Automation in GRC – A Comprehensive Guide

Automation in GRC

Organizations face many challenges today, including, the growing number of regulations, tightening competition, ever-decreasing budgets, expanding security risks, and the explosion of technology. Handling these multi-dimensional challenges requires a concerted approach that includes well-developed policies and streamlined processes backed by regular audits. This led to the emergence of a separate operational strategy called Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC).

In this guide, we will discuss GRC in detail and why you need automation for it.

What is GRC?

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is an operational strategy that enables organizations to predict and mitigate enterprise risks while meeting the compliance requirements of different mandatory legislation and voluntary frameworks. More importantly, it helps businesses to align their IT and business goals while managing risks and compliance.

GRC encompasses the people, processes, and tools to provide stability, remove uncertainties, and achieve positive business outcomes. It also reduces financial and reputational losses of non-compliance and enhances trust in the organization’s commitment to preserving security and privacy.

Let’s now break down the three components to better understand their importance for an organization.


Governance is the set of policies and processes that an organization implements to achieve its business goals. It acts as a framework where every stakeholder in an organization understands his or her roles and responsibilities. In this sense, governance is the foundation that provides support and guidance for organizations to tackle their challenges and reach their goals.

Governance encompasses the following:

  • Strategic direction from the board of directors and CXO suite.
  • Policies and procedures that guide the daily operations.
  • Ethics and integrity to build a positive culture.
  • Accountability and transparency.
  • Performance monitoring and ensuring they meet the specified goals.
  • Stakeholder engagement, where every entity understands its roles and responsibilities.


Businesses face financial, operational, security, and strategic risks. Risk management involves identifying these risks and mitigating them before they impact the organization to reduce the associated losses. It even requires a well-developed incident management plan that lays down the guidelines that must be followed when an event occurs.

Risk encompasses the following:

  • Identifying the likely risks that can impact an organization.
  • Understanding the potential impact of each risk.
  • Developing strategies to mitigate the risks.
  • Continuously monitoring the evolving changes and their associated risks.
  • Generating extensive reports.
  • Defining the risk tolerance levels.
  • Planning and preparing for unexpected events.


Compliance is the process of adhering to the regulations and laws. It includes mandatory legislation, voluntary frameworks, industry standards, and best practices. Meeting these compliance requirements reduces financial losses due to non-compliance, builds trust in the company’s operations, boosts the organization’s security posture, and creates positive business outcomes.

Compliance encompasses the following:

  • Understand the mandatory legislation.
  • Deciding on compliance with voluntary standards and frameworks.
  • Generating relevant reports.
  • Auditing the processes to identify gaps.
  • Providing training for employees.
  • Taking corrective actions.

As you can see, each of these components is extensive, and combining them into a single strategy can make it overwhelming to follow. This is where automation helps.

Automation in GRC

Organizations are increasingly turning to automated platforms and processes to manage their GRC processes efficiently and effectively. It involves the use of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to automate administrative and repetitive tasks.

Here are some GRC processes that you can automate for improved results.

  • Track and analyze regulatory changes.
  • Identify and assess risks across the organization.
  • Assign priorities to risks to make the most of your resources.
  • Monitor compliance.
  • Reporting and documentation.
  • Planning and conducting audits.
  • Track employee acknowledgment of policies.
  • Integrating data from various sources to assess compliance.
  • Managing incidents like data breaches.
  • Creating, delivering, and tracking courses to employees on GRC.
  • Monitor and evaluate third-party risks.
  • Test business continuity and disaster recovery.
  • Automate anonymous channels for employees to report unethical behavior.

While the above is not a comprehensive list, it sure gives you an idea of the potential GRC areas you can automate. You can also extend and customize these ideas to suit your organization’s specific needs.

How to Implement Automation?

Every organization is different, and so are its goals and processes. Regardless of these variations, you can implement automation to improve your operational efficiency and resource utilization. The fundamental aspect is to select the right platform that will automate most of these processes for you.

However, choosing the right platform is not easy, and this is where the below suggestions can help you.

Step 1: Assesses the Current GRC Processes

As a first step, evaluate the existing GRC processes in your organization, and identify the potential risks and inefficiencies in them. This evaluation provides a good idea of what areas require automation, and how you can implement them.

