Table of Contents

Indepth guide to GRC tool


Governance, risk, and compliance, or GRC, is a systematic framework that helps you align your business goals, manage and mitigate risks, establish governance in your work process and stay on top of your compliance. But implementing a GRC program across an enterprise-level organization with uniformity is no easy job. That’s where a GRC tool comes in handy. An intuitive GRC tool can help in optimal decision-making, encourage team collaboration, eliminate fragmentation and establish a solid GRC program across your organization. If you’re ready to implement a GRC tool or still toying with the idea, this article will help you with all the necessary resources!

When to implement the GRC tool

A GRC tool can help you streamline compliance processes and enable you to establish a strong governance, risk, and compliance management framework across the organization. A GRC tool is usually a cloud-based solution and helps you peek at your organization’s risk profile, analyze the gaps for corrective action plans, and monitor compliance platform and governance. It also helps introduce automation for various processes to increase efficiency, reduce complexity, and eliminate the risks of paying huge penalties for nonadherence to guidelines.

A GRC platform serves as a single source of truth for your organization, where you can get status updates, view action plans, and have visibility on the audit trail. It encourages a unified workspace where you collaborate with your teams. A GRC tool also offers flexibility — it’s easy to use, and the intuitive workflows align with your business processes.

The Governance Institute of Australia 2020 Risk Management Survey mentioned that in their survey, 393 respondents considered regulatory and legislative changes to be one of the top five risks for them in the next five years. Some of these risks are associated with damage to brand reputation, regulatory and legislative changes, and cybercrime.

Regulatory and legislative changes and staff conduct were reported to be the most efficiently managed risk issues. As a result, talent management, disruption/inadequate innovation, environmental risks, and economic shock pose the most significant risk.

The survey ultimately showed a substantial value for governance and risk professionals. Efforts are being made to focus on risk management and the tools and strategies used. If you are anticipating such risks for your organization and if you are still using spreadsheets for managing compliance programs, risk assessment, compliant audits, tracking incidents, and establishing a healthy government program in your organization, then an effective GRC tool like VComply can help you launch your GRC program under 30 minutes!

Top 4 benefits of a GRC tool

There are several benefits of having an intuitive GRC tool in your organization. However, the top benefits include:

  • A GRC platform gives you better visibility across your organization’s governance, risk, and compliance portfolio.
  • A GRC tool can serve as a single source of truth. You can get status updates, compliance evidence, audit trails, and action plans all on a single platform.
  • A GRC tool encourages collaboration between teams. If you think your teams are working in silos, implementing a GRC tool can help your organization works as a unified team. For example, VComply lets you effectively communicate between teams across locations, thus bringing transparency and accountability on board.
  • GRC tools are flexible, so you need not wait for your IT team to configure workflows or setup compliance control.

How to implement a GRC tool

Now that you are ready to implement your first GRC tool let’s understand how you should implement it.

Revisit your GRC framework

If you already have a GRC framework, we strongly recommend you revisit your GRC frameworks and identify the gaps. See how much you can fill those gaps with technology. Review your governance, risk, and compliance programs across the organization and see how you can streamline them. Understanding your GRC framework can help you pick the right GRC tool and redefine your GRC program.

Pick the GRC tool

To ensure your GRC program is running perfectly, choose the right GRC tool. While cloud-based GRC tools are most popular now, there are tons of cloud-based GRC tools. Asking your GRC tool vendor the right questions can help you make an informed decision. Pick a solution that has good functionality, is easy to use, offers all the features you need, is easy to implement, and has competitive pricing. Know the top 10 GRC tools.

Project planning

Once you have determined the GRC tool you want to implement, work on a detailed implementation plan. This usually includes a project manager appointed by the tool vendor who works with you to understand the business policies and processes that are in place and identifies the existing gaps. Based on your requirements, the project manager will suggest the plan that will be best suited for your business needs. A demo and a project timeline usually follow this.

Implement and monitor

Once your plan is ready, it’s time for the actual implementation. If you’re going for a cloud-based automated GRC tool like VComply, your implementation can be completed within 30 minutes. Implementation will include management of policy documents, IT risk management, compliance management, operational risk management, and setting the company-wide governance plan. But remember, implementation alone will not help in the acceptance of the tool. Once the tool is implemented, spread awareness among the employees, offer training, and conduct workshops for better adoption. However, implementing a GRC program is not a one-time activity. Your GRC program needs to be tracked and monitored to ensure it is followed closely and adhered to by all the departments. Externally, you must ensure your GRC program is updated based on the policy updates and changes in the regulatory requirements.

How to create a business case for GRC

While each business is unique, you must do thorough research and communicate the facts to the decision-makers while presenting a business case for GRC. Here’s a step-by-step instruction to help you get started.

Look into your current approach and identify gaps

To begin your business case, look into your existing system. Create an outline of the existing system – what it involves, how the workflow looks like, who all are involved etc. Next, identify the gaps and present them in your business case. Emphasis on the consequences that can happen or have happened in the past due to the gaps. Were there any examples of tangible outcomes? Highlight them in your note.

