A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

A GRC audit is a thorough review of an organization’s governance, risk management, and compliance practices and your overall GRC framework. A GRC audit can determine if your organization’s GRC program is working efficiently. These audits help protect the business from risk and data theft and identify and close compliance gaps. In this article, we’ll dive into all things GRC audits to help improve your organization’s GRC implementation.

Internal vs. external GRC audits

There are two types of GRC audits: internal or external.

In an internal audit, your team will assess your organization’s GRC program to determine how effective it is, how well it protects the business, and identify areas for improvement.

An external GRC audit is performed by a third-party auditor to help stakeholders, prospects, and partners understand your GRC program. An external audit helps these stakeholders determine how secure your organization is when deciding to do business with you.

Benefits of a GRC audit

A GRC audit helps ensure that your planned implementation is working as expected. Routine GRC audits offer valuable insights and benefits such as:

  • Identifying GRC controls you may be missing.
  • Revisiting governance policies to make sure they’re accurate and appropriate.
  • Assessing your risk management strategies to identify potential gaps.
  • Ensuring that you're minimizing potential compliance gaps.
  • Building trust with potential clients, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Lowering liabilities by identifying risks and addressing them in advance. 
  • Improving transparency throughout the organization.
  • Preventing theft of intellectual property which could lead to loss of revenue. 
  • Maintaining strong data privacy, security, and compliance practices.

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How to conduct an internal GRC audit

When conducting an internal GRC audit, begin by making yourself familiar with industry-backed GRC standards and guidelines for effective GRC audits.

GRC audit professional standards

In planning and conducting your GRC audit, lean on the expertise provided by industry GRC audit standards. These standards are designed to set a baseline for GRC audits and guide you in assessing your GRC framework. 

Consider these helpful standards ahead of your GRC audit:

Conducting a GRC audit

A successful GRC audit should include the following steps:

  • Collect and review evidence related to your GRC controls.
  • Test the effectiveness of your controls that minimize your risk.
  • Observe various departments to ensure that they’re following the organization's policies and regulations.

Your GRC framework and the controls you have in place will be unique to your organization. Your GRC audit must examine whether your GRC program aligns with the framework you’re using and upholds all the laws, regulations, and standards you’ve committed to.

Best practices for GRC audits

Follow these best practices to make the most out of your GRC audit:

  • Scope your audit: GRC implementations vary from one organization to the next, so your audit will be unique as well. Determine which aspects of your GRC to include in your audit, including which systems, controls, and databases you’ll assess.
  • Create a game plan: Develop a clear plan and goals for how you’ll conduct your GRC audit. Once this plan is established, communicate this to the necessary teams and stakeholders to ensure alignment on the process and the role they’ll each play in the audit. 
  • Conduct an audit risk assessment: Consider all the potential risks that could arise in your audit and take steps to mitigate them in advance so your audit can proceed smoothly.
  • Analyze each GRC component: This is the core of your audit in which you’ll test each GRC audit component and identify and document all the GRC controls you have in place. Test controls to understand their effectiveness whenever possible.
  • Report your findings: Develop a report of your findings, including all the GRC controls and practices you evaluated, any gaps or areas for improvement you identified, and which components are functioning well.
  • Make an action plan: If your GRC audit finds gaps or weak areas in your program, the next step is to correct these issues. Using your audit report, plan and take steps to resolve any gaps you identified.

Using GRC tools for audits

GRC audits can be time-consuming and difficult to manage, but they can be made easier by using specialized GRC audit tools purpose-built to help with audits. These platforms can help you plan your GRC audit, ensure you’ve included the right controls, and can even automate aspects of your audit too — such as collecting evidence and preparing reports.

Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC controls, manage regulations, track your audit process, run tests against your systems, and get suggested actions to take to mitigate identified risks and gaps. 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

What is a GRC audit?

A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

A GRC audit is a thorough review of an organization’s governance, risk management, and compliance practices and your overall GRC framework. A GRC audit can determine if your organization’s GRC program is working efficiently. These audits help protect the business from risk and data theft and identify and close compliance gaps. In this article, we’ll dive into all things GRC audits to help improve your organization’s GRC implementation.

Internal vs. external GRC audits

There are two types of GRC audits: internal or external.

In an internal audit, your team will assess your organization’s GRC program to determine how effective it is, how well it protects the business, and identify areas for improvement.

An external GRC audit is performed by a third-party auditor to help stakeholders, prospects, and partners understand your GRC program. An external audit helps these stakeholders determine how secure your organization is when deciding to do business with you.

Benefits of a GRC audit

A GRC audit helps ensure that your planned implementation is working as expected. Routine GRC audits offer valuable insights and benefits such as:

  • Identifying GRC controls you may be missing.
  • Revisiting governance policies to make sure they’re accurate and appropriate.
  • Assessing your risk management strategies to identify potential gaps.
  • Ensuring that you're minimizing potential compliance gaps.
  • Building trust with potential clients, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Lowering liabilities by identifying risks and addressing them in advance. 
  • Improving transparency throughout the organization.
  • Preventing theft of intellectual property which could lead to loss of revenue. 
  • Maintaining strong data privacy, security, and compliance practices.

{{cta_withimage1}}

How to conduct an internal GRC audit

When conducting an internal GRC audit, begin by making yourself familiar with industry-backed GRC standards and guidelines for effective GRC audits.

GRC audit professional standards

In planning and conducting your GRC audit, lean on the expertise provided by industry GRC audit standards. These standards are designed to set a baseline for GRC audits and guide you in assessing your GRC framework. 

Consider these helpful standards ahead of your GRC audit:

Conducting a GRC audit

A successful GRC audit should include the following steps:

  • Collect and review evidence related to your GRC controls.
  • Test the effectiveness of your controls that minimize your risk.
  • Observe various departments to ensure that they’re following the organization's policies and regulations.

Your GRC framework and the controls you have in place will be unique to your organization. Your GRC audit must examine whether your GRC program aligns with the framework you’re using and upholds all the laws, regulations, and standards you’ve committed to.

Best practices for GRC audits

Follow these best practices to make the most out of your GRC audit:

  • Scope your audit: GRC implementations vary from one organization to the next, so your audit will be unique as well. Determine which aspects of your GRC to include in your audit, including which systems, controls, and databases you’ll assess.
  • Create a game plan: Develop a clear plan and goals for how you’ll conduct your GRC audit. Once this plan is established, communicate this to the necessary teams and stakeholders to ensure alignment on the process and the role they’ll each play in the audit. 
  • Conduct an audit risk assessment: Consider all the potential risks that could arise in your audit and take steps to mitigate them in advance so your audit can proceed smoothly.
  • Analyze each GRC component: This is the core of your audit in which you’ll test each GRC audit component and identify and document all the GRC controls you have in place. Test controls to understand their effectiveness whenever possible.
  • Report your findings: Develop a report of your findings, including all the GRC controls and practices you evaluated, any gaps or areas for improvement you identified, and which components are functioning well.
  • Make an action plan: If your GRC audit finds gaps or weak areas in your program, the next step is to correct these issues. Using your audit report, plan and take steps to resolve any gaps you identified.

Using GRC tools for audits

GRC audits can be time-consuming and difficult to manage, but they can be made easier by using specialized GRC audit tools purpose-built to help with audits. These platforms can help you plan your GRC audit, ensure you’ve included the right controls, and can even automate aspects of your audit too — such as collecting evidence and preparing reports.

Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC controls, manage regulations, track your audit process, run tests against your systems, and get suggested actions to take to mitigate identified risks and gaps. 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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