations. 

Workflow automation is praised for managing processes that are repetitive, manual, and prone to errors– onboarding anyone at any time will always be a great use case for workflow. But workflow is also an incredibly powerful tool to handle the edge cases that surround the most common pathway. Not only can it handle a large quantity of onboarding cases simultaneously, pulling in the right questions depending on the previous inputs and sending information to the right players, but it is also an excellent way to manage cases with replicable complexities, like risk assessments. 

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