Step 2: Define the Objectives and Scope

Once you identify the automation areas, the next step is to define the scope and objectives. If you have multiple areas or departments that require automation, it helps to implement them in phases based on their order of importance. Lay down the objectives for every automation and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure them.

Step 3: Pick the Automation Platform

Now that you know what aspects require automation, it’s time to pick a tool that implements them for you. Research the available GRC automation tools and evaluate them against your scope and objectives to narrow down your list. Next, check for features like scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness before identifying the best fit. Also, ensure that the selected tool fits into your existing tech stack and is user-friendly to avoid steep learning curves.

Pro tip: Narrow down your list to a few choices and do a trial run of each before picking the final one.

Step 4: Implement and Integrate With Your Tech Stack

After selecting the best tool, implement it within your organization. Integrate it with your existing processes and tools with the help of the tool’s technical support. Build a team for implementation, and make sure it includes representatives from the relevant departments like IT, legal, and security. Set a timeline for this implementation and assign clear responsibilities for employees to achieve this goal within the specified deadlines.

Step 5: Training Session

Work with the selected automation platform’s customer support team to arrange training sessions for your employees. Teach them to use the tool effectively and make sure their activities align with the defined automation goals. Offer ongoing support and training as needed to help your employees get the most out of the selected platform.

Step 6: Monitor and Evaluate

After implementing the automation platform and providing training for your employees, it’s time to monitor and evaluate the platform’s performance. Set clear processes and strategies for evaluation and ensure they align with the established KPIs. As a part of the evaluation process, identify areas for improvement, and implement the required remediation to increase the tool’s efficiency.

This last step is continuous, and you must always measure, monitor, evaluate, and refine to increase the business value of automation.

Though the above processes may seem easy, in reality, GRC automation has many challenges and considerations.

Challenges and Considerations

Like any process, GRC has its share of challenges. Understanding these challenges can help you find solutions to address them. Below are the key challenges that come with implementing automation in GRC.

Data Quality and Consistency

Automation relies heavily on quality and consistent data because incorrect data can lead to wrong assessments and flawed decisions. Since GRC is so dependent on data, organizations must take every possible step to ensure data integrity. More importantly, it must establish data governance practices to maintain the overall data quality.


Integration with existing systems is a key challenge of implementing automation. This problem becomes more complex and time-consuming if your tech stack has many custom applications. There can also be compatibility issues, and when you don’t handle these problems well, it can lead to data silos, security vulnerabilities, high costs, and operational inefficiencies.

Return on Investments

The initial cost of implementing GRC is high and it can take a few years to see the results of this automation. At the same time, you must continuously assess the ROI to ensure that you are on the right track to profitability. Moreover, plan maintenance and operations well to prevent unnecessary cost escalations.

Cybersecurity Risks

Automated processes also have the potential to introduce cybersecurity risks because they do not have human intervention. This is why it’s important to create additional cybersecurity checks and measures to prevent the hacking of these automated processes. More importantly, you must have a mechanism in place to prevent unauthorized users from accessing automation to gain into the system.

Change Management and Resistance

Another potential problem is resistance to change from your employees. When you implement new tools or change processes, it’s only natural to face resistance. You must provide appropriate training and upskilling to instill confidence in employees. Also, consider having open discussions to assuage the concerns and fears expressed by employees. Have an open mind, as some of these suggestions from team members may even be valid.


While introducing automation, keep an eye on data security and privacy, and ensure that you never deviate from compliance regulations. Though it may sound counterproductive, automation has the potential to create compliance gaps, so stay on top of them.

Vendor Dependence

When you implement an automated tool, you have a certain level of dependence on the third-party vendor offering the tool. Make sure you manage the associated risks and compliance. Also, continuously evaluate the security practices and stability of the vendor organization, and don’t hesitate to change vendors to safeguard your organization.

Thus, these are some challenges to consider while implementing automation in your GRC operations. Despite the above risks, more organizations are implementing automation because of the potential benefits it offers to your organization.

Benefits of Automation

Automating GRC processes can provide a ton of value for your organization. Here’s a look at some key benefits of automation.

  • Reduces time and effort, thereby enhancing the overall operational efficiency.
  • Minimizes human errors.
  • Proactively assesses, identifies, and prioritizes risks.
  • Ensures continuous compliance.
  • Creates real-time insights.
  • Generates relevant reports.
  • Increases transparency.
  • Empowers you to take quick action when regulations change.
  • Streamlines audit processes.
  • Creates an ethical organizational culture.

