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Businesses today struggle to balance organizational growth and stability while remaining secure and compliant. GRC and IRM are two strategies that can help your organization better manage these aspects.

GRC is a methodology for structuring and managing your security program that weaves governance, risk management, and compliance together to keep your business secure at scale. IRM (integrated risk management) is a similar methodology that focuses on infusing risk management into the organization’s operations. 

Both of these strategies provide growth and stability while minimizing risks. In this article, we’ll compare these two approaches and help you decide which strategy is best for your organization.

Evolution from GRC to IRM

The term and concept of GRC was established in 2002. Since then, it has seen several iterations as technology and business needs have shifted. GRC previously focused heavily on financial risks and compliance needs, but now incorporates more cybersecurity best practices to protect businesses as they rely on technology for their daily operations. 

IRM came to prominence in 2018 and many see it as an evolution of GRC. Although there are differences between these two strategies, both of them are relevant for businesses today. 

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Understanding integrated risk management (IRM)

Integrated risk management (IRM) is a strategy for making risk management part of the day-to-day processes of teams across the organization. Given that risks can come from all areas of the business — such as a phishing emails that target employees — it’s important that businesses make sure every department understands their role in risk management. The goal of IRM is to implement a well-rounded risk management strategy that’s integrated into all aspects of the organization.

A well-executed IRM strategy can offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Bringing cross-departmental teams together and fostering collaboration.
  • Streamlining processes to identify, classify, and remediate enterprise risks.
  • Improving awareness and prioritization of risk management across the organization.

Understanding GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance)

GRC is a strategy that makes business continuity a priority. It focuses on creating governance policies and organization-wide practices that ensure that every department is minimizing risk and maintaining compliance. Each of the three components (governance, risk, and compliance) depends on the others and helps the business prevent data breaches, reduce legal and financial risks, and close compliance gaps.

Implementing a GRC strategy can offer benefits such as:

  • Optimizing processes and implementing automation through alignment with security and compliance best practices.
  • Making compliance more sustainable across all necessary regulations and standards, such as SOC 2, GDPR, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS.
  • Enhancing visibility into risk management and compliance status across the organization.

Differences between IRM and GRC

While GRC and IRM have many similarities, the ways they are implemented are different. Below are some of the key differences between GRC and IRM:

Focus areas

While both GRC and IRM integrate more secure practices into daily operations of a business, they have slight differences in what their core focus is. GRC covers broad aspects of an organization's governance policies, risk management practices, and compliance needs, while IRM has more of a niche focus on risk management. Because GRC is broader and includes core risk management components that often overlap with a IRM approach, an IRM strategy can and often is included in an organization’s GRC framework. 

Architecture

GRC and IRM are both organization-wide strategies that impact every department. However, GRC focuses more on the leader’s role of establishing policies and practices that determine how the business is governed while IRM is a collaborative effort across various departments, functions, and levels within the organization.

Similarities between IRM and GRC

IRM and GRC also have some similarities that often make them part of the same strategic conversations.

Overarching goal

While GRC and IRM have different implementation methods and priorities, they do have the same big-picture goal, which is to reduce the siloes for managing the organization’s compliance and risk and make these an ongoing part of the business’ day-to-day workflows.

Sustainability with specialized tools

Both GRC and IRM can be made more accessible, efficient, and effective with platforms built to help manage them. A GRC or IRM platform can offer automation for many risk and compliance tasks, as well as enhance organizational visibility.

GRC vs. IRM: Which is right for your organization?

When trying to decide whether a GRC or an IRM strategy is right for your organization, consider the following to help you decide:

  • Are there any legal regulations, industry standards, certifications, or other frameworks you need to adhere to? Are you looking for ways to improve your compliance approach? If so, GRC may be better for your organization.
  • Are your policies and practices mandated by your senior leaders? Or does your organization take more of a collaborative approach? If you want more collaboration, IRM may be the right option for you, but if you need a more top-down approach, GRC may work better.
  • What types of requests are you getting from your customers? If you receive a lot of customer contracts and other security-related requests, a GRC strategy may be best. 