Account the cost

Consider the costs involved in your present GRC program versus the cost for the proposed GRC platform. Instead of taking a siloed approach, look into it as an overall cost across the organization. Some of the costs to take into account are:

  • Employee costs
    Consider the direct costs involved in managing and running the current GRC program. How many employees are needed to manage the program? Highlight if this affects the efficiency. For example, it takes seven days every month for the Compliance Manager to chase the compliance owners to update their logs/control and actions and then spend two more days gathering the data and creating a monthly compliance report. While the decision-makers in the company are happy with the compliance report, they might not be aware of how much time and resources they spend on deriving those reports. Highlighting them makes sense in presenting your business case for the new GRC tool.
  • Technology costs
    Take into account all the IT costs the company is incurring while estimating the technology costs. For example, it will include subscription costs, software, implementation, maintenance, and support. Also, consider other associated costs like how much time your employees are spending on the GRC tool if there are any associated outsourcing costs, costs for the consultants, and so on.
  • Costs due to operational inefficiencies
    While accounting for costs, consider all costs associated with operational inefficiencies. For example, you can look into the past year for any events that have impacted business downtime. This can be attrition of key employees, fraud, communication system downtime, regulatory fines, etc. Also, look for events of near misses. These are also valid use cases to include in your business case as it implies lags in your existing system. If not taken action from the past event through a root cause analysis, it can impact your business significantly in the future.

Presenting your business case

Irrespective of what GRC tool you are proposing, your business case should highlight the current solution and its key problems, how it impacts the business, and how the newly proposed solution can help you improve the scenario. Before this, know the difference between GRC and IRM.

Factors to be considered while selecting a GRC platform

The three main components of a GRC platform are governance, risk, and compliance. Governance: The Governance module integration enables you to ensure that all the administrative support measures are in place that is in sync with your GRC strategy and overall business goals.

Risk: The Risk module of the GRC tool identifies risks and gaps and addresses them promptly to mitigate the risk impact.

Compliance: The Compliance module ensures that the company follows all the compliance guidelines.

General consideration

Cost: Even if it sounds cliche, you need to consider and compare costs for the GRC tool. Ideally, the tool you choose should be able to provide maximum benefits and protection for the best cost. A good way to go about it is to calculate the total cost of ownership and then calculate its return on investment.

Product scope: While threats and vulnerabilities are constantly changing, the regulatory landscape is changing too. So, pick a GRC tool that can cater to an extended scope in the future. Additionally, if you have growth plans and foray into new markets in the coming days, your GRC tool should be able to support it. So you must thoroughly examine the product scope to ensure a long-term view of the product. Ask your GRC vendor about the product roadmap, and they envision the growth of the tool for the future.

Interface: Considering your entire company population will use the GRC platform, choose a tool with an easy-to-use interface with simple drag-and-drop features. The interface should be easy to integrate with the enterprise’s existing application. For example, integration of the GRC tool with a configuration management database or an identity management system. This interface integration feature will help simplify the analysis, remediation, and easy reporting.

Support: When you think about support, think about updates, maintenance, customization, etc., that your GRC tool should be able to offer support with. For example, your GRC tool should support customization as needed in your organization. This can be fixing bugs or incorporating new features. Imagine your organization needs to adhere to Payment Card Industry regulations; your GRC vendor should be able to update the tool with the new versions of the regulation whenever it gets released.

Reputation: Look for GRC tool vendors already been in the industry for some time and have earned reputations. Look at third-party review sites to understand the reviews they gather from other clients. For example, VComply has a rating of 4.6/5 on G2. This is what one of the happy customers says: “VComply has proven to be a very effective tool to track compliance activities. It provides a way to automate your compliance program and assign tasks to individuals, along with reminders and the ability to upload supporting documentation. The customer service is the best I’ve experienced from a software company. They continue to evolve the software and regularly roll out updates and new features.” — Tanya P, Director of Compliance, Security and Strategic Projects.

Partnerships: Your GRC tool vendor is not just a one-time supplier but should be entering into a strategic partnership with you and collaborating with you throughout your GRC journey.

Security: GRC platforms have much critical information stored, and any data breach can threaten the organization. From exploiting vulnerabilities, and damage to brand reputation to financial losses and legal liabilities can be huge for organizations. So pick a GRC tool that has a strong security system in place. Role-based access rights and data encryption are features you should look for in a GRC tool.

Scalability: Your organization is growing, as is the complexity of information and data. Invest in a GRC platform that is easy to integrate with your growing business. For example, if you foray into a new market or add a new line of business, you can extend the GRC tool for the new programs and need not invest in another GRC tool!

Functional requirement

Workflow: It needs to have a good workflow engine to get the most out of your GRC platform. Since a large team of employees will use the tool across departments, the tool needs to have a workflow system to manage and distribute work and keep track of it. So ensure you invest in a GRC tool that has developed a good workflow system.

