Risk & Strategy
Kezia Farnham Image
Kezia Farnham
Senior Manager

How can agile operations benefit your GRC strategy?

June 30, 2021
0 min read
Person considers how to take an agile approach in their GRC strategy

In the context of governance, risk and compliance (GRC), agile operations can make the difference between success and failure. Today's globalized businesses face an ever-evolving and rapidly growing panoply of risks; taking an agile approach is essential if you want to improve the chances of tackling these challenges.

The Changing Face of GRC

Governance, risk and compliance have evolved hugely over the last couple of decades. As the regulatory landscape has changed ' and as regulators have flexed their muscles on issues from GDPR to fraud ' organizations have had to up their game on GRC.

Digitalization and globalization have amplified these risks. Cyberattacks, geopolitical upheaval, and threats to supply chains make themselves felt, and new entrants routinely disrupt the competitive landscape. And, of course, traditional risks haven't disappeared ' the chief risk officer needs an eye to both existing and emerging threats.

As a result, today's definition of GRC and the aspects that fall under its remit are broader than ever. An organization's GRC strategy must be prepared for risks that are unprecedented in scope and scale.

As risks evolve, GRC strategies need to change in tandem:

  • From siloed efforts to a modern approach that is both agile and integrated within all business operations
  • From an operational issue to a board-level concern
  • From department-specific applications to business-wide solutions

A modern GRC approach needs to give equal weight to each element, with governance prioritized alongside risk management and compliance. And it needs to be nimble enough to respond to future requirements ' which is where agile operations come in.

How Agile Operations Advances Your GRC Strategy

If you adopt agile GRC, what benefits can you expect to see?

1) Board and Leadership Teams Empowered to Make Data-Driven Decisions

Digitalizing the way you capture and communicate risk data will transform the integrity of the data. The board has the right information at the right time, fast-tracking your ability to implement key GRC actions. Risk is set in the context of your wider business, making it relevant, clear and actionable.

2) Faster Responses to the Changing Risk Landscape

A 360-degree view of governance, risk and compliance across all your business entities gives you full oversight. It enables you to adapt your approach quickly if needed ' vital in today's landscape of rapidly evolving threats. Intelligent, agile GRC can be accelerated or slowed as needed and at a granular level ' allowing you to flex your approach in response to changing priorities or pressures.

3) Smoother Compliance and Governance Processes

The time wasted via a manual approach to governance and compliance is significant. Not only are they inefficient, but compliance processes reliant on manual intervention increase the risk of errors and omissions. Using technology to support your GRC process vastly reduces this risk and saves time and money by automatically capturing the data you need.

4) Better Preparation for New Regulations and Accountabilities

Directors and business leaders are more accountable than ever for compliance and governance, and transparency is prized as never before. When it comes to GRC, an agile operations strategy means that new regulatory and legislative requirements can be rapidly integrated into your systems, ensuring your obligations never catch you out.

How to Integrate Agile GRC Across Your Organization

Agility is a vital component of GRC today. If your organization wants to deflect the risks it faces, it needs to be ready to pivot instantly, adapting its approach to meet whatever challenges come. Agile GRC demands that today's forward-looking organizations:

  • Consistently challenge siloed frameworks and seek improvement.

It's essential to continuously familiarize oneself with all operations frameworks that touch on GRC. Identify whether these processes align. Ask tough questions. And finally, access new methods for improved alignment, effectiveness and competence. Better alignment empowers agility.

  • Speak the same language.

Ensure you share the same terminology across departments and within the boardroom. Differing meanings for terms are a recipe for confusion, bottlenecks, increased risk and can hinder the adoption of GRC programs.

Inconsistent definitions and terms slow down the decision-making process for boards as they grapple with understanding jargon. It can produce operational mistakes as communication becomes misrepresented across teams. Finally, it creates a challenging environment for successfully introducing and adopting GRC technology.

Introducing shared company-wide terminology is an excellent first step for every board and chief risk officer seeking agile GRC.

  • Take a holistic, data-driven view.

Previously, GRC efforts have been hampered by department or team-led programs whereby:

1) Siloed approaches fail to share best practice

2) Data is inconsistent and hard to compare

3) Cross-functional efficiencies and synergies aren't captured

But companies are now seeing success by tackling these issues. They are now prioritizing capturing, centralizing and visualizing data for an agile GRC approach.

  • Harness technology to support robust GRC strategies.

A robust GRC platform gives your operational teams the data they need to prioritize and implement governance, risk and compliance actions.

Some GRC platforms utilize AI to alert operational teams, the CRO and boards of risk. Additionally, these AI-driven platforms capture data, automate repetitive tasks and centralize the GRC approach. This leads to increased data accuracy, efficiency and agility.

When choosing a platform, ensure it will grow with your organization. We recommend selecting technology that comes out-of-the-box for fast and cost-effect implementation while also offering customizations and AI that can be tailored to your changing needs.

  • Lead from the top.

The board plays a leading role in driving GRC success, but getting board-level buy-in and focus for GRC initiatives has historically been a challenge ' in part because GRC activities have traditionally been tactical and siloed.

The right technology allows you to unify GRC efforts across departments, telling a story that all directors can get behind. Therefore, a good GRC platform isn't only operationally helpful but invaluable to the board in delivering usable management information and equipping you to make data-driven decisions.

  • Make GRC part of a broader ethical culture.

A truly integrated approach to governance, risk and compliance requires an organization that gravitates by default to integrity. Business leaders need to recognize the centrality of your people to your efforts here. A business that pays lip service to ethics will not realize the benefits of an agile GRC strategy.

  • Take a proportionate approach.

The processes, time, and resources provided to support GRC in different departments and entities should be commensurate with the risks they face and their role in your organization.

Being nimble in your approach to GRC means you can ramp up or ease off your efforts instantly, as required. Using reliable data gleaned from company-wide systems enables you to make these decisions confidently.

  • Optimize digitalization.

Agile operations digitalize risk management and compliance to give your board and organization the best chance of fighting off threats. Move from spreadsheets and discrete logs to a business-wide system. The right digital system will capture data, facilitate insight and enable quick comparisons. Digitalization can enable your board to make decisions that are faster and better-informed.


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