Every business, big or small, needs a well-crafted strategy to manage governance, risk management, and compliance with industry regulatory requirements. These tactics are called a company’s GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) program. However, in the face of such an ever-evolving concept, companies must constantly evaluate whether their GRC program is prepared to handle enterprise risk management and compliance. With the advent of automation, security professionals can better design their strategies to incorporate personnels, processes, and technology to minimize data risks and ensure that the entire organization is running smoothly.
With GRC platforms, it’s important to use new generation platforms such as Akitra Compliance Automation Platform to help streamline and automate your compliance processes. Automation can increase efficiency and provide immense advantages including time and cost savings. Modern GRC programs need an intelligent strategy with compliance information and ongoing expert advice throughout all actions. This strategy must be given through an intuitive platform experience. Leaders in GRC concur that enhanced automation is essential for advancing their initiatives. In this blog, we will discuss the importance and benefits of GRC automation and also delve into the phases of planning and implementing an automated GRC program.
What is GRC Automation?
GRC automation streamlines GRC operations, which involves developing and implementing automated governance, risk, and compliance frameworks. This is generally done by combining risk and compliance management frameworks and collaborating with various teams on security, legislation, and compliance issues.
By facilitating collaboration and streamlining operations related to these functions, a GRC automation system aids in cost reduction and boosts productivity.
Why is GRC Automation Important?
GRC automation is necessary because it enables businesses to successfully navigate intricate compliance procedures and risk management to establish a strong security posture. The comprehensive architecture simplifies automating procedures for identifying, analyzing, tracking, and mitigating all kinds of risks.
Many organizations are still using spreadsheets and manual data-capture techniques. However, as we fast-forward to 2023, we see that enterprises are forced to operate in a world driven by stricter regulations and have many different compliance and reporting obligations. Maintaining spreadsheets and doing it manually is a nightmare. GRC automation is required to make both compliance and management of data risks seamless. In the next section, we will dive into the benefits of automating the GRC program at your organization.
Benefits of GRC Automation
Here are five benefits of GRC automation for your business to ace its operations:
- Credible and effective strategy
GRC automation is useful because it includes automated data collecting and risk monitoring. Automation will give the audit team confidence in your GRC strategy.
- Cost-effective remedy in the long run
Automation lessens manual labor and eliminates the need to spend limitless amounts of time filling out and managing spreadsheets. This lowers your expenses while simultaneously increasing productivity.
- Continued compliance with industrial regulations
To prevent the risk of non-compliance and meet ever-changing compliance requirements, you need to stay current on industry regulations. You can avoid paying significant fines by using a compliance-focused service.
- Rapid risk identification and mitigation
This is possible thanks to the use of GRC automation. To help you effectively reduce the risks, the system has security controls and risk mitigation strategies.
- Obtain visibility into risk profiles
Using the automation platform, you may access a central dashboard to obtain a comprehensive understanding of your company’s risk profile. You can use this to create defensible, data-driven decisions.
Challenges of GRC Automation
While automating your GRC program can largely benefit your company, it has a few shortcomings. Let’s see what they are below.
- Requires initial investment: Automating might be expensive for some smaller businesses. However, now with new tools, there are more cost-effective options. To choose the best software, you must consider your organization’s size, needs, and features.
- Requires a lot of effort: GRC automation is a significant project: The transition from manual procedures and spreadsheets to a data-driven central dashboard is a significant undertaking for GRC automation. If you don’t implement the right program using the right technology, you may have serious problems down the line.
- Requires authorization by senior executives: Senior management must approve automation projects like this one, and getting buy-in for GRC automation is difficult. The benefits of automation might be overwhelming; thus, to persuade the senior leadership, you must articulate them succinctly and clearly show the impact it can have in your organization.
How to Implement An Automated GRC Program?
Before starting, you must get senior management’s approval and financial resources, as with any significant IT project. Making a business case and justification for the GRC endeavor is likely necessary.
Staffing is the following crucial component. A GRC automation or internal planning team must be established before preplanning. It is crucial to confirm with the IT team that there are sufficient resources to support implementing a new GRC system. Ensure that the system can be supported by IT, whether installed on-site, in the cloud, or both.