Document management: GRC platforms need to manage a lot of critical and sensitive documentation. Along with policies, procedures, and standards, the GRC tool also is the storehouse for internal control documents, standards, and procedures. So choose a GRC tool that has a strong document management system.

Usability: No matter how intuitive your GRC tool is, no one in the team will use it if it’s too complex. Since employees will use the tool at different levels across the organization, you must ensure that everyone is comfortable using it. The good idea is to let your key team members evaluate the tool. Let them evaluate the tool on the following parameters – ease of learning, ease of remembering, satisfaction, understandability, and task efficiency.

Customization: Every organization is unique, and so are its GRC requirements. A GRC platform should be able to cater to the complete needs of the organization. So choose a GRC tool that has complete customization capability.

Checklist for general consideration

Cost Is it cost-effective? Yes/No
Product Scope Does it have future product scope? Yes/No
Interface Does it have an easy-to-use interface? Yes/No
Reputation Is the vendor reputed? Yes/No
Partnership Can I enter into a strategic partnership with the vendor? Yes/No
Security Does the vendor has good security measures in place? Yes/No
Scalability Is the tool ready for future scalability? Yes/No

Checklist for functional consideration

Workflow Does the tool have a good workflow? Yes/No
Document management Can I do document management in the tool? Yes/No
Usability Will my team find it easy to use the tool? Yes/No
Customization Does the tool support customization? Yes/No

ROI of implementing GRC

Implementing a strong GRC program is no longer good but a must-have for companies globally. While risk and compliance professionals are strong advocators of implementing a GRC platform, the decision-makers need to weigh the return on investment of implementing a GRC system in the organization. To determine the ROI of implementing a GRC program in your organization, you need to consider both the qualitative and quantitative benefits of having a GRC tool. Here is a quick guide on determining tangible and intangible benefits, including a quantifiable ROI.

The tangible and intangible benefits of having a GRC program

Some of the tangible benefits of having a GRC program are savings through operational efficiencies, staff costs, and long-term savings by IT cost reductions ( saying no to legacy tools). However, quantifying these benefits can be difficult. However, you may attempt to do so by

  • Identifying the existing priority risk, compliance, and governance use cases that will be supported by implementing a new GRC tool.
  • Note down the current activities performed at present for each of the use cases.
  • Note down the people involved with these activities and how much time and effort they spend to accomplish them.

Tangible benefits

  • Better transparency
  • Integrated processes and platform
  • Ability to proactively manage risk
  • Greater reporting and data integrity
  • Minimized legacy technology expenses
  • Enhanced decision-making GRC convergence

Intangible benefits

  • Efficient risk and control assessment activities
  • Improved traceability of transactions
  • Better reporting
  • Better data integrity
  • Minimized maintenance cost for legacy technology

Take into consideration the future costs and benefits While calculating the ROI, consider the future costs and benefits as well. For example, what will be the implementation costs for the GRC program? Think of the licensing, internal project, and associated implementation costs. Document the future activities that you will mostly be performing for each GRC-enabled use case. This includes identifying all the participants involved in future procedures and the overall activities that will be performed. Also, you need to include the annual maintenance costs, infrastructure costs, support costs, etc. Calculate the total effort and spending you will be incurred for all future activities.

Calculating ROI: Once you analyze your current and future state, it’s time to calculate the expected differential in both the fixed and variable costs. Using the expected differential estimates, you may establish different metrics for key GRC activities.

Metrics to consider: A few of the metrics that you may want to consider are-

  • Technology: Reduced costs by removing isolated tools and replacing them with an integrated GRC tool
  • Process: Implementation of GRC can reduce risks related to processes.
  • People: A wholesome GRC tool can remove manual intervention and free up the workforce to focus on something else.
  • Removing licensing costs by embracing a cloud-based GRC tool

ROI throughout the GRC lifecycle

A successful GRC transformation depends on the six components throughout the GRC lifecycle. So you need to consider the individual ROI. The six stages include

  • Vision and strategy: At this stage, you are establishing your GRC business case. This may include considering the investments involved along with the benefits target. You will define and align ROI measures and metrics with your main strategies.
  • Convergence and foundational elements: An important metric to consider at this stage are identifying efficiencies gained via process and taxonomy alignment.
  • Program management: Important metrics to consider at this stage are actual project performance vs. targets, different research variances, and reporting requirements.
  • People and change: Education and employee awareness are important metrics to consider at this stage.
  • Technology enablement: In this stage, the ROI consideration can be implementation and testing metrics.
  • Vendor selection: The different ROI consideration in this stage includes vendor performance metrics, vendor management pre and during the implementation, etc.

Remember, a strong business case is not enough. You also need to calculate the ROI of implementing a GRC tool to help the executive team to make an informed decision. Need help in implementing your first GRC tool? Try VComply that’s used by most Agile teams out there! The tool is simple, engaging, and available on Cloud. Simplify your GRC needs with this one integrated tool. Book a live demo today.