Find out how integrated risk management can help align your organization’s governance, risk, and compliance efforts. 

Integrated risk management (IRM) is a more disciplined approach to risk management. It uses technology to identify and track threats and the steps you take to control those risks; and gives senior leaders at the organization better insight into which risks pose the greatest danger, so they can make better decisions about how to respond. 

Integrating risk management activities into the rest of your business can generate better information for decision making, helping you to meet your business objectives more effectively.

Benefits of integrated risk management

A good integrated risk management solution can bring a number of benefits, including:

  • More agile, risk-based decision making, based on having one view of top risks 
  • Bridging the strategy/execution gap, assuring that project delivery is tied to the business’s organizational needs and vision
  • Identifying risks at the strategic level, which could have a major effect on the entire company
  • Empowering companies to manage these risks
  • Understanding that risks across the business create opportunities for cost savings, competitive advantages, and alignment
  • Enabling organizations to take the initiative with those opportunities, rather than just reacting to them
  • Minimizing cybersecurity threats and maximizing opportunities, boosting the chances of achieving strategic and operational objectives
  • Providing management with useful information to aid the decision-making process
  • Helping companies create risk-aware cultures, so employees understand that risk exists in all levels of the enterprise and that they can (and should) manage that risk smartly, reaping the most benefits
  • Improving operational efficiency by reducing the costs and cycle times of risk assessments

An integrated risk management framework is the formal, structured approach to governing risk. Applying an integrated risk management framework allows organizations to evaluate their risks by connecting the objectives, the organization’s functional departments, and the components of a risk assessment.

The industry standards that help to establish strong cybersecurity control often refer to IRM frameworks. 

One of the most popular cybersecurity frameworks is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework offers five core functions helping organizations streamline the process of integrating technology risk management throughout the business. 

Integrated risk management, however, can be hard to distinguish from its close cousins, enterprise risk management (ERM) and governance, risk, and compliance (GRC). 

IRM vs. ERM vs. GRC

According to Reciprocity consultant Gerard Scheitlin, founder and president of risk management company RISQ Management, there is no difference between IRM, ERM, and GRC. All three terms refer to enterprise-wide, integrated risk management, a program that encompasses cybersecurity, finance, human resource, audit, privacy, compliance, and natural disasters. 

ERM is centered around the strategic planning, organizing, leading, and controlling of a company’s risk activities. It works as an organizational review. That is, an organization examines its strategic business objectives, then reviews the information technology risks associated with them, to assure business continuity

IRM, meanwhile, focuses specifically on analyzing the risks inherent in an organization’s technologies. Integrated risk management incorporates many elements of enterprise risk management, but it’s typically more focused on IT functionality. For most companies, building an IRM program means replacing risk areas traditionally existing in silos with a single, holistic view of enterprise risk.

According to business research and advisory company Gartner, IRM involves the hands-on work that makes ERM possible: the technical controls critical to effective cybersecurity such as security monitoring, network monitoring, and perimeter protection. 

Both IRM and ERM provide a holistic model of risk management, including IT risk and operational risk, and are integrally related. You can’t have one without the other: IRM feeds ERM, and ERM guides IRM. 

And GRC, which Schetlin calls “risk assurance,” implements this holistic approach; GRC is where risk-management magic happens. 

How can integrated risk management help my business?

As existing risks become more complex and new risks continue to emerge, companies need strong integrated risk management programs. Not having a clear understanding of risks and their potential effects can impede an organization’s decision making, and harm its business performance. Organizations taking an integrated approach to managing risk will also achieve consistent risk management outcomes.

Many companies are adopting an integrated approach to risk management, enabling executives to coordinate and unify risk management activities throughout the enterprise. Integrated risk management gives organizations a better understanding of their risks and helps support informed risk-based decision making.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for IRM evaluates software vendors that provide IRM solutions, helping risk managers and security leaders identify technology tools for their IRM program.

A number of GRC software solutions are available to help your organization streamline IRM

IRM and ZenGRC

ZenGRC from Reciprocity has your IRM, ERM, and GRC solutions covered.

Identifying vulnerabilities, analyzing policies and procedures, and helping to assure monitoring and other controls work as they should, ZenGRC supports your compliance with a wide variety of frameworks.

ZenGRC is the most comprehensive solution available for fully integrated, holistic, enterprise-wide management of your organization’s risks, including these features:

  • Customizable risk calculations and multi-variable scoring. Gain a holistic view of risk across your organization to understand how multiple risks interact; how, if they come to pass, they could affect your business; and the probability that they actually will become incidents.
  • Real-time access to infosec posture. Automated evidence collection and simplified workflows help generate real-time reports, reducing manual effort and the length of audit cycles.
  • Increased visibility and reporting with dashboards. Improve transparency and reporting of your metrics to stakeholders, with up-to-date status reports that aren’t a burden. 
  • Industry-specific content developed by our experts. Access prebuilt and preloaded templates for frameworks like SOC 1 and SOC 2, FedRAMP, ISO, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOX, so your teams can quickly get up and running. 
  • Streamlined vendor and third-party risk management. Automate questionnaires and assessments, improve vendor relationships, and eliminate unnecessary workloads for your teams. 
  • Direct integrations with critical third-party apps. Select from our library of pre-built connectors via ZenConnect, integrating ZenGRC with business and infosec apps your company relies on, including AWS, Qualys, Jira, Splunk, Slack, and Tableau. 

Contact us today for your free consultation and start on the path to worry-free governance, risk management, and compliance, the Zen way.