How Vanta can empower your GRC or IRM

Your organization’s unique needs will determine if a GRC or IRM strategy is right for you. There are also tools to help you manage your GRC or IRM implementation that make managing it easier, more sustainable, and transparent as your business grows. Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC and IRM controls, manage regulations, track your implementation, and offers continuous monitoring. 

Unlike traditional GRC tools, Vanta takes it a step further with automated GRC management, including automated evidence collection and alerts, AI-powered risk questionnaires, and simplified audit preparation. 

Schedule a demo with our team to see if adding trust management to your GRC program is right for you. 

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Introduction to GRC

GRC vs IRM: What’s the difference?

A black and white drawing of a rock formation.
A laptop with a warning, document and verified icon

Businesses today struggle to balance organizational growth and stability while remaining secure and compliant. GRC and IRM are two strategies that can help your organization better manage these aspects.

GRC is a methodology for structuring and managing your security program that weaves governance, risk management, and compliance together to keep your business secure at scale. IRM (integrated risk management) is a similar methodology that focuses on infusing risk management into the organization’s operations. 

Both of these strategies provide growth and stability while minimizing risks. In this article, we’ll compare these two approaches and help you decide which strategy is best for your organization.

Evolution from GRC to IRM

The term and concept of GRC was established in 2002. Since then, it has seen several iterations as technology and business needs have shifted. GRC previously focused heavily on financial risks and compliance needs, but now incorporates more cybersecurity best practices to protect businesses as they rely on technology for their daily operations. 

IRM came to prominence in 2018 and many see it as an evolution of GRC. Although there are differences between these two strategies, both of them are relevant for businesses today. 

{{cta_withimage1}}

Understanding integrated risk management (IRM)

Integrated risk management (IRM) is a strategy for making risk management part of the day-to-day processes of teams across the organization. Given that risks can come from all areas of the business — such as a phishing emails that target employees — it’s important that businesses make sure every department understands their role in risk management. The goal of IRM is to implement a well-rounded risk management strategy that’s integrated into all aspects of the organization.

A well-executed IRM strategy can offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Bringing cross-departmental teams together and fostering collaboration.
  • Streamlining processes to identify, classify, and remediate enterprise risks.
  • Improving awareness and prioritization of risk management across the organization.

Understanding GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance)

GRC is a strategy that makes business continuity a priority. It focuses on creating governance policies and organization-wide practices that ensure that every department is minimizing risk and maintaining compliance. Each of the three components (governance, risk, and compliance) depends on the others and helps the business prevent data breaches, reduce legal and financial risks, and close compliance gaps.

Implementing a GRC strategy can offer benefits such as:

  • Optimizing processes and implementing automation through alignment with security and compliance best practices.
  • Making compliance more sustainable across all necessary regulations and standards, such as SOC 2, GDPR, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS.
  • Enhancing visibility into risk management and compliance status across the organization.

Differences between IRM and GRC

While GRC and IRM have many similarities, the ways they are implemented are different. Below are some of the key differences between GRC and IRM:

Focus areas

While both GRC and IRM integrate more secure practices into daily operations of a business, they have slight differences in what their core focus is. GRC covers broad aspects of an organization's governance policies, risk management practices, and compliance needs, while IRM has more of a niche focus on risk management. Because GRC is broader and includes core risk management components that often overlap with a IRM approach, an IRM strategy can and often is included in an organization’s GRC framework. 

Architecture

GRC and IRM are both organization-wide strategies that impact every department. However, GRC focuses more on the leader’s role of establishing policies and practices that determine how the business is governed while IRM is a collaborative effort across various departments, functions, and levels within the organization.

Similarities between IRM and GRC

IRM and GRC also have some similarities that often make them part of the same strategic conversations.

