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Blog > What Are the Elements Of an Effective GRC Program? And GRC Best Practices

What Are the Elements Of an Effective GRC Program? And GRC Best Practices

VComply Editorial Team
October 20, 2022
6 minutes

Do you want to enhance your organization efficiency, improve compliance posture, reduce risks, and enact a unified governance policy? An effective GRC program is the answer.

For any organization to manage its To ensure efficient management of business operations, every organization should adhere to the fundamental Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) framework. This includes the oversight of business activities, including IT operations, to ensure alignment with regulatory mandates.

Think of GRC as a glue that holds together your business goals and helps you ensure that you comply with your company’s policies and regulations and reduce the risks associated with them. Since GRC offers a structured and scalable framework for managing compliance, governance and security, it makes it the go-to place for all your information security management needs.

This article discusses the elements of a successful GRC governance program, its obstacles, and how to create one that aligns with the needs of all departments within an organization. 

About governance risk and compliance (GRC)

According to the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), GRC is an integrated collection of capabilities that facilitate the achievement of objectives reliably, address uncertainty, and ensure that ethical behavior is always adhered to by the organization.

Essential elements of the GRC program

Governance, risk, and compliance, often abbreviated as GRC, encompasses three key business components:


This involves ensuring that company-wide management aligns with overarching business goals and objectives. Governance forms the foundation upon which risk management and compliance are built. It encompasses a broad spectrum of practices and principles that steer an organization towards its objectives while ensuring ethical conduct and accountability.

  • Leadership and Oversight:

Effective governance begins with strong leadership and oversight. This element involves the establishment of leadership roles and responsibilities. It includes defining the roles of executives, board members, and management in shaping the organization’s GRC strategy.

  • Defined Policies and Procedures:

Governance relies on the presence of well-defined policies and procedures. These documents provide a clear set of rules and guidelines for employees and stakeholders to follow. They cover a wide range of areas, including ethics, data management, and operational processes.

  • Ethical Standards:

Ethical conduct is at the core of governance. Organizations should establish ethical standards that guide decision-making processes. Upholding these standards fosters a culture of integrity and trust within the organization.

  • Transparency:

Transparency is an essential element of governance. It involves open communication and the disclosure of relevant information to stakeholders. Transparency ensures that all parties are informed about the organization’s operations and decisions.

  • Accountability:

Accountability is crucial for effective governance. It means that individuals and teams are responsible for their actions and decisions. This element helps in ensuring that objectives are met and ethical standards are upheld.

  • Risk Management Integration:

Governance and risk management go hand in hand. Effective governance incorporates risk management into decision-making processes. This involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks that could impact the organization’s objectives.

  • Continuous Improvement:

The best governance practices are dynamic and subject to continuous improvement. Organizations should regularly review and enhance their governance framework to adapt to changing circumstances and evolving risks.

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Risk Management

Risk management plays a pivotal role in the Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) framework. Effectively identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks is essential for safeguarding an organization’s objectives and ensuring compliance.

risk assessment- review  and monitoring

  • Risk Identification:

The foundation of risk management is the identification of potential risks. This element involves recognizing and understanding the various risks an organization may face, whether they are strategic, operational, financial, or related to cybersecurity.

  • Risk Assessment:

Once risks are identified, the next step is to assess them. This assessment involves determining the likelihood and potential impact of each risk on the organization’s objectives. A comprehensive risk assessment informs subsequent risk mitigation strategies.

  • Risk Mitigation:

Risk mitigation is a critical element of GRC. It involves developing strategies and actions to reduce the likelihood and impact of identified risks. Effective risk mitigation helps protect the organization’s assets and objectives.

  • Risk Monitoring and Reporting:

Risk management is an ongoing process. Organizations must continuously monitor the risks they face and adjust mitigation strategies as needed. Regular reporting to key stakeholders ensures transparency and informed decision-making.

  • Integration with Compliance:

Risk management and compliance go hand in hand. GRC integrates these two elements to ensure that compliance efforts address potential risks. Compliance with laws and regulations is a key aspect of risk management.

Compliance Management

In GRC, compliance management involves taking appropriate measures to ensure compliance with regulations and industry standards. It ensures that organizations implement controls, processes, and policies to adhere to relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards, safeguarding their operations and reputation.

  • Regulatory Awareness:

Staying vigilant about the ever-evolving landscape of regulations is paramount. Identifying the specific laws and industry standards that apply to the organization sets the foundation for compliance efforts.

  • Compliance Risk Assessment:

Conducting a compliance risk assessment is essential to identify potential areas where compliance risks may emerge. It involves recognizing compliance gaps, vulnerabilities, and potential areas of non-compliance.

  • Comprehensive Policies and Procedures:

Developing and implementing comprehensive policies and procedures is critical. These documents serve as blueprints for employees, guiding them on how to operate in compliance with legal requirements and industry best practices.

  • Internal Controls Framework:

A robust internal controls framework is integral to compliance. Internal controls are the measures and procedures put in place to manage risks, prevent fraud, and ensure the accuracy of financial reporting. These controls encompass various aspects, including access control, data protection, and financial transactions.

compliance frameworks -controls linked and compliance status

  • Training and Awareness:

Ensuring that the workforce is well-informed is key to compliance. Training programs and awareness campaigns help employees understand their roles and responsibilities in maintaining compliance and adhering to internal control protocols.

  • Monitoring, Auditing, Documentation and Reporting:

Regular monitoring and auditing are essential for maintaining compliance and internal controls. This involves continuous review of operations, data, and processes to detect and address any deviations from compliance standards. Thorough documentation provides a comprehensive record of compliance actions and internal control measures.

