A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

There are three components of GRC: governance, risk or risk management, and compliance. All three are likely being managed within your organization in some way already — a GRC program unifies governance, risk, and compliance under a single strategy that aligns your security and compliance with your business objectives.

To help you better understand GRC and how to use it to your advantage, let’s explore the three components of GRC.

A diagram of the 3 components of GRC: governance, risk and compliance

Governance

Governance is a set of policies, rules, or frameworks a company creates to achieve its goals. Within a GRC approach, governance involves establishing key stakeholder responsibilities and processes so teams can effectively understand and contribute to the organization’s goals. 

Governance should include:

  • Ethics and accountability for senior leadership
  • Transparency with stakeholders
  • Sound personnel policies
  • Internal controls for legal and regulatory standards
  • Efficient resource management
  • Defined policies and procedures to ensure consistent operations
  • Continuous improvement and growth

While governance is primarily the responsibility of business leaders and the policies they create and enforce, it affects every level of the organization. Employees across the business should understand the organization’s governance components and the role they play in maintaining business operations.

Risk

There are always new risks that your organization could face — from security risks to operational failures. Risk management must be a continuous part of your organization’s day-to-day operations to keep your business secure and running in a stable manner. 

In your risk management process, you should be identifying and mitigating numerous types of risks, such as:

  • Legal risks
  • Financial risks
  • Security risks
  • Strategic risks
  • Operational risks

A strong risk management strategy is an ongoing cycle. Your organization should be continuously assessing new risks, minimizing or preventing them, monitoring risks for changes and escalations, and reporting risks transparently. This strategy should cut across multiple departments, such as IT, legal, finance, and more. 

Compliance

Compliance refers to regulations, laws, and frameworks your organization either must comply with or commits to adhering to. These compliance frameworks can apply to industry-standards, legal requirements, or internal corporate policies — like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. Others are built to bolster security programs like SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

Like risk management, compliance should be an ongoing process that’s integrated into your teams’ day-to-day operations. Gaps in compliance with any of the standards that you’ve committed to could lead to legal fines and penalties, loss of business and trust, or a data breach or theft.

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How these components work together 

Now we’ll look at how each of these GRC components work together.

Governance typically establishes risk appetite and tolerance levels for the organization, which then informs the risk management practices. You’ll likely have several policies that cover risk management practices that keep identified risks under control. You may also include security-focused policies, like password and access restriction practices that your employees must follow.

Your governance should also align with the standards and practices that are required by the laws and by the frameworks you’ve committed to. For example, SOC 2 includes standards for how leadership demonstrates a commitment to integrity and transparency, which should be an aspect of your daily governance practices to maintain your SOC 2 compliance.

Risk management and compliance often go hand-in-hand. Certain compliance standards include controls that help protect your organization from potential risks. Your risk management strategy should adhere to all the risk assessment and risk management practices laid out in the standards and regulations your organization has committed to. 

Each aspect of GRC plays an important role in your organization’s operations. By implementing a GRC framework, your organization can manage security more efficiently and reduce the potential for duplicative efforts. A GRC implementation allows your organization to function in a strategic, cross-functional way so that each department is upholding its responsibilities to the organization’s governance, risk management, and compliance needs on an ongoing basis.

Strengthen you GRC implementation with Vanta

It’s important to choose the right tools to help you manage your GRC program. GRC tools should make managing your program easier, more sustainable, and transparent as your business grows. Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC 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}}

Introduction to GRC

What are the 3 components of GRC?

A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

There are three components of GRC: governance, risk or risk management, and compliance. All three are likely being managed within your organization in some way already — a GRC program unifies governance, risk, and compliance under a single strategy that aligns your security and compliance with your business objectives.

To help you better understand GRC and how to use it to your advantage, let’s explore the three components of GRC.

A diagram of the 3 components of GRC: governance, risk and compliance

Governance

Governance is a set of policies, rules, or frameworks a company creates to achieve its goals. Within a GRC approach, governance involves establishing key stakeholder responsibilities and processes so teams can effectively understand and contribute to the organization’s goals. 

Governance should include:

  • Ethics and accountability for senior leadership
  • Transparency with stakeholders
  • Sound personnel policies
  • Internal controls for legal and regulatory standards
  • Efficient resource management
  • Defined policies and procedures to ensure consistent operations
  • Continuous improvement and growth

While governance is primarily the responsibility of business leaders and the policies they create and enforce, it affects every level of the organization. Employees across the business should understand the organization’s governance components and the role they play in maintaining business operations.

Risk

There are always new risks that your organization could face — from security risks to operational failures. Risk management must be a continuous part of your organization’s day-to-day operations to keep your business secure and running in a stable manner. 

In your risk management process, you should be identifying and mitigating numerous types of risks, such as:

  • Legal risks
  • Financial risks
  • Security risks
  • Strategic risks
  • Operational risks

A strong risk management strategy is an ongoing cycle. Your organization should be continuously assessing new risks, minimizing or preventing them, monitoring risks for changes and escalations, and reporting risks transparently. This strategy should cut across multiple departments, such as IT, legal, finance, and more. 

Compliance

Compliance refers to regulations, laws, and frameworks your organization either must comply with or commits to adhering to. These compliance frameworks can apply to industry-standards, legal requirements, or internal corporate policies — like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. Others are built to bolster security programs like SOC 2 and ISO 27001.

Like risk management, compliance should be an ongoing process that’s integrated into your teams’ day-to-day operations. Gaps in compliance with any of the standards that you’ve committed to could lead to legal fines and penalties, loss of business and trust, or a data breach or theft.

{{cta_withimage1}}

How these components work together 

Now we’ll look at how each of these GRC components work together.

Governance typically establishes risk appetite and tolerance levels for the organization, which then informs the risk management practices. You’ll likely have several policies that cover risk management practices that keep identified risks under control. You may also include security-focused policies, like password and access restriction practices that your employees must follow.

Your governance should also align with the standards and practices that are required by the laws and by the frameworks you’ve committed to. For example, SOC 2 includes standards for how leadership demonstrates a commitment to integrity and transparency, which should be an aspect of your daily governance practices to maintain your SOC 2 compliance.

Risk management and compliance often go hand-in-hand. Certain compliance standards include controls that help protect your organization from potential risks. Your risk management strategy should adhere to all the risk assessment and risk management practices laid out in the standards and regulations your organization has committed to. 

Each aspect of GRC plays an important role in your organization’s operations. By implementing a GRC framework, your organization can manage security more efficiently and reduce the potential for duplicative efforts. A GRC implementation allows your organization to function in a strategic, cross-functional way so that each department is upholding its responsibilities to the organization’s governance, risk management, and compliance needs on an ongoing basis.

Strengthen you GRC implementation with Vanta

It’s important to choose the right tools to help you manage your GRC program. GRC tools should make managing your program easier, more sustainable, and transparent as your business grows. Vanta’s trust management platform allows you to coordinate your GRC 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}}

Have you outgrown your security processes?

Get step-by-step guidance for auditing and updating your inefficient security processes.

Have you outgrown your security processes?

Get step-by-step guidance for auditing and updating your inefficient security processes.

Have you outgrown your security processes?

Get step-by-step guidance for auditing and updating your inefficient security processes.

Vanta gives us broad visibility across our business. We are immediately alerted to any critical vulnerabilities so we can deal with them straight away. It’s a single pane of glass for us.”

Nathan Miller, Head of Information Security & Compliance | Dovetail

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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