All businesses need to address risk management and regulatory compliance obligations, and a GRC framework — “GRC” meaning governance, risk, and compliance — is the blueprint a business uses to do that.

By extension, GRC implementation is the task of finding and installing technology to embed that framework (or, more likely, multiple frameworks) into your operations.

An effective GRC implementation assures that an organization’s business processes allow employees to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives, and that they protect the organization by keeping pace with compliance requirements. More simply: the right GRC solution safeguards your organization through risk management that works.

That said, finding the right GRC implementation for your specific business can be daunting. In this post, we’ll consider what makes a GRC implementation successful, and how you can achieve those factors for your own organization.

What Are the Success Factors in a GRC Implementation Roadmap?

1. Understand Your GRC Needs

All organizations already do some amount of GRC work. They might do that work in a haphazard way, through spreadsheets and email messages and other desktop software; they might not do all the GRC work they should, or even understand that what they’re doing is related to GRC — but they are doing the work.

Your foundation for a successful GRC implementation begins by understanding how much of that rudimentary work already exists. Look across your enterprise as a whole. Talk with operating executives in the so-called First Line of Defense; and management functions in the Second Line of Defense. 

Then compare those pre-existing compliance and risk activities against the GRC performance your organization should have. Consider which parts of the business are most affected by risk or regulatory compliance issues. Think about what the long-term business goals of your organization or company are. Review the requirements that regulators, industry groups, and even contractual obligations with business partners impose on your organization. 

That “gap analysis” will inform the frameworks you should use to fill those gaps — that is, to impose discipline and structure to your GRC efforts, where none previously existed. Complete a detailed assessment of those gaps. Consider how GRC technology can automate those remediation steps you’ll need to take to close the gaps. This assessment is crucial when determining your GRC implementation roadmap.

2. Choose Your GRC Technology Wisely

Choosing GRC software is a delicate matter. The process is time-consuming, and can be a considerable investment of financial and technology resources. That said, a robust GRC implementation can also transform your organization’s ability to manage risk and drive operational efficiencies. So choosing the right GRC software for your business is a decision not to be taken lightly. 

Begin, as we alluded to in the previous section, by narrowing down how technology can improve your current business model. What gaps need to be addressed? What compliance tasks within your organization can be automated? 

Assess all potential risks. If necessary, organize a team of people who understand your organization best and have them discuss or review what improvements can be made. The goal is to identify areas of compliance weakness and potential missed opportunities. 

The ideal is to find one solution that meets all your GRC needs. Mixing different types of technology can be problematic, since that can generate data in multiple formats. The result is a greater risk of data that’s duplicative or erroneous, and you often end up needing a system integration project to stitch those multiple data formats into one useful GRC program — which defeats the goal of a GRC program that cuts costs and streamlines your compliance operation.

High-quality GRC software is an investment, and should be treated as such. Make sure you take the time to review your options. GRC software isn’t necessarily cheap, but it can lead to cost efficiencies elsewhere in the enterprise as employees spend less time on compliance tasks and more time helping the business to grow.

3. Prepare for Integration of Software

Once you’ve settled on the best GRC software for your business, it’s time to integrate that software into your existing processes and policies. 

Most legitimate GRC software vendors will offer a consultation and a demo. Since GRC software is expensive, many will actually provide extensive demos to help prospective customers find the best fit for their needs. Usually the vendor will assign you an account manager to walk you through the software, answer questions, and provide advice on how the software could be implemented at your business.

It’s also important that you assign roles and responsibilities for GRC implementation within your own organization. You’ll want to assign people to specific steps for the implementation of the software itself, and for using the software over the long term. 

Assure that anyone in your business who will be part of these decisions, or who will use the software as part of his or her job, participates in a demo from your vendor. Sometimes having extra eyes can help you to ask the right questions. If you’re unsure who should participate in a demo, ask your account managers what he or she recommends or has seen other businesses like yours do. 

As you map out how you’ll implement your GRC software, allow enough time for all the tasks. A lot will be going on while the implementation takes place.

4. Tracking Your GRC Progress

There is no such thing as perfect GRC software or a perfect GRC implementation roadmap. Bumps will happen, especially at the beginning. So it’s important to monitor the progress of your implementation, which means you should develop metrics for that progress and for evaluating performance. 

Moreover, once your GRC platform is implemented and running, you should continue to monitor your GRC performance. That means assessing risks regularly, and re-evaluating controls or updating policies based on regulatory changes. Monitoring your GRC performance is part of GRC performance; monitoring never ends, and neither do the incremental improvements and mitigation steps you introduce along the way to keep your risk management effective. 

Why Automation Is the Answer

A successful GRC program handles an enormous amount of information. Much of that work is, frankly, tedious and repetitive — such as collecting the results of control testing, or chasing confirmation that an employee has indeed implemented a certain change to policy. 

That means automation is critical to a successful GRC implementation. A manual approach is fraught with risk of human error, costs more money, and simply isn’t worth it. GRC automation can manage multiple frameworks at once and keep your risk management working effectively day after day. 

ZenGRC is one GRC solution that meets such needs. It can handle numerous frameworks that can be tweaked to your specific needs, risk and compliance. It can also supply your security and compliance teams with a single, integrated experience that reveals risk across your entire business. 

ZenGRC simplifies risk management and compliance with complete views of control environments, easy access to information necessary for risk evaluation, and continual compliance monitoring to address critical tasks at any time.  

Our user-friendly dashboards show you which risks need mitigating and how to do it; they also track workflows, collect documentation, and more!

To learn more about how ZenGRC and how it can support your risk evaluation efforts contact us now for your free consultation and demo.