Are security questionnaires becoming obsolete?

July 26, 2023
3 minutes

For today’s B2B technology vendors, security questionnaires have become a common, tedious part of any enterprise procurement process. Filled with questions around a company’s security controls and practices, a security questionnaire is designed to help an enterprise understand how seriously a potential vendor takes security, and whether they’re adopting best practices to avoid potential threats. 

Why? Because more and more, enterprises are under pressure from their customers and regulators to keep data safe — and bad actors are becoming increasingly effective at getting that information. As such, if enterprises want to ensure that all their information is being kept safe, they need to guarantee that their vendors have robust security measures in place. That’s where the security questionnaires come in.

The question is: are security questionnaires the most effective way to get the information enterprise customers need? And what are the alternatives? We’re exploring that and more in this article. 

What are the drawbacks of security questionnaires?

There’s no question that the role that security questionnaires play are important. They are key to defining a vendor’s security posture, which is a core aspect of the vendor risk assessment for enterprises. Pulse, they act as an extension of the enterprise’s security team within the procurement process, helping to ensure that only the most security-forward vendors become partners. 

From a partnership perspective, a security questionnaire can also help accelerate the relationship, ensuring that everyone is on the same page by the time the vendor is onboarded. With a lot of data provided up front, the vendor’s technology can be more easily integrated once the contract is signed. 

With that said, security questionnaires also have a number of drawbacks: 

  • They take a lot of time to fill. This slows down the procurement process and makes it harder for enterprise procurement teams to bring on a new vendor quickly.
  • There isn’t a consistent standard for questionnaires. Companies have to put together their own set of questions depending on the type of vendor they’re looking for, and vendors have to adjust to each questionnaire when it comes.
  • The process is often inefficient. Teams are often left to their own devices when it comes to creating a process for asking questions and reviewing responses, and it’s rarely an optimal experience.

What is the alternative to security questionnaires? 

When it comes to security and compliance, there’s an important shift happening: more and more early-stage companies are becoming SOC 2 compliant. This means they’re taking the time to set up and audit their security controls, as well as those under any other trust service criteria, and having them confirmed as compliant with SOC 2 requirements.

Vendors that are SOC 2 compliant have already gone through the extensive process of meeting a number of different security requirements — most of which align with the asks in a security questionnaire. This means that enterprise buyers can do away with their security questionnaire, and instead rely on a complete and timely SOC 2 report. In fact, vendors can securely send the report over in a matter of minutes, instead of rounding up a team of people to answer a number of questions. 

This not only vastly reduces the time spent confirming that a vendor is abiding by security best practices, it also acts as an industry-recognized stamp of approval that enterprises are comfortable putting their money and reputation behind.

Taking the security questionnaire out of the equation

While it’s true that becoming SOC 2 compliant requires a significant upfront investment — both in terms of time and resources — the ROI in terms of hours saved in the sales process is significant in the long run. The benefits are clear for vendors and enterprise procurement teams alike. For vendors, it means less time gathering team members to fill seemingly endless forms with multiple variations of the same question. For enterprise teams, it vastly reduces the time spent reviewing security requirements, and it completely takes away any guessing or back and forth around answers that are either too vague or incorrect.

Speed has become an important metric for most organizations and their departments. Everyone benefits from moving quickly. As such, we believe that we’ll continue to see early stage B2B companies go down the SOC 2 compliance journey — especially if they primarily serve enterprise clients and handle their customer data or other highly sensitive information. Security questions will become more automated and streamlined, guaranteed, but they will also likely phase out as more companies opt to abide by industry standards, and enterprises adopt a preference for SOC 2 compliant vendors.

At Pima, we’ve made it easier than ever for SaaS vendors to share security information quickly and securely. Learn more about our product on the homepage

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