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Governance, Risk, and Compliance before GRC

The idea of Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC), has been fundamentally integrated into the idea of how a business should be run for centuries. While it hadn’t been officially acknowledged as a solution with a name, it was in implementation on every level across every business. Any policy, government law, regulation, company code of conduct, and business risk fits into the umbrella of a GRC strategy even if it was never referred to as such. Well before the dawn of the digital age, bookkeeping, company rules, and calculating risks in business were standard needs to properly and efficiently scale an organization. As technologies and the size of the market grew, the need to have GRC as a tool in the marketplace was introduced in 2002 by Forrester, in the wake of multiple disasters that rocked the foundation of the world as we knew it.

After 2002, GRC became a consumable utility in the marketplace, giving businesses the ability to manage their business processes digitally; and for the time, this was sufficient to operate a business. There was less data to worry about, having modular tools allowed practitioners to see a specific section of their business at a time. But as regulatory requirements changed and the needs to operate businesses grew, the time needed to analyze data in GRC software grew with it. This trend has only caused frustration among cybersecurity professionals and practitioners working with GRC solutions as a means to scale and operate their security efforts.

What is GRC?

GRC is formally referenced as “a capability to reliably achieve objectives while addressing uncertainty and acting with integrity.” To practitioners in cybersecurity, GRC is used as a measurable tool for observing policies, regulations, foreseeable issues within an organization and procedures to manage that entity as a whole.


Governance is the process through with executive management directs and manages the enterprise at scale using a combination of hierarchy and policies. Corporate governance is designed to ensure that senior management has the necessary and most current information to effectively make decisions and inform company strategy. 

Risk Management

Risk Management is the process of quantifying, evaluating, and prioritizing potential risks to an organization based on their entire operation as a whole. Proper risk management practices require that an organization uses coordinated and fiscally responsible choices to utilize resources in a way that minimizes, monitors, and controls the potential consequences of events that can have negative consequences for a business.


Compliance is the rules of the market, government or industry in which the organization operates. This is beneficial to ensuring continuity between organizations in the same field and ensures a safe equal playing field for consumers and companies associated with an organization. In the case of cybersecurity, regulations are designed to ensure that consumers can operate with an expected degree of trust in the organization that their data is safe from theft. 

While these individual applications may have been sufficient to run a business in the past, it simply leaves too many gaps to supplement the operations of an organization in today’s landscape. The components that make up GRC do not communicate across each other and contain tools that act independently instead of in unison. 

Modern Times, Modern Solutions

Through our research, we’ve found countless GRC programs use buzzwords such as: ‘organization GRC’, ‘compliance GRC’ or ‘enterprise GRC’ but simply don’t aggregate data in a feasible and readable way. Charts in GRC tools are presented in complex, time-consuming metrics that need to be mapped and do not work across other GRC tools in unity. 

Additionally, legacy GRC tools do not operate interchangeably, limiting visibility across organization units meaning everything is segmented, further costing resources and increasing the likelihood of errors over time when using a GRC tool. These headaches often result in security teams using spreadsheets to measure risk rather than a GRC tool. 

For any business, large or small, running an information security initiative off a spreadsheet is a static, dated and flawed process. By adopting an integrated mindset and utilizing an integrated risk management solution, you can gain access to your organization's posture as a whole in a way that can align your teams to your business’ objectives.

One of the largest obstacles to using GRC in an efficient way in today’s marketplace is the fact it’s incredibly time-consuming and costly to any organization. Proving corporate compliance across frameworks in GRC can take several months, sometimes upwards of a year to conduct a full series of assessments. Not only that, but it takes an entirely new workflow to cross-reference GRC efforts, resulting in additional time, labor, and resources.

Why IRM Is The Future

While the methodologies of these practices have rapidly changed in the past two decades, the need for more cohesive and unified solutions have also grown in the form of integrated risk management (IRM). IRM is a mindset to manage and operate your organization’s cybersecurity program as a whole, not only addressing the errors of GRC but vastly improving on them in a way that can align with any organization today. On a fundamental level, communicability, flexibility, and execution make up the philosophy of IRM, and by using an IRM strategy, you can gain visibility to your organization through one well-rounded solution instead of a suite hosted full of tools.

Using IRM has numerous benefits compared to the workflows and methodologies of GRC, one of the strongest being cohesiveness and visibility across your entire business, instead of just one segmented area. Good IRM platforms enable information security leaders and teams to integrate GRC activities into a central location instead of across modules. This can enable an organization to see its posture as a whole and make well-informed decisions based on where your company has the most risk or liability in the case of a disaster, as well as ensuring your organization can reliably achieve compliance and can do so in a cost-effective way. 

CyberStrong as an IRM Strategy Solution

If your security team has been considering using a GRC software tool or is looking for a better way to optimize and integrate its cybersecurity efforts past GRC capabilities, make the shift to integrated risk management with CyberStrong. CyberStrong has the ability to show your organization’s cybersecurity posture as a whole, to reduce risk and translate in a comprehensive way; processing and automating much of the menial tasks on the backend so your security team can focus on filling in gaps in your organization’s security initiatives. Fully integrated solutions work in real-time for today’s landscape, not GRC tool suites. If you’re curious how CyberStrong can help accelerate your organization’s security efforts, give us a call at 1-800 NIST CSF or visit our website, here.

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