A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

Traditional risk management workflows often involve manual and time-consuming processes that waste company resources, which can make any organization inefficient.

According to our 2023 State of Trust Report, half of all surveyed businesses manage risk surfaces manually. This is not only labor-intensive but also leaves unaddressed risk gaps, especially because manual risk tracking prevents organizations from fully understanding their risk landscape.

Effective risk management automation is a great way to eliminate the manual overhead and free up more time for executives otherwise held back. In this guide, you’ll learn about:

What is risk management automation?

Risk management automation is the process of leveraging dedicated software enabled with automation technology to identify, track, and manage organizational risks within GRC programs. Such technology relies on data-driven risk analysis to uncover risk areas often missed by manual processes, providing continuous insight at any scale with minimal human involvement.

The primary goal of risk management automation is to help risk executives identify and assess potential threats, making risk prioritization easier and faster. The right software offers a centralized risk management hub that enables easier analysis and reporting, freeing up time to focus on data-driven risk mitigation strategies.

Use cases of automated risk management

Automated risk management has various use cases, most notably:

  • Risk assessment and action planning: By automating risk scoring and generating risk snapshots, your team can brainstorm mitigation strategies faster than ever. Some tools also allow you to automatically assign and track tasks within your risk management program.
  • Regulatory and compliance reporting: Automating compliance management tasks, such as evidence collection and security reviews, helps you stay on top of your regulatory obligations.
  • Threat detection and investigation: Software with threat detection and monitoring functionality can extract context-rich data for your entire threat landscape and automatically maintain documentation for unidentified risks.
  • Incident management: Tools with incident management functionalities gather relevant data in the background, letting your team get real-time reports and event updates without direct human involvement.

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Benefits of automating risk management

The most perceived benefit of automated risk management is the replacement of manual processes with a streamlined, cohesive workflow offering a real-time overview of risk events, controls, and outcomes. This translates into a range of additional benefits, such as:

  • True continuous monitoring: Having a clear dashboard for monitoring risks and action plans is a much better alternative to hunting for the relevant data across spreadsheets and email chains. It removes communication silos and aligns stakeholders on any changes in real time.
  • Better visibility of anomalies and errors: Robust risk management automation software can perform automated rule checks, which lets you identify any anomalies more swiftly than you could with a manual process. This lowers the chances of potentially harmful threats flying under the radar.
  • Enhanced reporting: Automation can ensure you’re alerted of any issues as they’re detected, which shortens the response time for effective remediation strategies.
  • Improved risk prediction: Predictive risk modeling in automation tools leverages historical data to help you identify risks more accurately, adding more certainty to your operations.
  • Faster onboarding and vendor analysis: Automated vendor risk management solutions collect, analyze, and track vendor information to streamline due diligence and make the onboarding process fast and effortless.

How to automate risk management: Steps and best practices

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for automating your risk management processes. Your automation coverage will depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your industry’s risk landscape
  • Repetitive value of current processes
  • Scale of your risk management program

Below, we have compiled some general steps and best practices that can help organizations in most sectors integrate automation into their risk management processes:

  1. Automate risk data collection
  2. Use risk assessment tools
  3. Create an incident response system
  4. Set up continuous monitoring

Step 1: Automate risk data collection

Data collection is one of the main areas of automation when it comes to risk management if you’re struggling with drawbacks like:

  • Tedious documentation process: Risk professionals often sift through countless emails, screenshots, and spreadsheets when collecting the necessary data.
  • Risk of human error: Laborious data gathering causes fatigue, increasing the risk of errors.
  • Ineffective collaboration: Coordinating data collection can be challenging when dealing with manual and disparate systems, which hinders your overall productivity.

You can avoid these setbacks by automating data gathering through an appropriate platform that pulls information from various sources, such as financial reports, internal databases, and external market and industry reports.

With ready-to-access historical, current, and predictive modeling data at your disposal, you’ll have a unified approach to documentation. This not only saves your team time and energy but also reduces manual errors.

When choosing your data automation platform, make sure it seamlessly integrates with your current software stack so you can enjoy seamless data imports.

Step 2: Use risk assessment tools

A process as complex as risk assessment is easily one of the most promising areas for implementing automation. With the right tools, you can automate steps to identify, measure, and analyze risk, as well as highlight the most pressing ones. Here’s how:

  • Risk identification: A centralized risk management platform provides easier ways to identify risks based on the collected data.
  • Risk analysis: Instead of analyzing the risk’s likelihood and severity manually, you can let your platform do the scoring through advanced algorithms or statistical models.
  • Risk prioritization: After risks are analyzed, actions that hit a particular risk score are prioritized and can then be forwarded to an assigned response team or individual.

