The world has watched the Ukrainian-Russian crisis evolve into a significant conflict, impacting hundreds of thousands of people, businesses, and livelihoods. For many companies, their main concerns are the safety of their employees, contractors, and families in the impacted region and understanding how this ordeal will affect current and future business ventures.

After the conflict broke out, U.S. cybersecurity agencies reported an 800% increase in cyberattacks over a 48-hour period. Additionally, President Biden warns that a flood of major cyberattacks may be on the way that could detrimentally affect American companies. Due to this, Biden and U.S. Homeland Security are urging enterprises to secure their systems and data now.

While the digitization of business processes has helped organizations reduce operational costs and increase efficiency, cybercriminals can more readily exploit company system vulnerabilities and gain access to sensitive data. More than ever, it’s critical that companies prepare to handle and resolve potential security attacks that can be detrimental to their customer and partner relationships, business growth, and overall operations. 

Importance of security questionnaires 

For enterprise vendors, security questionnaires — the long list of questions used to indicate security and privacy measures — is a crucial aspect of the business process. They not only help organizations understand who they may be doing business with, but the comprehensive documents identify potential weaknesses and flaws in a vendor’s policies and practices before entering a professional relationship. This is particularly important considering over 50% of all data breaches can be attributed to a third-party vendor’s access to a larger network.

Security questionnaires are designed around the following five principles.

  • Security — Organizations need their information and systems to be protected against unauthorized access, unauthorized disclosure of information, and damage to systems that could compromise the availability, integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of information.
  • Availability — Companies evaluate controls to ensure information and systems are available for operation and use to meet their objectives. They want to measure whether systems include controls to support accessibility for operation, monitoring, and maintenance.
  • Processing integrity — Processing integrity addresses whether systems achieve the aim or purpose for which they exist and whether they perform their intended functions in an unimpaired manner, free from error, delay, omission, and unauthorized or inadvertent manipulation.
  • Confidentiality — Confidentiality addresses the ability to protect information designated as confidential from its collection or creation through its final disposition and removal from the entity’s control. It’s important to note that confidentiality is not the same as privacy. Privacy applies only to personal information, whereas confidentiality applies to various types of sensitive information.
  • Privacy — Companies deciding whether to do business with a potential vendor use the security questionnaire to evaluate controls about the collection, usage, retention, disclosure, and disposal of personal information.

Although important, security questionnaires can be costly and time-consuming to complete. However, with proposal management software, vendors can streamline the process and identify potential security threats that leave companies vulnerable to attacks or other risks. 

Proposal management software can be a resource to ensure security questionnaires are completed thoroughly and accurately, allowing clients to gauge potential security risks, especially during their heightened period of cyberattacks. 

The power of AI

Security questionnaires are often populated with similar questions from questionnaire to questionnaire as companies are interested in a lot of the same information. As a result, it’s essential that vendors completing security questionnaires have access to a centralized content hub that contains reliable and up-to-date content for answers to maximize accuracy and efficiency.

Inherent in some proposal management software are artificial intelligence features that help a company select the best content for every security questionnaire response. The software gets smarter over time, helping the user by selecting and recommending content for questionnaires and other critical sales documents. As a result, teams can avoid the time-consuming process of searching through multiple files, documents, and locations to find the information they need. 

With the right content and information at their fingertips, vendors can confidently and efficiently fill out personalized, high-quality security questionnaires, giving teams more time to focus on other important work. 

Efficient collaboration

To complete security questionnaires, vendors need to be able to perform with minimal operational barriers and maximum access to critical information. However, collaborating and finishing complex documents like questionnaires is no quick and easy feat, especially when multiple team members need to weigh in on the content or bounce around different applications.

Many questionnaires contain questions that delve into low-level particulars of specific domains, which require collaboration with subject matter experts from across the business. IT operations, engineering, product management, HR, and legal may all be part of the process.

Proposal management software enables companies to harness the potential of their teams through streamlined collaboration and improved efficiency. Vendors can seamlessly integrate popular CRM platforms and software, like Microsoft 365, making it easier for teams to collaborate on important, lengthy documents, such as security questionnaires, and keep up with the volume of questionnaires they have on their plate.

With cloud-based capabilities, proposal management software also allows remote teams to do efficient work, assign tasks, and monitor deadlines no matter where they are located, giving prospects and potential business partners the peace of mind that their data will be safe — and that assurance translates into more closed deals and more revenue. 

In-depth insights

The most significant aspect of any security questionnaire is understanding what details companies care about most. To build the most effective questionnaires possible, it’s critical vendors know what details to focus on in the document and touch on in any follow-up conversations with prospects. 

Proposal management software includes detailed tracking that shows how a prospect engages with the questionnaire responses. As a result, vendors can see exactly what content is getting the most attention, measured through metrics, such as clicks and shares. This tool gives vendors an in-depth understanding of what organizations are paying attention to most, allowing them to have a competitive edge that addresses prospects' main areas of concern. 

Maintain compliance

Organizations need well-designed security programs to maintain controls, polices, and procedures. Automating as many of the compliance elements as possible lessens the workload, ensures policies and procedures are reviewed frequently, and verifies internal control audits are done on a set schedule to maintain continuous compliance. 

Continuous compliance improves organizations’ ability to respond to changes in the environment, workforce, industry, etc., without exposing companies to risk. It also ensures enterprises always have access to updated policies, procedures, and controls, making it easier to supplement responses to questionnaires with up-to-date supporting documents.

During this heightened time of security uncertainty, it’s imperative that companies are prepared for and can handle cyberattacks if they happen. By leveraging proposal software’s AI capabilities; seamless collaboration and integration tools; and in-depth, insightful metrics, vendors can efficiently complete security questionnaires, leaving clients reassured their information and data are fully protected.