A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

The information security landscape is constantly evolving. There are always new risks that could impact your organization's security, new regulations to align with, or changes to existing regulations. With so much change, it’s important to have an organized, structured approach to managing your IT security — which is where GRC comes in.

GRC is a methodology for structuring and managing your security program that weaves governance, risk management, and compliance together. A GRC strategy can help you create a more stable and resilient security program for your business. Let’s explore what a GRC approach to IT security is and how it can impact your organization.

What does GRC stand for?

The acronym GRC stands for governance, risk, and compliance. This term generally refers to a collective strategy that uses practices that align IT and security with business needs and objectives. You might also see the term GRC used to describe a software platform or suite of tools that can streamline and organize the management of an organization's GRC program. 

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Now, we’ll dive into the components of a GRC strategy:

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.

Risk

Risk management involves anticipating and identifying relevant risks that could harm your business and finding ways to mediate or mitigate those risks. In the scope of GRC, risk management should be part of your teams’ ongoing practices and aligned with your compliance needs.

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. Within a GRC structure, compliance should be an ongoing process that’s integrated into your teams’ day-to-day workflows.

Benefits of a GRC approach

In organizations with less mature security programs, it’s common for governance, risk management, and compliance to all be managed separately. While this works in the short-term, using this over the long-term can result in piecemeal tasks and siloed projects, teams, and tools. 

As an organization grows and matures, so should its security program. Here are a few benefits of a GRC approach that can help your organization and its security program:

  • Improve efficiency: With a structured GRC strategy, you can plan your team’s resources effectively and integrate compliance and risk management tasks into their day-to-day workflows. This prevents security tasks from falling through the cracks and ensures teams aren’t duplicating efforts.
  • Ensure ongoing compliance: Gaps in compliance could lead to legal fines, loss of business, and other costly consequences. With a GRC approach, your compliance is built into your teams’ workflows, ensuring compliance is continuous and helping your organization avoid potential gaps in compliance.
  • Enhance visibility: A well-implemented GRC program with strong tooling offers increased transparency to stakeholders and gives employees, customers, partners, and auditors better visibility into your GRC practices.
  • Strengthen security posture: Risk management is only effective if it’s implemented strategically. With a GRC program, risk management is set up with continuous processes to ensure that you’re managing risk appropriately and quickly.

How does GRC work?

GRC is all about distributing the responsibility for governance, risk management, and compliance to the right teams across your organization and integrating those responsibilities into the right workflows. To implement this you’ll need to build a GRC framework, will depend on the structure of your organization.

For example, your GRC framework may include:

  • Senior leadership takes high-priority risks into account when making strategic and directional decisions for the business.
  • Legal teams review contracts and policies to ensure that you’re meeting all legal compliance obligations.
  • HR departments follow background checks and privacy practices.
  • Finance teams use practices and reporting procedures. 
  • IT departments use critical cybersecurity practices like encryption, firewalls, and secure network management to minimize risks and maintain compliance.

As part of your GRC program, you’ll have routine GRC audits as well. You can conduct these as internal audits to determine how well your GRC framework is working and identify areas for improvements. Or you can work with a third-party auditor who can attest to your governance, compliance, and risk management obligations.

How to build a GRC program

Follow these steps and guidelines to build out a GRC program that works for your organization:

  1. Define your objectives: Before you dive in, make sure your GRC and leadership teams are aligned on the goals of your GRC framework and what you’re working toward.
  2. Determine where you stand: Assess your current security program and how you currently manage governance, risk management, and compliance. Identify what works and what needs to be updated.
  3. Choose the right tools: A quality GRC platform can help you organize and automate your GRC implementation, track your progress, enhance visibility, ensure accuracy, and make your program easier to maintain. 
  4. Assign responsibilities: Divide your GRC-related tasks among your teams. Start from the top of your organization, defining the role your leadership plays in developing processes for your GRC program that make those roles and tasks sustainable. Do the same for each department or team as applicable.
  5. Test it out: Start with a small-scale test, such as implementing your GRC framework in one department to see how it works. If all goes smoothly, you can iterate and make plans to extend to other teams and business units. 
  6. Expand your program: Once your GRC framework is planned, work with each team to determine their role and responsibilities in the framework and integrate into their workflows.

Bolster your GRC strategy 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 is GRC?

A black and white drawing of a rock formation.