While automation allows for a comfortable hands-off approach to risk assessment, remember that you still need to choose the right exposure points according to your risk appetite. You may want to consider the best risk assessment methodologies for different scenarios and manually define three key factors:

  1. Data overage for a given risk scenario
  2. Scope and purpose of the assessment 
  3. Specific compliance programs or risk management frameworks you’re implementing

Step 3: Create an incident response system

An automated incident response system leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to streamline various incident management tasks, such as:

  • Monitoring, detecting, and classifying security events and incidents
  • Creating incident tickets for identified events
  • Streamline assignment of incident response team members
  • Centralize updates on incident resolution

A well-implemented system significantly reduces cybersecurity risks by giving you thorough insights into your threat landscape. 

When implementing an incident response system, make sure it has all the following necessary components:

  • Event correlation: The tool automatically correlates events across your tech stack/workstations to identify signals that might indicate a threat.
  • Well-configured prioritization and response procedures: The system can prioritize genuine threats and initiate adequate responses to prevent alert fatigue.
  • Automated reports with priority data points: Incident reports should be automatically generated by the system to free up your team’s time.
  • Custom feedback loops: As your system learns from incidents, it should be able to adjust the detection algorithms and responses accordingly.

Step 4: Set up continuous monitoring

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), continuous monitoring is an “ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to facilitate risk-based decision-making.” It’s an essential aspect of automated risk management and a part of various established RMFs. 

Quality continuous monitoring involves regular risk assessments assisted by automation-friendly tools. The monitoring system should automatically update as new data surfaces, enabling reliable assessments that account for the changes in your risk posture. 

Additional best practices for effective automated continuous monitoring include the following:

  • Setting up key risk indicators (KRIs).
  • Establishing a real-time alert system.
  • Limiting damage in the event of materialized risks by automating tasks like blocking malicious communications.

You may have to use multiple tools to automate every aspect of continuous monitoring. To ensure the efficacy of this ecosystem, periodically revisit the configurations and behavior of automated elements within your risk management setup.

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Key challenges of risk management automation

You might encounter a few operational obstacles while automating your risk management program, such as:

  • Limited data availability: Automated risk management systems require abundant data from numerous sources. Any data inconsistencies can paint a distorted image of your risk posture, defeating the purpose of using an automated system.
  • Complex risk scenarios: Many risks aren’t easily quantifiable, and some might have several dimensions that require human input. You need to strike a balance between the tasks you can fully automate and those that require your team’s expertise.
  • Employee training: Some organizations may need to extensively train their risk teams to navigate automation.
  • Cost: Investment in automated systems pays off in the long run, but it could be difficult to justify the initial costs to management.

The good news is that a solid automation toolkit can help you avoid these challenges to a great extent, and there are various cost-effective platforms you can add to your stack. 

Automate key risk management processes with Vanta

Vanta is a robust Trust Management Platform with a strong focus on facilitating efficiency through automation workflows. The platform’s Risk Management suite offers numerous features that eliminate manual tasks and data and evidence gathering throughout your program, most notably:

  • Robust risk library with an in-built assessment workflow based on ISO 27005 and several pre-built risk scenarios.
  • A centralized risk register with automated scoring and prioritization capabilities.
  • Risk assessment customization according to different criteria.
  • Questionnaire automation and auto-scoring for vendors.
  • Custom tests to monitor compliance and security programs.
  • A comprehensive dashboard with a unified view of risk scenarios and actions.
  • 300+ integrations to streamline disparate workflows.

Vanta automates up to 90% of the work necessary to run risk management programs or comply with security frameworks like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. Additionally, you can leverage Vanta AI to create comprehensive Q&A libraries based on historical data and your security policies and consolidate responses from various sources effortlessly. Other time-consuming tasks you can automate include:

  • Extracting data from reports
  • Generating content for questionnaires
  • Identifying tests for specific controls

Visit the product page to learn more about how Vanta can transform your workflows with automation — or schedule a custom demo!

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Risk

Risk management automation: A how-to guide for optimizing your processes

A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

Traditional risk management workflows often involve manual and time-consuming processes that waste company resources, which can make any organization inefficient.

According to our 2023 State of Trust Report, half of all surveyed businesses manage risk surfaces manually. This is not only labor-intensive but also leaves unaddressed risk gaps, especially because manual risk tracking prevents organizations from fully understanding their risk landscape.

