How to Extend Digital Transformation to GRC Strategies

Sravish Sridhar

19 Sep 2023

With today’s dynamic cybersecurity threat landscape, governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) can’t afford to be stuck lagging and playing catch-up. It needs to be leading the pack, ensuring organizations are compliant, protected, communicative, and driving business success.

The world’s ongoing digital transformation has impacted and changed a lot. From the way we cash a check now through an app instead of driving to the bank to the way software has become a core part of various business team functions like sales and finance, leveraging digital technology is an essential element of our everyday lives for consumers and businesses alike. For businesses looking to win new customers while improving profitability, embracing digital transformation is seen as a critical step toward achieving that goal.

Many companies and teams are doing just that. However, one core business function is often left behind: governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) programs, which are essential for security and new customer acquisition, are commonly stuck in slow, opaque, manual processes. Many GRC software solutions offer only incremental improvements over current processes that rely on spreadsheets, emails and screenshots and continue to fall short of modern enterprise and business needs.

The speed and efficiency, or lack thereof, of current GRC workflows, continue to be voiced as an issueAn IBM reportOpens a new window  surveyed GRC and technology professionals globally and found that almost half of all respondents thought their GRC program was still playing “catch up” to the digital transformation. Similarly, a KPMG survey Opens a new window on GRC found more than half of senior-level executives thought risk and compliance would be the biggest challenge for years to come.

GRC Process Challenges

As more and more business functions go digital, more important information is stored and accessed virtually, expanding the threat landscape. Legacy GRC software simply aren’t built for this pace of activity, with shortcomings including:

  • Manual processes for collecting and sharing evidence for controls and policies
  • Lack of integrations with other tools and systems
  • Lack of “do once, apply many times” capabilities – users need to repeat work to meet multiple compliance frameworks
  • Hard to track and assign tasks to the stakeholders involved
  • No holistic reporting or visibility into risk
  • Retrospective data

As a result of these shortcomings, organizations have to invest more expertise and time toward achieving compliance and are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.

Why GRC Needs to Become Digital-first

We’ve touched on the pain points of GRC workflows. Now let’s discuss the benefits that can be realized when GRC goes from manual and siloed to automated and digital:

  • Increased team productivity: Achieving multiple compliance standards is a lot of work. Digital-first GRC delivers increased productivity by helping team members know what work is needed to meet compliance frameworks and how to get it done.
  • Continuous monitoring: A point-in-time view of GRC programs leaves an organization extremely vulnerable. The software enables always-on, real-time monitoring to build trust with partners and improve an organization’s ability to identify and respond to risks.
  • Connect GRC to revenue: A point of concern for CISOs and GRC leaders is that their function can be viewed as a cost center – lots of investment with seemingly little payoff. In fact, we know that GRC is critical to winning new business (demonstrating compliance with frameworks like SOC 2 and ISO 27001 is often required by potential customers) and protecting existing relationships (in addition to maintaining data security, some customers have contractual obligations that must be monitored and supported). In a digital-first environment, it should be simple to connect GRC workflows to the supported revenue.
  • Unified view: The ability to see the status of compliance and risks at any time, with holistic reporting capabilities, gives organizations the power to share cybersecurity information and compliance status with the entire organization.
  • Transparent communications: A critical component of earning trust is proving that you’re doing what you said you would. Technology should make it easier to demonstrate the current program status to customers, auditors, and leadership.
  • Reduced risk: Modern GRC solutions can flag issues (e.g., failed controls, triggered risks) sooner, so businesses can address them ASAP.
  • Improved customer relations: Digital, automated GRC means less room for error, which always makes customers happy. And when customers know your business is dedicated to maintaining compliance and protecting sensitive information, it can only be a good thing.
  • Cost savings: GRC solutions with automation can save costs by making teams more efficient and streamlining processes, so the team can spend less time focused on compliance and more on other areas of IT as well.
  • Accelerate sales: During new business deals, standard security questionnaires can slow down the sales process. Next-gen GRC solutions can more quickly prove and share security and compliance status, speeding up the sales cycle to close deals faster.

See More: Three Ways Enterprise Architecture is Driving Digital Transformation 

How to Get Started

The rest of your programs are already digital first. Here’s how to get started with making GRC digital-first too.

  1. Map out your current tech stack: Take a look at what IT tools are already in use, what they support, and where gaps exist.
  2. Identify inefficiencies: Take a look at how tasks related to GRC are delegated and achieved, such as evidence collection. Most legacy GRC software solutions won’t have real-time, proactive capabilities. Instead, they are reactive, looking at past data to put controls into place after the fact. Identifying weaknesses will help highlight what requirements are needed to digitally transform the GRC program.
  3. Analyze options: With requirements in hand, you can look at what vendors can best address your pain points.
  4. Create a new GRC culture: Digital-first GRC means having a full 360-degree view into compliance. It means GRC processes are defined so everyone knows the role they play toward achieving the end goal of meeting all compliance frameworks.
  5. Seek out expertise: Modern GRC solutions leverage AI and automation, unlike legacy solutions. Making sure you have the right experience and expertise on GRC goes perfectly with these solutions to improve efficiency and turn GRC from a glaring pain point into a competitive advantage.

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Transforming Compliance into a Competitive Advantage

Building a new program of any kind can seem like a tall task at first. Transforming GRC into a digital-first approach is going to take some work. But the payoff is well worth the investment. GRC can go from a costly, resource-draining program to a function that creates more efficient teams, and more secure systems and drives business value.

When you can easily complete, prove, and share compliance status with stakeholders, compliance frameworks are no longer a hurdle but a proof point that the way you do business is sound and secure.