How GRC benefits a company

GRC ensures that companies stay up-to-date with regulatory and internal standards mandates, reducing the likelihood of legal issues, fines, and reputational damage. Compliance is not merely about following the law; it’s about operating with integrity might seem overly complicated and a business may be inclined to disregard it. However, it can provide many benefits, including the following:

  • Better Governance and Standardized Best Practices:

At the heart of the GRC framework is governance. It helps organizations establish a well-defined structure of policies, processes, and controls that guide decision-making and ensure alignment with strategic goals. This enhanced governance fosters transparency, accountability, and ethical practices within the organization.

GRC standardizes best practices across the organization, ensuring that everyone adheres to procedures that prioritize both integrity and security. This uniformity fosters efficiency, consistency, and quality in business operations.

  • Breaking Down Silos:

One of the inherent challenges in many organizations is the presence of silos, where departments or teams work independently, often leading to inefficiencies and misalignment. GRC’s cross-functional approach breaks down these silos by promoting a company-wide perspective on governance, risk management, and compliance. It encourages collaboration and communication between teams, fostering a more integrated and efficient work environment.

  • Reduce Data Silos with a Holistic GRC Strategy:

Shared data and strategy among your IT, legal, finance and marketing teams can facilitate visibility and cross-functional collaboration within your organization. When data is siloed, it can lead to the incorrect interpretation of the truth and potential risk and create duplication of effort. Shared data makes it easier for leaders to identify dependencies and streamline oversight.

  • Risk Mitigation:

In the business landscape, risks are ever-present. GRC equips your company with the tools to systematically identify, assess, and mitigate these risks. This proactive risk management approach helps safeguard your assets, reputation, and operational continuity. By addressing risks from a unified standpoint, you can effectively reduce potential vulnerabilities.

  • Regulatory Compliance:

As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, ensuring compliance with these mandates becomes increasingly critical. GRC not only helps companies stay up-to-date with regulatory changes but also fosters an environment where regulatory knowledge is shared across the organization, reducing compliance-related silos. This proactive compliance approach reduces the risk of legal consequences and enhances overall business integrity.

  • Standardized Best Practices:

GRC promotes the adoption of standardized best practices, ensuring that everyone within the organization adheres to procedures prioritizing both integrity and security. Standardization reduces the variability in processes across departments, streamlining operations and facilitating smoother collaboration.

  • Informed Decision-Making:

GRC collects and analyzes data related to governance, risk, and compliance, providing valuable insights. These insights empower leadership to make informed, data-driven decisions that take into account the entire organizational landscape, transcending departmental boundaries.

  • Strategic Support for Performance and ROI:

Efficient GRC practices can lead to a significant reduction in the costs associated with resolving internal and external risks. By aligning strategies across various functions and teams, GRC enhances decision-making, ultimately resulting in better financial results and improved Return on Investment (ROI).

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The Challenges of GRC

Despite GRC’s advantages, there are a few hurdles to overcome. A company may face the following challenges:

  • Manual processes waste time:

In the world of artificial intelligence and automation, some GRC processes are manual. When there is a lack of automation, the process can become inefficient, human error can occur, and documentation can be hard to find. Additionally, manual processes limit the organization’s ability to monitor and collect data transparently. 

  • Lack of direction:

Implementing a robust Governance, Risk, and Compliance program is difficult, and problems often arise when vision and direction are lacking. The success of a GRC solution depends on the leadership of the organization. 

  • Slow process:

It won’t happen overnight. Investing in GRC technology is worth the effort, but you must be patient and take your time, as you cannot rush the process. In the process of speeding up, an increase in complexity will negatively affect the quality of the implementation.

  • Inadequate capacity:

Inadequate server capacity can result in failed implementation or significantly reduce a solution’s performance. The number of companies that have attempted to import a new technology only to find that their server capacity is insufficient has been considerable.

Fundamental GRC Program Management Best Practices

To wrap up, let’s look at some general best practices for planning GRC strategies. 

GRC program management best practices

  • Embrace an Iterative Approach:

Recognize that achieving a perfect GRC solution on the first attempt is challenging due to the complexity and numerous stakeholders involved. Be prepared to revisit and revise aspects of your strategy regularly, especially given the dynamic nature of risk and compliance management, which necessitates continuous monitoring and adjustments.

  • Foster Collaborative Teamwork:

Form a diverse project team for GRC implementation, representing various essential roles within your organization, from senior to junior levels. This diversity ensures that decisions are comprehensive and inclusive. It also facilitates efficient communication among team members and prevents redundant efforts, a key objective when introducing GRC.

  • Prioritize Effective Communication:

Establish clear and open communication channels across the organization to avoid misunderstandings about the purpose and impact of GRC implementation. This is particularly crucial in areas where workflows will be directly affected and where staff changes might occur due to streamlined processes. Effective internal communication ensures that GRC is viewed as a positive step forward rather than a potential problem.

  • Put Policies into Action:

View policies as more than just a checklist of tasks. Policies serve as guidelines for managing and handling data within the organization. Transform these policies into actionable practices and consistently monitor and periodically review them to maintain their relevance and effectiveness in safeguarding your organization.

  • Allocate Adequate Resources:

Avoid the misconception that a GRC solution can be implemented without substantial financial and staffing resources. Ensure that the necessary resources are available and have a clear plan for their proper utilization from the outset to effectively manage GRC.

Streamline your GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance) management effortlessly with VComply

VComply automates every step of the process, from crafting policies to handling risk and overseeing all compliance programs. By embracing automation, you can save valuable time and resources while ensuring that your organization operates smoothly within the bounds of regulatory requirements and best practices. VComply simplifies the complex world of GRC, making it accessible and efficient for your business.

It’s time to say goodbye to old-fashioned programs. 

Discover what makes VComply a top G2 high performer in the GRC platform category. Book your demo now and explore its robust capabilities.