In the Harry Potter book series, Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody constantly reminds his students to maintain “constant vigilance!” He bears the nickname “Mad-Eye” because his magical eye gives him a 360-degree view of everyone and everything around him.

Your governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) tool is your magical eye that supports your GRC program by providing a 360-degree view of your business and risk environment.

The right GRC tool allows you to maintain a state of ongoing awareness of your organization’s risk posture, align your business and strategic objectives with information technology, and continually meet your compliance responsibilities.

What is GRC?

GRC is an integrated approach to managing the organization’s governance, IT and security risks, and regulatory compliance functions in order to strengthen cybersecurity, reduce uncertainty, cut costs, and improve business decision-making.

The three pillars of a GRC program are governance, risk management, and compliance.

Governance

Governance encompasses all the policies, processes, rules, and controls that help align functional groups and business units with the organization’s objectives and guide them towards achieving these objectives.

Effective governance enables senior management to oversee, control, and coordinate employees, resources, applications, infrastructures, and behaviors. It brings greater accountability into the organization and promotes corporate citizenship and ethical business practices.

A well-governed organization can effectively balance the interests of various stakeholders to ensure fair play, minimize conflict, and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Risk Management

Risk management refers to a holistic framework that enables the organization to identify, assess, control, and minimize risk: financial, reputational, regulatory, strategic, operational, transactional, and cybersecurity.

A risk management program incorporates processes, tools, procedures, and resources to optimize the risk profile, create a risk-aware culture, and implement the right mitigation strategies to maintain business continuity and competitiveness.

Compliance

A formal compliance function enables the organization to effectively comply with industry and government regulations. This helps engender trust, strengthens its competitive position, and protects its assets from security breaches, data losses, and financial penalties.

With a GRC program, the enterprise can create robust compliance policies, assessments, and procedures. It also helps align internal audit, external audit, and compliance functions.

What Are the Benefits of Using a GRC tool?

In the modern business landscape, organizations in every industry have to manage auditing, risk assessments, compliance, vendor assessments, cybersecurity threats, and disaster recovery. It’s challenging to manage all these moving parts. Here’s where you can reap the benefits of a GRC tool.

Process Consolidation and Consistency

A GRC tool includes workflows and functions to centralize GRC processes and make them consistent. It provides a single source of truth to view and manage records and issues across different functional units.

By improving collaboration and communication among various groups, such as audit, information security, compliance, and risk management, issues are resolved faster with minimal confusion or rework.

Clear Organizational Hierarchy

In a GRC tool, each business unit is mapped to relevant business processes, applications, and systems. Creating such a hierarchy helps set up a central authoritative inventory of business units, applications, and procedures, making it easier to manage enterprise-wide risk and compliance requirements.

Centralized Policies, Controls, and Results

A GRC tool displays all relevant GRC information, such as audit results, risk assessments, vulnerability scans, and penetration tests, in one place in a user-friendly format, making it easy to share and take appropriate action.

Improved Coordination

With a GRC tool, users in both business and IT can view a more complete picture of GRC status and controls and understand the various risks and challenges. They can then coordinate better to address these risks, improve governance, and achieve compliance.

Use Cases for a GRC tool

Automate Vendor Risk Management

If your vendors have access to your assets or sensitive data, they create serious risks for your organization. To control this risk, you must manage every vendor relationship throughout its lifecycle, from due diligence and vendor onboarding to SLA management, audits, and contract renewals.

A GRC tool offers automation to streamline your vendor and third-party risk management and compliance program.

Operational Risk management

Identify, assess, monitor, and control threats to business operations with a GRC tool. Discover relevant risks, apply controls, and measure their effectiveness to minimize operational risk and maintain business continuity.

Procedure and Policy Management

A GRC tool provides a standardized management system to create and enforce policies, assess performance, and manage exceptions and issues. It also brings greater transparency into the organization, so everyone knows what’s expected of them to meet the defined standards.

