The field of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) grew out of tools and practices designed to help organizations assess and mitigate the risks associated with their operations. We now associate GRC primarily with the tools and platforms used to run the various parts of the GRC program, but what are the essential elements needed to understand risk, develop governance, and ensure compliance?
Compliance is frequently the driver of a GRC implementation, so if you aren’t sure where to get started, we recommend our webinar The Compliance Conundrum. As you’ll see below, compliance is a natural starting point for building out a GRC program. It can be helpful for organizations that are growing quickly and need a leg up on assessing and mitigating risk.
GRC is a hybrid of several practice areas and tools — the term was popularized in a market research study highlighting the convergence of different tools and processes under an umbrella goal of managing risk. Therefore, it’s helpful to break down each of the practice areas to understand how they differ and how they mutually support each other:
Risk management underpins all aspects of GRC. Writing policies and other documentation to govern organizational operations can prevent unwanted activities and ensure processes are executed in accordance with requirements, and that governance is the way management addresses the risks identified during a risk assessment. Identifying and assessing risks is fundamental to designing controls, such as choosing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and data encryption to protect systems and data from unauthorized access.
Compliance activities fit into the picture in one of two ways: firstly, audits and oversight ensure that governance is being followed and controls are working as intended. Secondly, external compliance frameworks can allow an organization to jumpstart their GRC program by providing pre-bundled risk identification and control suggestions. For example, PCI DSS deals with common risks to payment card data and lays out 12 required controls to mitigate them. Organizations that do not currently have a cybersecurity program can use compliance frameworks to get a head start, but with one important caveat: no one-size-fits-all approach will work. The compliance framework is a starting point and should be tailored to your organization’s unique needs.
There is a large amount of work to be done in a GRC program. For example, risk assessment and management are ongoing processes, audits and oversight should follow a continuous monitoring approach, and the design and implementation of security controls should be adaptable to support business agility. Centralizing those tasks into a unified toolset offers the advantage of reducing overhead and increasing shared resources across different teams. Some examples of GRC tool benefits include:
Not all organizations will need a dedicated tool to manage governance, risk, and compliance. Small businesses, such as those with <250 employees, or businesses in non-regulated industries (i.e., without a significant regulatory compliance burden) can often get by with some basic security policies in a shared drive and a single document for risk assessment and control documentation. Managing risk is all about cost-benefit analysis, so if your organization doesn’t need the capabilities of a GRC tool, then the cost is likely not justifiable. However, keep in mind that your GRC program will also need to scale as your business grows, so it’s crucial to monitor the business and identify the point when DIY tools become more of a headache than cost savings.
While audits typically have a negative connotation, Coalition policyholders can now remove the guesswork regarding governance, risk, and compliance (GRC). Reciprocity simplifies audit and compliance management with complete views of information environments, easy access to program evaluation, and continual compliance monitoring. With Reciprocity’s ZenGRC, policyholders can easily leverage their audit, third-party risk solutions, and policy management applications. Remaining compliant with industry standards and global requirements translates to lower risk and dollars saved.
Reciprocity’s mission is to turn corporate compliance from a cost center into a valuable strategic asset. ZenGRC provides one platform for all your organization’s audit, risk, third-party risk solutions, and governance and policy management applications.
Coalition Policyholders get exclusive savings from Reciprocity and can sign up for their services in Coalition Control, our active risk management platform with free, integrated attack surface monitoring.
Additionally, Coalition’s cybersecurity guide outlines the basic tenets of a cybersecurity program — a critical factor in reducing your organization’s cyber risk.