Once these two aspects are taken care of, you can implement an automated GRC solution in your business by following these seven steps.
- Planning Phase
Start your planning by assembling data to specify the requirements for automating GRC operations. To understand how GRC is carried out and determine the ideal condition for GRC management, speak with current GRC analysts. Additionally, conduct interviews with IT team members who currently use data generated by ongoing GRC initiatives. The specs for the new or modified GRC system will be based on the additional needs.
- Analysis Phase
The difficulties related to obtaining the degree of GRC performance required by the organization are looked at during this phase after the foundational information about GRC activities has been discovered. The GRC system’s design criteria are derived from these requirements.
A system created to support GRC functions can be a strategic investment for both new and old GRC programs. Look for systems that can record, examine, and present various metrics and controls on a simple dashboard. The creation of reports could be crucial, particularly when presenting findings and suggested actions to high management.
- Design Phase
This step is particularly crucial if the organization is developing its own GRC software because the previously established criteria will dictate the GRC system’s design, platform, inputs and outputs, UI, and other rules. If choosing a GRC automation tool that is commercially accessible is the most likely result, the design requirements might be included in the request for proposal or request for quote. Other design attributes include system administration, maintenance, and performance monitoring.
- Build Phase
Once the design criteria have been decided upon, a project team has been chosen, and a project plan has been created, this phase begins. Again, if this is a domestic endeavor, programmers and analysts will be required, and the project’s schedule must be considered. Unless a separate R&D department with its infrastructure is available, processing facilities must be arranged, and many other tasks, such as testing time, must be expected. If an off-the-shelf GRC product is being evaluated, these procedures are optional, but businesses can utilize this time to more thoroughly analyze the chosen product in advance of testing and deployment to uncover any potential difficulties.
Pre-launch activities include —
- confirming that all auxiliary resources, including servers, storage, power sources, and data backup, are set up and available;
- confirming that all GRC-related files are present and in the correct data format for the system;
- working in association with the change management team;
- collaborating with the infosec team, and making sure documentation is available for hosted and on-site installs;
- connecting with the database management team;
- ensuring there is room for any on-site gear; and,
- examining network connectivity for hosted systems, such as internet bandwidth;
- Conducting scheduled pre-launch meetings with internal teams and vendors, with the informed consent of the management and regular updation on the system’s development and status.
- Testing Phase
The most crucial stage may be finishing system acceptance testing before going into production. Here, the newly developed system—whether created in-house or bought commercially—is tested in a setting close to production to see how well it functions and how poorly it functions. Examples of typical activities are as follows:
- performing actual data sessions;
- learning how the system manages user access;
- looking at how data is managed; and,
- evaluating the security aspects of the system and other additional requirements.
- Deployment Phase
Companies should train primary users, issue the relevant announcements, and brief IT leadership and senior company management before testing is finished and the system is prepared for launch. Make a deployment timetable, and be sure you stick to it. IT resource management is crucial here since it ensures the IT environment is prepared for the new GRC application. Phased deployment is an option where normal users are first given access to the system before everyone else. After using the system for a few days, asking users for their opinions is a good idea. Post-launch activities include:
- organizing necessary system modifications and adjustments based on the outcomes of the cutover and system acceptance tests;
- coordinating disaster recovery and data backup procedures with the appropriate vendor(s);
- cooperating with suppliers and infosec teams to coordinate security actions;
- scheduling and finishing training sessions and informing all staff members about the new system;
- delivering written and electronic documentation to users and system administrators;
- evaluating installation and reporting findings to upper management;
- setting a maintenance schedule with the help desk and change management teams; and,
- advising internal audit when the system is finished and implemented.
- Maintenance Phase
Management and maintenance modes follow after the new GRC system is produced. Start measuring performance, establishing patching schedules, and implementing changes while utilizing the company’s current change management procedure. To guarantee metric compliance after performance measurements, such as KPIs, have been defined, arrange frequent reviews with the systems administrator(s).
Security and Compliance with Akitra
Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when prospecting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.
Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered GRC Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and solutions help our customers become compliance-ready and certified for security and compliance frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, PCI DSS, GDPR, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, CMMC, FedRAMP, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently.
The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.
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