Centralized SLA Management

With a GRC tool, you can create and manage all SLA metrics and minimum thresholds from one central location. Link SLAs to vendors and contracts and send reminders or alerts when you identify issues that affect vendor performance. You also get better leverage in contract negotiations with vendors by tracking key risk indicators over time.

Automated Incident Management

Automate the incident response process with a GRC tool. Create and apply relevant business rules, direct incidents to the right channels, and design appropriate correction paths. You can also track response progress on a central dashboard and create an audit trail for later analysis.

How to Choose a GRC tool

Modern organizations need a magic eye like Professor Moody’s to see the full circle of their GRC program – and this is where GRC tools come in.

The best GRC tools include the following features and capabilities:

  • Content and document management
  • Workflow management
  • Audit management
  • Risk data management
  • Analytics
  • Dashboards and reports

A GRC tool is an important investment, so keep the following in mind before signing on the dotted line.

Stakeholder Requirements

Your first step when looking for a GRC tool should be talking to the various internal stakeholders. Multiple groups within your organization will need this tool to function, including IT operations, security, disaster recovery, IT audit, general audit department, and corporate compliance.

Conversations with stakeholders will yield insights into every department’s needs and goals. Moreover, you can see how your employees will use the tool. If you spend money on a GRC software that does include functionalities your stakeholders need to do their jobs, you won’t be able to meet your compliance management or enterprise risk management goals.

Size Up Your Business Needs

Choosing a governance, risk, and compliance tool requires more than looking at where you’ve been or even where you are right now. You also need to look at your future.

Perform a risk assessment to determine how you can mitigate new risks and how a GRC tool can help you with this goal. Assess the potential legal, financial, and reputational impact of noncompliance.

Create a Strategy

Your compliance stance and business objectives should inform your choice of a GRC platform. Choosing a GRC tool should come after you develop a GRC implementation strategy.

Seek Agile

Your GRC solution must provide features that keep you agile. Right now, you may only need SOX compliance capabilities, but in the future, you may need to achieve HIPAA compliance or leverage the COSO framework. The GRC software solution must match your future self and grow with you.

A GRC software like ZenGRC perfectly matches your need for agility. ZenGRC comes with two levels of seed content: one to help you start using the product and one to help you grow over time. Basic seed content involves information already transcribed to the system, allowing you easy access to object creation and tool use.

Advanced seed content includes best practices and GRC experts to help you navigate GRC implementation. For example, suppose you’re adding PCI DSS compliance to your repertoire. In that case, you can leverage a Vendor Risk Survey consistent with the standard to assess vendor risks and design appropriate mitigation strategies.

Control Mapping Functionality

The GRC tool must effortlessly integrate with your IT landscape. ZenGRC allows you to focus your internal controls by mapping across standards and regulations. Once you do this, ZenGRC provides a 360-degree view of your compliance processes and shows where your controls overlap.

In addition, it offers a gap analysis feature so you can see what, if any, work remains. Starting with your basic mapping, ZenGRC makes the compliance and risk management process easier by helping you visualize the next steps.

Look for a Rapid-Deploying Tool

Deployment speed and transition ease should be one of your priorities when researching GRC tools. Ensuring that your GRC technology integrates with your current infrastructure is also essential.

ZenGRC offers Jira integration offering agile movement from your current systems to those you may decide to purchase in the future. Moreover, with Reciprocity’s experts and the tool’s seed content, deployment can be completed in just 6–8 weeks.

Result: you can get a 360-degree view of your compliance and risk stance in the shortest possible time.

Conclusion

Choosing the right GRC tool allows you to manage current risks and meet current compliance responsibilities while preparing for the future.

ZenGRC provides a centralized, highly visual environment to meet your GRC needs. You can manage risk and regulatory compliance with ease. It eliminates sub-optimal data silos, streamlines workflows, and automates day-to-day tasks.

As a result, leadership has access to all the information necessary to strengthen the organization’s risk and compliance posture and make better decisions that benefit the organization.

For more information about ZenGRC and how it can benefit your organization, contact us for a free demo.