The above benefits are a big game changer for many organizations, and this is why many GRC processes are increasingly automated. However, the key to gaining these benefits is to choose the right GRC platform.

Best GRC Automation Platforms

Let’s now look at the best GRC automation platforms that enable your organization to leverage the above benefits

  1. Alyne from Mitratech:  A SaaS platform that provides continuous risk assessment and compliance. Its user-friendly interface and robust security features make it easy to customize for every need.
  2. Vanta: A trust management platform that automates compliance and manages risks to create a positive impression about your organization in the minds of stakeholders.
  3. Protecht Group: An easy-to-implement GRC platform that specializes in automating risk and compliance processes and enhancing the efficiency of your internal audits.
  4. CompliancyGroup: A GRC platform that specializes in complying with HIPAA regulations.
  5. Hyperproof: A cloud-based tool that helps manage risk and compliance programs. Its audit management feature is comprehensive while its intuitive dashboards provide the required insights.
  6. StandardFusion: An end-to-end GRC platform that provides visibility and enables collaboration to mitigate risks. Its six core solutions are configurable and scale well to meet your automation requirements.
  7. IBM OpenPages: Combined with the AI tool Watson, OpenPages is a powerful GRC automation platform for large enterprises. Despite being expensive, it can save thousands of dollars for organizations.
  8. MetricStream: A standard GRC automation platform that provides real-time insights into compliance processes and ensures your organization is well-equipped to handle known and unknown risks.
  9. SAP GRC: A modular GRC automation platform that provides the flexibility to automate the relevant risk and compliance processes.
  10. Corporater: An integrated GRC platform that eliminates data silos and empowers data-driven decision-making. Its many features create a culture of transparency and accountability.

Click here to read a detailed review of each of the above tools.

Each of these tools comes with different features, so make sure to understand and evaluate them before deciding on the best one for your GRC needs. While evaluating, consider the capabilities of your employees and alignment with your organization’s business goals.

Future of GRC Automation

The future of GRC automation is promising and challenging. As AI starts to take over mainstream operations, we can expect more legislation governing the use of AI and the associated data security and privacy. Simultaneously, advancements in AI and ML will continue to shape organizational processes, leading to greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This wider acceptance of AI is a double-edged sword because organizations will gain immensely provided they comply with the associated regulations.

Another aspect defining the future of GRC automation will be the evolving risk landscape. More cyberattackers today can access ransomware and malware tools that are being offered as a service on the Dark Web. As a result, there can be more attacks and greater pressure on organizations to step up their security and risk mitigation. Moreover, changing geopolitical scenarios can bring in more sophisticated cyberattackers, requiring more efforts from organizations to safeguard their assets and meet compliance.

Lastly, there will be a greater focus on customization and user experience, especially with the emergence of no-code solutions that offer drag-and-drop interfaces for customizing features and views. A closely related aspect is the need for training and awareness programs through online channels, given that remote work is here to stay.

The good news is that GRC platforms are also evolving to meet these changes. Some vendors are also providing regular updates to existing platforms to include new features.

These trends are expected to have a profound impact on the future of automation in the GRC space. Organizations must keep an eye out for these changing signs and must adapt their existing GRC processes and platforms to align with them.

Bottom Line

Overall, GRC is an operational strategy that enables organizations to manage the risks coming from different aspects while meeting the compliance standards mandated by many countries. Additionally, organizations also strive to comply with voluntary frameworks to build trust in the minds of stakeholders. However, GRC implementation is not easy because it can entail extensive resources.

To balance between resource utilization and GRC compliance, organizations turn to automation platforms that reduce the time and effort required.  Moreover, these GRC automation tools enable customization and increase efficiency, leading to heightened cost-effectiveness. However, to gain these benefits, organizations must choose the right platforms and navigate through the challenges that come with automating GRC processes.

In this guide, we looked at the different GRC components, what aspects can be automated, how to implement automation using advanced platforms, the benefits, and challenges of automation, and the best platforms to choose from. We ended with a glimpse into the future of automation. We hope this comprehensive guide helps you to make the right choices about GRC automation to leverage its benefits with the right tools.

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