Effective risk management automation is a great way to eliminate the manual overhead and free up more time for executives otherwise held back. In this guide, you’ll learn about:

What is risk management automation?

Risk management automation is the process of leveraging dedicated software enabled with automation technology to identify, track, and manage organizational risks within GRC programs. Such technology relies on data-driven risk analysis to uncover risk areas often missed by manual processes, providing continuous insight at any scale with minimal human involvement.

The primary goal of risk management automation is to help risk executives identify and assess potential threats, making risk prioritization easier and faster. The right software offers a centralized risk management hub that enables easier analysis and reporting, freeing up time to focus on data-driven risk mitigation strategies.

Use cases of automated risk management

Automated risk management has various use cases, most notably:

  • Risk assessment and action planning: By automating risk scoring and generating risk snapshots, your team can brainstorm mitigation strategies faster than ever. Some tools also allow you to automatically assign and track tasks within your risk management program.
  • Regulatory and compliance reporting: Automating compliance management tasks, such as evidence collection and security reviews, helps you stay on top of your regulatory obligations.
  • Threat detection and investigation: Software with threat detection and monitoring functionality can extract context-rich data for your entire threat landscape and automatically maintain documentation for unidentified risks.
  • Incident management: Tools with incident management functionalities gather relevant data in the background, letting your team get real-time reports and event updates without direct human involvement.

{{cta_withimage4="/cta-modules"}}

Benefits of automating risk management

The most perceived benefit of automated risk management is the replacement of manual processes with a streamlined, cohesive workflow offering a real-time overview of risk events, controls, and outcomes. This translates into a range of additional benefits, such as:

  • True continuous monitoring: Having a clear dashboard for monitoring risks and action plans is a much better alternative to hunting for the relevant data across spreadsheets and email chains. It removes communication silos and aligns stakeholders on any changes in real time.
  • Better visibility of anomalies and errors: Robust risk management automation software can perform automated rule checks, which lets you identify any anomalies more swiftly than you could with a manual process. This lowers the chances of potentially harmful threats flying under the radar.
  • Enhanced reporting: Automation can ensure you’re alerted of any issues as they’re detected, which shortens the response time for effective remediation strategies.
  • Improved risk prediction: Predictive risk modeling in automation tools leverages historical data to help you identify risks more accurately, adding more certainty to your operations.
  • Faster onboarding and vendor analysis: Automated vendor risk management solutions collect, analyze, and track vendor information to streamline due diligence and make the onboarding process fast and effortless.

How to automate risk management: Steps and best practices

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for automating your risk management processes. Your automation coverage will depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your industry’s risk landscape
  • Repetitive value of current processes
  • Scale of your risk management program

Below, we have compiled some general steps and best practices that can help organizations in most sectors integrate automation into their risk management processes:

  1. Automate risk data collection
  2. Use risk assessment tools
  3. Create an incident response system
  4. Set up continuous monitoring

Step 1: Automate risk data collection

Data collection is one of the main areas of automation when it comes to risk management if you’re struggling with drawbacks like:

  • Tedious documentation process: Risk professionals often sift through countless emails, screenshots, and spreadsheets when collecting the necessary data.
  • Risk of human error: Laborious data gathering causes fatigue, increasing the risk of errors.
  • Ineffective collaboration: Coordinating data collection can be challenging when dealing with manual and disparate systems, which hinders your overall productivity.

You can avoid these setbacks by automating data gathering through an appropriate platform that pulls information from various sources, such as financial reports, internal databases, and external market and industry reports.

With ready-to-access historical, current, and predictive modeling data at your disposal, you’ll have a unified approach to documentation. This not only saves your team time and energy but also reduces manual errors.

When choosing your data automation platform, make sure it seamlessly integrates with your current software stack so you can enjoy seamless data imports.

Step 2: Use risk assessment tools

A process as complex as risk assessment is easily one of the most promising areas for implementing automation. With the right tools, you can automate steps to identify, measure, and analyze risk, as well as highlight the most pressing ones. Here’s how:

  • Risk identification: A centralized risk management platform provides easier ways to identify risks based on the collected data.
  • Risk analysis: Instead of analyzing the risk’s likelihood and severity manually, you can let your platform do the scoring through advanced algorithms or statistical models.
  • Risk prioritization: After risks are analyzed, actions that hit a particular risk score are prioritized and can then be forwarded to an assigned response team or individual.

