In modern IT environments, compliance and security are highly reliant upon one another, and they share a common goal: responsibility for keeping an organization’s data, users, resources, and intellectual property safe and usable. Some enterprises compartmentalize governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) as a separate function that sits apart from workflows and business processes. This thinking prevents the true integration of GRC principles into all aspects of how IT environments operate, which reduces visibility into a company's security and compliance posture. Innovative enterprises understand that effective compliance and security are tightly coupled, and why it’s critical to use a solution that enables rapid, agile workflow, but does so with GRC embedded into it.
GRC is typically codified as a collection of controls that are applied broadly across the IT landscape, and are designed to ensure that organizations manage their information security risks appropriately. GRC identifies gaps in security controls and provides a framework for prioritizing mitigation and remediation activities. Adhering to internal, industry, and/or governmental frameworks, GRC measures the effectiveness of security controls against relevant security requirements. It’s basically looking for proof that organizations do what they say they do, and then validates that.
Risk and Security Management Protect Company Assets
Requirements for governance and compliance come in many forms, starting with an organization’s internal information security policies. These policies should align with the company's business objectives and reflect its specific infrastructure and services. Compliance with internal security policy can be assessed through internal security reviews and any discovered exceptions should be appropriately managed.
In addition to security requirements defined by internal security policy, enterprises must abide by compliance frameworks established by industry and governmental groups. There is a tacit, although sometimes explicit, understanding that operating in accord with these guidelines is mandatory to conduct business within a specified region or market. These security requirements typically come in the form of audits and assessments performed by external regulatory groups. Some companies elect to be audited in order to demonstrate best-in-class business and security practices; these include things like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. For some companies, these can be competitive differentiators, as they demonstrate a focus and commitment to GRC principles.
The most effective approach to governance and compliance is to align GRC guidelines within an organization’s processes and workflow. This creates consistency and establishes a behavioral mindset for anyone touching processes (which is pretty much everyone in the organization). This type of solution must be able to collect data from across workloads and data sources which may be used for identification, direction, and reduction of risk. Process Director employs both predictive modeling (which may help a company avoid being out of compliance), and automated reporting and collection that provide insights to how closely processes are adhering to GRC requirements.
In breaking down the value of BPM and workflow for GRC, consider the impact of the following on how teams can improve efficiency and their overall security posture:
When an organization develops a framework for GRC, they still have to implement and manage it across disparate groups. If GRC requires anything, it’s consistency. Without it, there’s no way of knowing how well or poorly the company is adhering to its principles. By implementing GRC-based requirements into workflows and processes, teams have immediate visibility to identify where they are out of compliance. If they are using a BPM platform like Process Director, which enables non-programmers to create and modify processes, then issues can be addressed and remediated quickly. BPM is like a continuous insight engine for GRC, and that gives organizations the ability to be consistent in how they approach the work of risk management and compliance.
Companies get stuck if they have to evaluate every activity that deviates from normalized behavior. Because BPM can help optimize the continuity and consistency of GRC behavior, this becomes a critical way for companies to ensure governance and compliance adherence. Some will choose to do it manually, but this is a time killer and can distract process actors from focusing on outcomes while they fix problems that don’t add value. Effective BPM solutions automate the GRC framework which enables managers to focus on process improvement rather than fixing process shortcomings. They can be set up to deliver alerts that pinpoint where GRC-related issues exist and help managers rapidly address them.
With GRC, teams get a broad picture of the organization and its processes -- this includes how data, people, and resources are accessing, being accessed, and transacting among internal and external stakeholders. Because BPM can be set up to apply specific GRC-influenced requirements to various stages of processes, managers have access and control to change processes, if needed. But perhaps more importantly, the deep visibility enables actors to understand where GRC issues are common. This may indicate a vulnerability within internal systems, or it could mean there are teams or data sources that are not in compliance.
With GRC visibility and automation provided by a BPM solution, teams can dramatically reduce the manual work needed to identify issues and manage change. They also become aware of which systems, applications, and data sources might be regularly out of compliance. The attention required to fix these issues is lowered significantly because fewer people are needed to manage GRC, there is less of a trail to unravel to identify the source of problems, and insights gathered over time can help managers make technology purchasing decisions and allocate expenditures that are ultimately more advantageous (and cost effective) for their GRC needs.
When objectives and missions are aligned through a workflow solution, the actual principles by which the business operates can become tightly integrated into the fabric of how the company operates. This is important because it essentially codifies those things that will reduce risk and maintain a healthy level of governance within the business activities of the company.
GRC is intended to give companies better control over their data and intellectual property, but there are no shortcuts to managing it effectively. It is a continuous process, but one that BPM and workflow are optimized to manage.