Overarching goal

While GRC and IRM have different implementation methods and priorities, they do have the same big-picture goal, which is to reduce the siloes for managing the organization’s compliance and risk and make these an ongoing part of the business’ day-to-day workflows.

Sustainability with specialized tools

Both GRC and IRM can be made more accessible, efficient, and effective with platforms built to help manage them. A GRC or IRM platform can offer automation for many risk and compliance tasks, as well as enhance organizational visibility.

GRC vs. IRM: Which is right for your organization?

When trying to decide whether a GRC or an IRM strategy is right for your organization, consider the following to help you decide:

  • Are there any legal regulations, industry standards, certifications, or other frameworks you need to adhere to? Are you looking for ways to improve your compliance approach? If so, GRC may be better for your organization.
  • Are your policies and practices mandated by your senior leaders? Or does your organization take more of a collaborative approach? If you want more collaboration, IRM may be the right option for you, but if you need a more top-down approach, GRC may work better.
  • What types of requests are you getting from your customers? If you receive a lot of customer contracts and other security-related requests, a GRC strategy may be best. 

How Vanta can empower your GRC or IRM

Your organization’s unique needs will determine if a GRC or IRM strategy is right for you. There are also tools to help you manage your GRC or IRM implementation that make managing it easier, more sustainable, and transparent as your business grows. Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC and IRM controls, manage regulations, track your implementation, and offers continuous monitoring. 

Unlike traditional GRC tools, Vanta takes it a step further with automated GRC management, including automated evidence collection and alerts, AI-powered risk questionnaires, and simplified audit preparation. 

Schedule a demo with our team to see if adding trust management to your GRC program is right for you. 

{{cta_testimonial2}}

Scaling your compliance doesn't have to SOC 2 much.

Learn how to add new frameworks to your compliance program without adding to your workload.

Scaling your compliance doesn't have to SOC 2 much.

Learn how to add new frameworks to your compliance program without adding to your workload.

Scaling your compliance doesn't have to SOC 2 much.

Learn how to add new frameworks to your compliance program without adding to your workload.

Without Vanta, we’d be looking at hiring another person to handle all the work that an audit and its preparation creates.”

Willem Riehl, Director of Information Security and Acting CISO | CoachHub

Role:GRC responsibilities:
Board of directors
Central to the overarching GRC strategy, this group sets the direction for the compliance strategy. They determine which standards and regulations are necessary for compliance and align the GRC strategy with business objectives.
Chief financial officerPrimary responsibility for the success of the GRC program and for reporting results to the board.
Operations managers from relevant departmentsThis group owns processes. They are responsible for the success and direction of risk management and compliance within their departments.
Representatives from relevant departments
These are the activity owners. These team members are responsible for carrying out specific compliance and risk management tasks within their departments and for integrating these tasks into their workflows.
Contract managers from relevant department
These team members are responsible for managing interactions with vendors and other third parties in their department to ensure all risk management and compliance measures are being taken.
Chief information security officer (CISO)Defines the organization’s information security policy, designs risk and vulnerability assessments, and develops information security policies.
Data protection officer (DPO) or legal counselDevelops goals for data privacy based on legal regulations and other compliance needs, designs and implements privacy policies and practices, and assesses these practices for effectiveness.
GRC leadResponsible for overseeing the execution of the GRC program in collaboration with the executive team as well as maintaining the organization’s library of security controls.
Cybersecurity analyst(s)Implements and monitors cybersecurity measures that are in line with the GRC program and business objectives.
Compliance analyst(s)Monitors the organization’s compliance with all regulations and standards necessary, identifies any compliance gaps, and works to mitigate them.
Risk analyst(s)Carries out the risk management program for the organization and serves as a resource for risk management across various departments, including identifying, mitigating, and monitoring risks.
IT security specialist(s)Implements security controls within the IT system in coordination with the cybersecurity analyst(s).

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