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GRC 101: What is GRC?

What is GRC?
Data privacy constantly changes, reflecting our growing unease with how personal data is handled. Imagine every bit of your data—your shopping habits, medical history, even your location at any given moment—being protected under a thick blanket of laws. That’s the goal, but achieving it isn’t simple. In the U.S., no single federal law governs data privacy. Instead, each state can make up its own rules, like California has with its 
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). At the federal level, though, we do have essential laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare information, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) for financial data, and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to protect kids online. 

Globally, the European Union is leading with its robust General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), setting a high standard for privacy. For organizations, keeping up with all these regulations isn’t just about following rules, it’s also about building trust with customers, maintaining data integrity, and ensuring it’s available when needed. Here comes the role of governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) strategies, shedding light on how it helps organizations like a dependable compass, guiding them through the complex and ever-changing world of data privacy regulations. 

Are you curious to learn the basics of governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC)? Let’s begin! 

What is GRC? 

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is a set of operational strategies aimed at helping organizations drive their overall governance, enterprise risk management, and regulation compliance. It is a disciplined approach that assists an organization in gauging its efforts around governance, risk, and compliance in accordance with its strategic goals, business objectives, and the technology that aids in running its operations.  

Lisa McKee, a director at American Security and Privacy and a member of the Emerging Trends Working Group of the governance association ISACA, puts it plainly: “GRC sets the tone and the strategy. It defines the policies and the procedures and what we expect from everyone involved. She adds, “think of GRC like the system of roads and traffic laws that guide our driving. Just as road signs and lane markings help drivers reach their destinations quickly and safely, GRC provides the boundaries and guidelines that help organizations move forward effectively, reducing the risk of major setbacks or violations along the way.” 

In other words, GRC is an essential guidebook for an organization, helping it align its governance structure, risk management, and compliance duties with its big-picture goals and daily operations. 

Breaking down what GRC stands for 

    1. G’ in GRC: Governance

      The ‘G’ in GRC stands for Governance, which is how a company is steered and managed. It’s about setting up the proper framework within a company to ensure everything runs smoothly. This framework lays out who gets to make decisions and how those decisions are made, dividing responsibilities among various people in the organization. Imagine it as the rules of the game for corporate life, helping everyone from the boardroom to the break room understand their role in the bigger picture.Governance is all about improving how decisions are made, making internal processes more robust, and ensuring that there’s clear accountability for actions taken. It involves establishing strong governance structures where roles and duties are clearly defined, providing diverse skills and perspectives at the decision-making table. Essentially, it’s the complete set of policies and procedures that define the behavior and direction of the corporation. By setting these guidelines, governance helps create an environment where decision-making is efficient and aligned with the company’s long-term goals and ethical standards.
    2. ‘R’ in GRC: Risk Management

      The ‘R’ in GRC stands for  Risk management, which involves identifying, assessing, and controlling threats to an organization’s capital and earnings. These risks could stem from financial uncertainty, legal liabilities, strategic management errors, accidents, and natural disasters.

      Risk management in an organization looks like this:– Types of Risks: Organizations face various risks, such as strategic, operational, financial, and compliance risks.

      – Management Strategies: The first step is identifying potential risks affecting the organization. Next, these risks will be assessed in terms of their likely impact. Then, develop strategies to manage these risks effectively. Finally, continuously review these strategies to ensure they remain effective over time. By incorporating these practices, organizations foster a culture that is aware of and proactive about risks at all levels. This means everyone, from the top executives to entry-level employees, understands the importance of risk management and their role in the process. It’s about ensuring everyone is on the same page, working together to safeguard the organization’s goals and profitability.

    3. ‘C’ in GRC: Compliance
      The ‘C’ in GRC stands for Compliance, which means adhering to both internal policies and external legal requirements. It’s about ensuring that the organization follows the rules set by itself or by regulatory authorities..Here’s a look at what compliance involves:– Internal Policies are the rules and guidelines that an organization sets for itself. They ensure that the business runs smoothly and ethically and that everyone is working towards the same objectives.

      – External Regulations: These are the laws and guidelines set by external bodies. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) requires companies to maintain accurate financial records and reporting. Another critical regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), focuses on how companies should handle personal data to protect individuals’ privacy. Compliance helps maintain a business’s legal and ethical integrity, ensuring that it conducts its affairs lawfully and responsibly. However, one of the big challenges in compliance is staying current with changing laws and regulations, which can vary greatly from one region to another. This means organizations must be vigilant and adaptable to keep up with new compliance requirements as they arise.

GRC, or Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance, is a strategic approach that helps organizations align their operations with objectives and regulations. It involves setting up decision-making frameworks (Governance), identifying and mitigating threats (Risk Management), and ensuring adherence to laws and policies (Compliance).
GRC Tools

GRC tools are a technology that helps organizations manage their operations and adhere to compliance and risk standards effectively. These tools are crucial for identifying and managing the risks associated with using, owning, or simply being involved with IT within a company. They cover many needs, including operational risk management, policy compliance, IT governance, and internal auditing. 

Here’s what you can typically expect from most GRC tools: 

  • Workflow Management: This helps companies set up, execute, and monitor the processes related to GRC, ensuring that everything is running as it should. 

Effective GRC tools help create and distribute policies and controls and ensure that these measures are properly linked to relevant regulations and compliance requirements. They are vital for assessing whether controls are in place and functioning properly and actually enhance risk assessment and mitigation efforts. 

Integrating GRC into Business Strategy with iTech 

Choose iTech for your GRC needs and experience a partnership that transforms how your business handles Governance, Risk, and Compliance. As an IBM RegTech partner, iTech specializes in deploying and integrating IBM OpenPages with Watson, a leading solution that comprehensively views all enterprise risks and regulatory requirements. 

iTech GRC utilizing IBM OpenPages offers: 

  • Proven Framework and Methodologies: Our approach is tried and tested, ensuring effective management of your GRC needs. 
  • Expert Team: iTech boasts a pool of experienced and certified consultants dedicated to optimizing your GRC processes. 
  • Advanced Automation: Leverage our GRC automation capabilities and extensive partner ecosystem to streamline your operations and reduce manual effort. 

Trust iTech utilizing IBM OpenPages to bring clarity, control, and efficiency to your GRC initiatives, empowering your business to thrive in an ever-changing regulatory landscape.