The information security landscape is constantly evolving. There are always new risks that could impact your organization's security, new regulations to align with, or changes to existing regulations. With so much change, it’s important to have an organized, structured approach to managing your IT security — which is where GRC comes in.

GRC is a methodology for structuring and managing your security program that weaves governance, risk management, and compliance together. A GRC strategy can help you create a more stable and resilient security program for your business. Let’s explore what a GRC approach to IT security is and how it can impact your organization.

What does GRC stand for?

The acronym GRC stands for governance, risk, and compliance. This term generally refers to a collective strategy that uses practices that align IT and security with business needs and objectives. You might also see the term GRC used to describe a software platform or suite of tools that can streamline and organize the management of an organization's GRC program. 

{{cta_withimage1}}

Now, we’ll dive into the components of a GRC strategy:

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.

Risk

Risk management involves anticipating and identifying relevant risks that could harm your business and finding ways to mediate or mitigate those risks. In the scope of GRC, risk management should be part of your teams’ ongoing practices and aligned with your compliance needs.

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. Within a GRC structure, compliance should be an ongoing process that’s integrated into your teams’ day-to-day workflows.

Benefits of a GRC approach

In organizations with less mature security programs, it’s common for governance, risk management, and compliance to all be managed separately. While this works in the short-term, using this over the long-term can result in piecemeal tasks and siloed projects, teams, and tools. 

As an organization grows and matures, so should its security program. Here are a few benefits of a GRC approach that can help your organization and its security program:

  • Improve efficiency: With a structured GRC strategy, you can plan your team’s resources effectively and integrate compliance and risk management tasks into their day-to-day workflows. This prevents security tasks from falling through the cracks and ensures teams aren’t duplicating efforts.
  • Ensure ongoing compliance: Gaps in compliance could lead to legal fines, loss of business, and other costly consequences. With a GRC approach, your compliance is built into your teams’ workflows, ensuring compliance is continuous and helping your organization avoid potential gaps in compliance.
  • Enhance visibility: A well-implemented GRC program with strong tooling offers increased transparency to stakeholders and gives employees, customers, partners, and auditors better visibility into your GRC practices.
  • Strengthen security posture: Risk management is only effective if it’s implemented strategically. With a GRC program, risk management is set up with continuous processes to ensure that you’re managing risk appropriately and quickly.

How does GRC work?

GRC is all about distributing the responsibility for governance, risk management, and compliance to the right teams across your organization and integrating those responsibilities into the right workflows. To implement this you’ll need to build a GRC framework, will depend on the structure of your organization.

For example, your GRC framework may include:

  • Senior leadership takes high-priority risks into account when making strategic and directional decisions for the business.
  • Legal teams review contracts and policies to ensure that you’re meeting all legal compliance obligations.
  • HR departments follow background checks and privacy practices.
  • Finance teams use practices and reporting procedures. 
  • IT departments use critical cybersecurity practices like encryption, firewalls, and secure network management to minimize risks and maintain compliance.

As part of your GRC program, you’ll have routine GRC audits as well. You can conduct these as internal audits to determine how well your GRC framework is working and identify areas for improvements. Or you can work with a third-party auditor who can attest to your governance, compliance, and risk management obligations.

How to build a GRC program

Follow these steps and guidelines to build out a GRC program that works for your organization:

  1. Define your objectives: Before you dive in, make sure your GRC and leadership teams are aligned on the goals of your GRC framework and what you’re working toward.
  2. Determine where you stand: Assess your current security program and how you currently manage governance, risk management, and compliance. Identify what works and what needs to be updated.
  3. Choose the right tools: A quality GRC platform can help you organize and automate your GRC implementation, track your progress, enhance visibility, ensure accuracy, and make your program easier to maintain. 
  4. Assign responsibilities: Divide your GRC-related tasks among your teams. Start from the top of your organization, defining the role your leadership plays in developing processes for your GRC program that make those roles and tasks sustainable. Do the same for each department or team as applicable.
  5. Test it out: Start with a small-scale test, such as implementing your GRC framework in one department to see how it works. If all goes smoothly, you can iterate and make plans to extend to other teams and business units. 
  6. Expand your program: Once your GRC framework is planned, work with each team to determine their role and responsibilities in the framework and integrate into their workflows.

Bolster your GRC strategy 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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