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28 February 2024

Cloud Software Vendor Assessment: Key Questions to Ask

 

Adopting cloud technology has enabled businesses to accelerate digital transformation by bringing new capabilities to market quickly, innovating more easily, and scaling more efficiently. One of the main attractions of moving to the cloud is the opportunity for an organisation to shift responsibility for security, maintenance, and uptime to a third-party software provider. While there are many benefits to businesses utilising third-party cloud applications to power critical day-to-day operations, reliance on these services introduces new and significant risks.

What steps can your business take to protect its operations when selecting a third-party software vendor to run business-critical applications in the cloud?

Beyond assessing supplier competency and cost, it's essential to delve deeper. To assist you in this process, we've created a checklist of questions to ask potential cloud software vendors: 

Certifications and Standards

Here, you are looking to gauge a vendor's long-term commitment and if they are following industry best practices when designing and developing their cloud application. Concerns over either could compromise your long-term access to the application.

  • What certifications do you have?
  • Are there formal coding, user interface, and design documentation standards or guidelines in place?
  • Are standards subject to change control?

Cloud Governance

Here, you are looking to see if the vendor has sufficient processes in place to ensure you comply with regulations governing your use of third-party software as well as assuring the resilience of the application.

  • Is there an audit trail for critical data and activities?
  • Can the audit trail be reviewed for irregularities?
  • Do you have procedures in place to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery? Have these procedures been tested?
  • Do you have stressed exit plans in place for your own critical suppliers? If so, can we review them?

Security

Here, you are looking to get an idea of how well guarded your cloud environment and data will be. Poor security practices could leave your cloud environment vulnerable to cyber-attacks which will most likely cause significant financial and reputational damage to your organization.

  • Where are your data centers located, and what security measures are implemented?
  • What controls ensure that only authorized personnel can access and modify data?
  • Is privileged access restricted?
  • Is the system secured by unique IDs and passwords?

Contractual Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Here, you can establish the minimum acceptable level of performance to ensure that, in the event of supplier failure, your organization is protected. SLAs are a way to ensure that software suppliers are held accountable for meeting service objectives.

  • What Service Level Agreements (SLA) do you offer?
  • Are the SLAs in line with what we are trying to accomplish?
  • Are these specific to cloud applications?
  • What compensation is available if SLAs are not met?

Reliability and Performance

Here, you can get a better idea of what the software vendor is doing to protect the cloud software application from downtime or failure and how they would support you if access to the service was compromised.

  • Do you perform backups, and how frequently?
  • How often do service outages occur and how long do they last?
  • Do you have a guaranteed uptime?
  • How do you ensure the resilience of your application?

General Assessment Questions

Here, you are looking to find out more about the software vendor's solution and to decide if you will be able to work with them.

  • Which industry is the solution designed for, and how long has it been on the market?
  • Do you have any examples of software customers successfully using the solution?
  • How is your solution superior, both functionally and economically, to other available solutions?
  • Am I able to effectively manage my operational, security, and compliance risks?

By assessing potential cloud software vendors using this checklist, you can make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and ensure the successful adoption of cloud technology for your critical operations.

While outsourcing business-critical technology offers many benefits, it can also pose risks to business continuity, regulatory compliance, brand reputation, and financial stability. Taking proactive action by asking these questions allows you to gain a better understanding of the solutions and services the software vendor is offering. As a result, you’ll be more prepared and equipped to manage any potential risks of service disruption.

Discover how you can protect your business-critical cloud applications and data with our SaaS Escrow Agreements and Services. Our Escrow as a Service (EaaS) solutions can help you comply with regulations, safeguard your business continuity, and enhance your operational resilience and organization's disaster recovery processes.

Embrace the cloud with confidence. Explore our SaaS Escrow Solutions.

Interested in learning more about our Software Escrow Services?

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