As organizations and businesses around the world and across industries migrate their IT to the cloud, C-suites are faced with a new dilemma for governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) solutions: cloud versus on-premise software.

Cloud computing and cloud-based software give organizations more agility – a factor many decision-makers consider as they plan the future of their enterprise. More than 50 percent of organizations moved their workloads to the cloud in 2020, according to the Flexera Cloud Computing Trends: 2021 State of the Cloud Report.

Cloud-based solutions also make sense for GRC – especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations need to achieve their business goals reliably (governance), while addressing uncertainty (risk management), and acting with integrity (compliance). But they also need visibility into the various landscapes that make up the modern business environment.

Whether or not an organization implements a GRC solution to help, managing all the various factors and influences that affect modern business processes inevitably requires a GRC strategy. But developing, implementing and maintaining a robust corporate governance, risk management and regulatory compliance program requires resources. That’s time and money that might be better spent elsewhere.

That’s where the right GRC solution can make the difference. In this article we’ll explore GRC software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, and whether this is a smart investment for your organization.

Definition of Terms

Before we examine the capabilities of GRC SaaS solutions, we first need to provide some definitions. To provide some clarity, we’ve defined these terms below using language that can be understood at all levels of expertise.


Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a method of delivering software and applications over the internet as a service. As opposed to installing and maintaining software on corporate premises, organizations can simply access it over the internet.

Also known as web-based software, hosted software, or on-demand software, SaaS liberates organizations from the often complex tasks associated with software and hardware management, as the SaaS provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance. All organizations need to get started is an internet connection.

GRC Software Solutions

First coined by the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), the acronym GRC stands for governance, risk management, and compliance. According to OCEG, GRC is “the integrated collection of capabilities that enable an organization to reliably achieve objectives, address uncertainty and act with integrity.”

In this definition of GRC, governance sets the business context by defining business objectives; risk management assesses and monitors risk to business objectives through identification, analysis, and treatment; and compliance requirements provide boundaries to frame risk management.

OCEG also notes that although organizations have been governed, and risk and compliance have long been managed in the business environment, many businesses have not approached these activities in a mature way, “nor have these efforts supported each other to enhance the reliability of achieving organizational objectives.”

How Does a GRC Platform Work?

As organizations struggle to meet rapidly changing demands, expectations and requirements in the modern business environment, GRC software solutions are designed to lessen the burden. Integrating GRC capabilities, however, doesn’t mean that organizations should do away with decentralized management altogether.

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as “GRC done wrong,” and research suggests that disjointed GRC activities can cause a lot of problems for organizations: the creation of information silos, higher costs, lack of visibility into risks, inability to address third party risks, difficulties measuring risk-adjusted performance, and increases in the number of negative surprises.

Managing risk, compliance, and audit processes is complex and resource intensive. Without a centralized platform, audit cycles are longer, visibility into overall risk posture is lacking, and reporting is inefficient. Many organizations delay GRC initiatives because they fear it will be too costly or challenging – but with the right GRC solution, these fears can be put to rest.

Done correctly, effective GRC solutions allow organizations to adapt to the security landscape more easily with a management process that assures the right people get the right information at the right times; the right strategic objectives are established; and the right actions and controls are put in place to address uncertainty and act with integrity.

What Is the Scope of GRC Software?

Your choice of GRC tool is only one component of your overall GRC strategy. it’s also essential to implement a cultural change that embeds the principles of GRC throughout your organization. That means establishing a strong set of best practices based on industry standards to guide stakeholders as they familiarize themselves with the platform itself.

Ideally, a GRC solution should equip your security and compliance teams with a single, integrated experience that reveals information security risks across your enterprise.

With complete views of control environments, easy access to metrics necessary for program evaluation and continual compliance monitoring to address critical tasks at any time, the right GRC solution should leverage a single platform for all your compliance, internal audit, risk, third-party risk, overall governance, and policy management applications.

GRC software can also make it easier to streamline communication across cross-functional teams, as well as generating easy-to-read risk reports to the necessary stakeholders. However, these are just a few of the benefits that come along with GRC software. In the next section, we’ll introduce a number of other benefits organizations typically see when they implement GRC SaaS platforms before we examine a few of them in more detail.

