SME Vendors

Unlock the Benefits of Working with a HECVAT Consultant: A Guide for SME Vendors

Maximize Benefits with SM Vendor Consultant Guide Organizations across various

Maximize Benefits with SM Vendor Consultant Guide

Organizations across various industries collect, store, and process large amounts of data. With data comes risks and threats that can compromise your organization’s integrity and reputation. Cybersecurity has become a crucial aspect of running a business, and ensuring that data is safe and secure is vital.

HECVAT (Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit) is a questionnaire framework used by universities to evaluate the vendor risk of third party services such as cloud services, SaaS products and cloud service providers. It’s widely used by US education institutions to assess the security programs of vendors and service providers.

A HECVAT Consultant is an expert who performs a vendor assessment to assess vendor risks and vulnerabilities and provides recommendations to mitigate the risks in order to prepare a completed HECVAT.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of working with a HECVAT Consultant and how they can help your organization stay secure.

What is a HECVAT Consultant?

A HECVAT Consultant is a professional who specializes in assessing the security posture of organizations that handle sensitive and in some cases critical data. They evaluate your organization’s systems, processes cybersecurity policies procurement processes, and controls to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities. Based on their findings, they recommend solutions to mitigate those risks and strengthen your security posture. This is a very time-consuming task for the vendor to do alone.

What does a HECVAT Consultant do?

A HECVAT consultant should have an abundance of information security experience including experience working in IT governance, risk and compliance, third party and vendor risk management. With this experience the consultant will be able to effectively guide you on your HECVAT compliance journey.

  • Conduct workshops to understand the risk of your product to the education institutions.
  • Prepare a current state analysis of your HECVAT assessment score.
  • Define the high priority gaps to help improve your score.
  • Assist in implementing (mitigating) the gaps.
  • Provide expert documentation such as policies, procedures in line with identified gaps.
  • Provides guidance, training and awareness around cybersecurity to elevate the knowledge of your team.
  • Prepares the HECVAT self-assessment submission.
  • Supports and monitors the process.

Benefits of Working with a HECVAT Consultant

Working with a HECVAT Consultant has numerous benefits, including:

Mitigate Risks and Vulnerabilities

A HECVAT Consultant can help you identify and mitigate potential risks and vulnerabilities that could compromise your organization’s sensitive data. They can assess your security posture and provide recommendations on how to improve it. In some cases, they may also implement the measures recommended to reduce risk.

Compliance with Regulations

Data privacy regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA have strict requirements and practices that organizations must comply with.

A HECVAT Consultant can help you ensure that your organization meets these requirements and avoid penalties and legal actions

Cost-Effective – save time and money

Working with a HECVAT Consultant can save your organization money in the long run. By identifying and mitigating risks and vulnerabilities, you can avoid costly data breaches and their associated expenses such as legal fees, damages, and reputational damage.

Expertise and Experience

HECVAT Consultants have expertise and experience in cybersecurity and data protection across multiple institutions. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their knowledge and experience. This can help your organization stay ahead of emerging threats and stay secure. Additionally, an experienced HECVAT consultant will have experience with security in the context of higher education institutions.
Improved Security Posture

Working with a HECVAT Consultant can improve your organization’s security posture. By identifying and mitigating risks and vulnerabilities, you can strengthen your security and protect your sensitive data. This can enhance your reputation and build trust with your customers.
Secure Cloud Services

The consultant can assess the risk of cloud services to ensure they do not introduce a risk to your organization. Cloud services offer many benefits, but being aware of security requirements can help avoid complications down the road.

Communication with Higher Education institutions

Some institutions may reach out to request additional information once you’ve submitted your HECVAT. The consultant should be able to assist in answering questions.

Cloud Service Providers

The consultant can recommend solutions from cloud service providers that help mitigate risk. The consultant should be able to recommend multiple solutions that fit your risk model and budget.

Third-Party Vendors

It’s important that vendors are also reviewing the security of their third-party vendors including cloud vendors and third party solution. The consultant can provide guidance in this area. This includes third-party software libraries.

Personally identifiable information (PII)

If your product will access, process, or store PII then it may require additional security controls. The consultant should be informed of any types of PII. This is an essential part of the risk assessment.
CIS Critical Security Controls

You may have heard of this industry standards framework. A consultant can provide information on how this framework can satisfy data protection requirements while saving time and money.


How long does it take to work with a HECVAT Consultant?

The duration of working with a HECVAT Consultant depends on the size and complexity of your organization’s systems and processes. Typically, the assessment can take several weeks to complete, and the implementation of the assessments and recommendations can take several months.

Is it expensive to work with a HECVAT Consultant?

Working with a HECVAT Consultant can be cost-effective in the long run. The cost of their services depends on the scope and complexity of the risk assessment and recommendations. However, the cost of their services is significantly lower than the potential expenses associated with a data breach. Furthermore, the cost of completing the HECVAT without a consultant should not be underestimated. It can be a very time-consuming activity.

Does working with a HECVAT Consultant guarantee security?

Working with a HECVAT Consultant can significantly improve your organization’s security posture and mitigate risks and vulnerabilities. However, it’s important to note that no system, program, or process is completely foolproof. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and organizations must remain vigilant and adaptive to protect sensitive institutional information and data.

Should we be using a Security Framework?

The consultant will be able to review your existing security program and make recommendations for a suitable industry standard framework, for example, NIST cybersecurity framework, or NIST SP 800-53.

What about PCI compliance?

Under HECVAT guidance a vendor who processes credit card payments within the application must provide PCI-DSS compliance information. This is an essential requirement. The consultant can provide guidance for this.

Can the consultant help with HECVAT Lite and Full?

Yes, an experienced consultant can perform assessments with both the HECVAT Lite and HECVAT Full.


Data is a valuable asset for organizations across various industries, and protecting it should be a top priority. Working with a HECVAT Consultant will help with data protection requirements, identifying risks and vulnerabilities and provide solutions to mitigate risk.

By improving your security posture, you can avoid costly data breaches, comply with regulations, and build trust with your customers. Additionally, the HECVAT consultant can save time completing the HECVAT and achieve a score that satisfies the requirements of prospective higher ed clients and education customers’ procurement process. Establish contact with us to get a free discovery call and learn how HECVAT Pro can help you.


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David Clarkson

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