While automation allows for a comfortable hands-off approach to risk assessment, remember that you still need to choose the right exposure points according to your risk appetite. You may want to consider the best risk assessment methodologies for different scenarios and manually define three key factors:

  1. Data overage for a given risk scenario
  2. Scope and purpose of the assessment 
  3. Specific compliance programs or risk management frameworks you’re implementing

Step 3: Create an incident response system

An automated incident response system leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to streamline various incident management tasks, such as:

  • Monitoring, detecting, and classifying security events and incidents
  • Creating incident tickets for identified events
  • Streamline assignment of incident response team members
  • Centralize updates on incident resolution

A well-implemented system significantly reduces cybersecurity risks by giving you thorough insights into your threat landscape. 

When implementing an incident response system, make sure it has all the following necessary components:

  • Event correlation: The tool automatically correlates events across your tech stack/workstations to identify signals that might indicate a threat.
  • Well-configured prioritization and response procedures: The system can prioritize genuine threats and initiate adequate responses to prevent alert fatigue.
  • Automated reports with priority data points: Incident reports should be automatically generated by the system to free up your team’s time.
  • Custom feedback loops: As your system learns from incidents, it should be able to adjust the detection algorithms and responses accordingly.

Step 4: Set up continuous monitoring

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), continuous monitoring is an “ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to facilitate risk-based decision-making.” It’s an essential aspect of automated risk management and a part of various established RMFs. 

Quality continuous monitoring involves regular risk assessments assisted by automation-friendly tools. The monitoring system should automatically update as new data surfaces, enabling reliable assessments that account for the changes in your risk posture. 

Additional best practices for effective automated continuous monitoring include the following:

  • Setting up key risk indicators (KRIs).
  • Establishing a real-time alert system.
  • Limiting damage in the event of materialized risks by automating tasks like blocking malicious communications.

You may have to use multiple tools to automate every aspect of continuous monitoring. To ensure the efficacy of this ecosystem, periodically revisit the configurations and behavior of automated elements within your risk management setup.

{{cta_simple1}}

Key challenges of risk management automation

You might encounter a few operational obstacles while automating your risk management program, such as:

  • Limited data availability: Automated risk management systems require abundant data from numerous sources. Any data inconsistencies can paint a distorted image of your risk posture, defeating the purpose of using an automated system.
  • Complex risk scenarios: Many risks aren’t easily quantifiable, and some might have several dimensions that require human input. You need to strike a balance between the tasks you can fully automate and those that require your team’s expertise.
  • Employee training: Some organizations may need to extensively train their risk teams to navigate automation.
  • Cost: Investment in automated systems pays off in the long run, but it could be difficult to justify the initial costs to management.

The good news is that a solid automation toolkit can help you avoid these challenges to a great extent, and there are various cost-effective platforms you can add to your stack. 

Automate key risk management processes with Vanta

Vanta is a robust Trust Management Platform with a strong focus on facilitating efficiency through automation workflows. The platform’s Risk Management suite offers numerous features that eliminate manual tasks and data and evidence gathering throughout your program, most notably:

  • Robust risk library with an in-built assessment workflow based on ISO 27005 and several pre-built risk scenarios.
  • A centralized risk register with automated scoring and prioritization capabilities.
  • Risk assessment customization according to different criteria.
  • Questionnaire automation and auto-scoring for vendors.
  • Custom tests to monitor compliance and security programs.
  • A comprehensive dashboard with a unified view of risk scenarios and actions.
  • 300+ integrations to streamline disparate workflows.

Vanta automates up to 90% of the work necessary to run risk management programs or comply with security frameworks like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. Additionally, you can leverage Vanta AI to create comprehensive Q&A libraries based on historical data and your security policies and consolidate responses from various sources effortlessly. Other time-consuming tasks you can automate include:

  • Extracting data from reports
  • Generating content for questionnaires
  • Identifying tests for specific controls

Visit the product page to learn more about how Vanta can transform your workflows with automation — or schedule a custom demo!

{{cta_testimonial6="/cta-modules"}}

Webinar: Scaling your GRC program with automation and AI

Learn how to automate compliance processes, strategies to streamline risk assessments and ways to use automation and AI on vendor security reviews.

Webinar: Scaling your GRC program with automation and AI

Learn how to automate compliance processes, strategies to streamline risk assessments and ways to use automation and AI on vendor security reviews.

Webinar: Scaling your GRC program with automation and AI

Learn how to automate compliance processes, strategies to streamline risk assessments and ways to use automation and AI on vendor security reviews.

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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