Why Do We Need GRC Software?

When GRC is done right, there are a number of benefits for the organizations using those solutions. Some of these benefits include reduced costs, reduced duplication of activities and redundancy, reduced impact on operations, greater information quality, greater ability to gather information quickly and efficiently, greater remediation capabilities, and greater ability to repeat processes in a consistent manner.

Ultimately, all of these factors can contribute to an organization’s overall business continuity-something highly important in the face of so many disruptions.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits before we suggest a GRC solution that meets all of these capabilities, and more.

Lower Cost of Entry

Because SaaS is considered an operational expense as opposed to a capital expense, organizations only pay for what they need without needing to acquire any hardware to host their applications. As opposed to on-premise solutions that require appropriate internal resources for installation and maintenance, SaaS providers perform these activities for you. This exchange can greatly reduce the cost of entry, especially for small-to-medium businesses just getting started on the path to GRC.

Reduced Time to Benefit

Organizations implementing a GRC strategy without a GRC solution to help can tell you just how long it can take for this approach to work. Meanwhile, GRC solutions can start working in a matter of hours.

Ready-to-use applications not only reduce the time it takes to implement GRC processes, but it also reduces the time it takes to benefit from such an investment. Many SaaS companies even offer free trials to help eliminate the learning curve and demonstrate its capabilities to stakeholders, aiding in more confident decisions about investments.

Predictable Costs

Unlike traditional GRC solutions, SaaS GRC is built on a pay-as-you-go model. This enables organizations to better predict the subscription and administrative expenses they are likely to incur-a benefit that is music to c-suite ears.

As organizations plan to scale their GRC programs to meet growing operations, SaaS GRC solutions can facilitate more accurate budgeting for cloud solutions, unlike traditional internal IT security solutions which could develop unexpected issues, making it more difficult to predict their cost.

Provider Responsible for Upgrades, Uptime, and Security

In every organization, IT professionals are inevitably worried about the security of their IT infrastructure and the information it holds. With a SaaS GRC solution, the service provider is responsible for maintaining and upgrading their solutions so that they are at their most reliable, and most secure.

GRC vendors are also responsible for meeting service agreements, which means that at any time you feel like your GRC vendor isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, you can simply cancel your contract. Save your IT teams’ time and save your organization’s money, and save your peace of mind knowing that your GRC provider will take care of everything for you.


Because SaaS GRC solutions are hosted on the cloud, they can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection. For organizations grappling with remote or hybrid work environments, this flexibility is paramount-stakeholders can access their GRC platform from almost any device, at any time.

This level of convenience is unmatched by traditional, on-premise solutions, and is especially useful to ensure that your GRC software is working in real-time. Additionally, access to easy-to-read dashboards makes status updates and reporting easier than ever.

Manage Risk and Compliance with ZenGRC

Clearly, choosing a SaaS GRC solution is the right way to go-but with so many options available, how can organizations confidently choose the right platform for their business? Fortunately, there’s one SaaS solution that rises above the rest, giving organizations a worry-free path toward fully integrated GRC.

ZenGRC from Reciprocity is a governance, risk management, and compliance platform that equips organizations with a single, integrated experience that reveals information security risks across your business.

Zen’s single source of truth document repository enables organizations to build a unified and trusted foundation for all of its compliance needs, while insights and analytics helps identify gaps in programs, regulations, and frameworks to gauge an organization’s security posture against peers and industry standards.

With Zen, your organization can rely on automation for the most critical tasks, and it even offers data-sharing and notifications with a configurable set of process workflows that support cross-team collaboration. Share, connect and collect critical compliance and risk data across the organization, all within a single system.

ZenGRC can also help your organization improve its vendor relationships and remove the burden put on internal teams with simple and automated third-party risk management. And, ZenConnect integrates all of your existing business applications for automatic, continuous-and worry-free-risk and compliance management.

Join some of the world’s leading companies and schedule a demo to get started on your journey toward better governance, risk management, and compliance-the Zen way.

The Experts Guide to Evaluating GRC Tools