What is GRC?

The capabilities that help an organization address uncertainty, act with integrity, and achieve objectives reliably using a risk-aware culture.

Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) provide organizations the confidence and tools they need to operate their businesses without overstepping regulatory bounds. Too many organizations lack well-defined GRC programs or have the tendency to neglect funding them. To succeed, organizations must improve resilience and prepare for disruption to remain relevant and deliver value.

The business case for GRC must focus on improving risk visibility, aligning GRC efforts to business priorities, and delivering forward-looking insights to help firms act quickly and decisively.

Governance: The frameworks of an organization’s activities and whether or not they are aligned with business objectives. Activities include processes, structures, and policies that are meant to manage and monitor company activities.

Risk: A sustained process of addressing risks, mitigating risks through controls, and providing assurance that the risks are managed according to policies. This includes measurement of risk, assessment, retention, monitoring, and identification.

Compliance: Ensuring that activities within an organization operate in a way that are aligned with laws and regulations.

  • Strategic: Effective risk ownership and governance that affect business strategies.
  • Operational: Anything that can halt, alter, or affect operations of a company and its processes.
  • Technology: Includes cyber risk, in addition to failures in applications, databases, infrastructures, and other connected devices.
  • Data: When information is susceptible to theft or corruption. Protection includes keeping data confidential, ensuring its integrity, and maintaining availability.
  • Cyber: Similar to technology risk. Financial loss, disruption of business, or general harm to the reputation of an organization caused by information technology failures.
  • Privacy: The potential for loss, unauthorized disclosure, or theft of private data.
  • Reputational: The potential for an organization to be negatively viewed due to a disgruntled customer, data breach, product failure, or a negative review.
  • Third-Party: Ensuring that vendors, suppliers, business partners, and any affiliates have a good risk posture and won’t affect the organization.
  • Compliance/ Regulatory: The degree to which non-compliance can affect regulatory obligations.

  • Stakeholders demand a high degree of transparency, accountability, and performance.
  • Regulations are constantly changing in an unpredictable manner.
  • Third party relationships and risks are growing exponentially, which is a challenge to management.
  • The lack of risk identification has harsh impacts.
  • Efficiency gains through GRC are necessary for business growth.

Integrated GRC, or integrated risk management, is a wider scope, enterprise-wide approach that equips organizations with the ability to monitor, manage, and act on different risks in real time. Integrated risk management is an important aspect of a risk conscious organization that can improve performance and decision making.


Managers are capable of making informed, risk-based decisions to stay in alignment with business objectives.


Organizations gain a better understanding of risks and the impact of those risks on a bottom line. This is shared across departments and business units, which can help in the breaking down of silos and unnecessary duplication.


GRC is united in a single platform to allow the automation of processes. Workflows are simplified, documentation can be stored, and there is the creation of a more standardized framework.

Practitioner expectations are evolving so that an integrated approach to managing risk is desirable.

Effective GRC must:

  • Be driven by industry leaders like CISOs, CROs, CIOs, CFOs, CEOs, legal, etc.
  • Have a risk-focused culture.
  • Be built on a modern, integrated, cloud-based platform.
  • Integrate easily with other technologies in the ecosystem to collect data.
  • Make data sharing easy to be able to cross leverage common data.
  • Target and address business risk throughout the organization and third-party ecosystems
  • Create business-oriented, process-based workflows to analyze and treat risk.
  • Embed risk intelligence and workflows into daily/operational tools.
  • Make risk and compliance available at everyone’s fingertips.
  • Enable continuous monitoring of risks and controls through the use of automated risk indicators.
  • Explain risk in business terms through business-focused dashboards
  • Do it all on an on-going basis for departments and functional groups across the enterprise, and with vendors, to provide a holistic, real-time view of risk.

  • Costs can increase
  • There is a lack of visibility into possible risks
  • Time-consuming process to generate board level reports means stale data, which results in the inability of executives and the board to provide proper direction and scrutiny
  • Third party risks are not properly addresses
  • There is difficulty measuring risk-adjusted performance
  • There are too many negative realizations that lead to:
    1. Audit findings
    2. Compliance penalties
    3. Breach remediation costs
    4. Lost customers
    5. Damaged reputation
  • With no shared language, people waste time on low priority issues
  • Productivity suffers due to time-consuming processes
  • Cumbersome and unfamiliar user experiences are business disablers creating disengaged front line employees
  • Inability to effectively collaborate across departments

Effective GRC establishes an approach to ensure that the proper people get the necessary information when it is needed, objectives are established, and the right controls are put into place to address uncertain situations and act. A GRC process done right yields the following benefits:

  • Reduced costs through automation and by reducing the likelihood of penalties from audit findings, compliance violations, and breaches.
  • Reduced risk posed by vendors.
  • Improved ability to adapt to changes in business models, risks associated with digital transformation, or new regulations.
  • Reduced impact on operations—efficiency gains allow organizations to do more with less.
  • Improved ability to scale and grow the business.
  • Greater ability to gather quality information quickly and efficiently from employees and vendors.
  • Increased access to risk Information across the enterprise with a single repository.
  • Greater ability to repeat processes in a consistent manner.
  • Improved productivity by eliminating repetitive and redundant tasks.
  • Effective communication with stakeholders across the business, with executive, and to the board.
  • Strategic decision-making with real-time risk data and the ability to calculate the impact to the business.
  • Competitive advantage—customers know there is a plan in place to address risks, which should reduce the likelihood of a breach and better protect their data.

Although there is no single, one-size-fits-all GRC solution capable of ensuring effective governance, risk, and compliance across every organization, most GRC solutions do share common components. Below are some essential functions and factors found in most GRC platforms.

  • Controls
  • Workflows
  • Central data repositories
  • CMDB to derive business impact
  • Risk indicators
  • Policy lifecycle
  • Authority document library
  • Mobile
  • Chatbots
  • OOTB integrations to third parties

  • Policy management
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Digital and technology risk management
  • Third party risk management
  • Audit management
  • Resilience and continuity management
  • Privacy management

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