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A Beginner’s Guide To IT Governance, Risk And Compliance

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There’s hardly anyone who does not know The Avengers – the saviors of Earth – including Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow and other awesome superheroes. Together they work for S.H.I.E.L.D (or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) agency to protect civilians from every threat. Surely, the agency has the world’s best security given the sensitive data they work with – think of the formula of Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum or the working of the Pym Particle!

However, despite their awesomeness, their IT security has some gaps. Remember when Ultron hacked the entire Internet and there was nothing the world’s best superheroes could do? That is precisely why organizations need to be aware of IT GRC – no, that’s not a Marvel villain!

It stands for IT Governance, Risk and Compliance which is needed to improve enterprise security and manage critical IT resources effectively and efficiently.

Read on – because you can’t always count on The Avengers!
TechDogs-"A Beginner’s Guide To IT Governance, Risk And Compliance"-A Suited Man With An Envelope In His Hand.
We all remember the iconic scene where Tony Stark hacks the Pentagon firewall during a Senate hearing. So, what’s the takeaway from this scene – apart from the fact that Tony is a complete badass! It’s that most organizations’ IT security is vulnerable to hacking, data theft and cyber-attacks. Although businesses put efforts into bolstering their firewalls and networks, hackers are always on the move to find new loopholes. Don’t worry, we’re here to help (much like The Avengers!)

IT GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) is a set of processes and procedures that enable organizations to deal with IT uncertainties and operate with complete integrity. The main goal is to instill good security practices in employees’ daily routines. Although GRC is not a new concept, its importance has grown in the business world as cyber-risks have grown in number, complexity and severity.

In this article, we cover what IT GRC means, how it came about, why your organization needs it and what’s the future – readers, assemble!

What Does IT Governance, Risk And Compliance Mean?

Before we understand what IT GRC means, let us look at GRC as a standalone concept. GRC or Governance, Risk and Compliance (although Governance, Risk and Control is also a commonly used acronym) is a plan or strategy for overseeing an organization's overall governance, enterprise risk management and regulatory compliance. It is divided into three categories:
  • Governance

    Ensures that organizational activities support the business goals through constant governance.

  • Risk

    Any risk associated with organizational activities must be identified, classified and addressed.

  • Compliance

    Assures that an organization complies with all legal and regulatory obligations.

These three principles are extended to enterprise technology and cybersecurity to get IT Governance, Risk and Compliance. In a nutshell, cyber risk is not siloed away and IT operations are included within the enterprise GRC strategy. IT GRC provides a framework for aligning IT teams with the organization's overall objectives, allowing businesses to make informed decisions about IT-related activities and avoiding cyber risk. An IT GRC strategy, in essence, combines all of the company's IT risk, compliance and governance functions into a single unified plan.

Yes, it’s not that different than bringing all superheroes under one roof at S.H.I.E.L.D! However, that wasn’t always the case.

Evolution Of IT Governance, Risk And Compliance

Although the exact origins of the term GRC are a little hazy, the acronym was thought to have been coined in the early 1980s by the OCEG (Open Compliance and Ethics Group) as a way of referring to the important guidelines that would allow an organization to manage its overall governance, enterprise risk and regulatory compliances. Michael Rasmussen, known as the "Father of GRC", is also credited for having come up with the term while working as an analyst for Forrester.

GRC originally emerged as a response to the need for better controls and internal governance in large organizations following the wave of digital transformation. Furthermore, in the early 2000s, legal regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) drove compliance requirements. As businesses struggled to reconcile their traditional approaches and legacy systems with the rapid advancements in digital technology, GRC was created as a strategy (rather than a platform or digital solution) to enable organizations to create a structured framework. This approach to managing risk, meeting compliance and maintaining governance across all areas (including IT) is still in use – although with some improvements.

Before we check that out, let’s quickly see why an IT GRC approach is critical for businesses.

Why Do Businesses Need IT Governance, Risk And Compliance?

In a way, almost every organization is involved in governance and risk management. Even S.H.I.E.L.D was engaged in overseeing and managing the risks when it came to supernatural baddies threatening to disturb the peace on Earth! IT GRC brings together processes and roles from across the organization to provide intelligent insights that support data-driven decisions. It promotes transparency among IT teams, allowing stakeholders to see how individual risks affect the overall picture.

Most importantly, because it standardizes processes, practices and guidelines, it ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page. Surely, you remember when Captain America and Tony Stark had an altercation because they both wanted to do things differently. With IT GRC in place, every employee will have the answers to what, when and how for any IT-related issue!

Now, if only it could remind employees to change their passwords regularly!

The Benefits Of IT GRC For Your Business

We’re sure you must be thinking about the advantages of having an IT Governance, Risk and Compliance strategy for your business. Well, stop thinking and start scrolling because there a quite a few of them!
  • Improved Operational Efficiency

    Would the Avengers be able to save the world without being efficient in their tasks? Absolutely not! Similarly, creating an IT GRC framework leads to automation of common processes due to continuous monitoring and exposure to risks. This results in more efficient ways of running IT operations and helps reduce duplicated efforts across the organization.

  • Optimization

    Just as Spider-Man rendered Captain America ineffective by taking away his shield in Civil War, implementing an IT GRC strategy helps businesses eliminate trivial activities and focus on value-adding activities. This streamlines IT operations, reduces time-to-resolution and trims down undesirable variations, which leads to optimum efficiency and transparency.

  • Higher Quality Information

    By following an integrated IT GRC approach, IT teams get a holistic view of the entire organization and are in a better position to make more intelligent and productive decisions when it comes to IT operations.

  • Reduced Costs

    By defining business rules and guidelines, reviewing and consolidating IT activities and actively improving the existing IT GRC plan, organizations are able to lower costs. Think of it as having your very own Nick Fury to ensure cost reduction through effective governance and risk management!

  • Consistency

    Remember the epic final battle in Avengers: Endgame where hundreds of Avengers fight Thanos’ army? Of course, you do! All the Avengers used earpiece communication gear (provided by Tony Stark) to talk to everyone else on the battlefield – an important aspect of their victory. Similarly, communicating and aligning every IT professional and employee with the IT GRC objectives helps add value to the organization, resulting in better decision-making.

  • Enterprise Stability

    By establishing IT GRC strategies, businesses benefit from quicker resolution, while allowing for an agile and scalable IT environment. Essentially, any changes in IT operations can be accommodated quickly if thorough risk management and compliance rules are in place.

Now that we know how IT Governance, Risk and Compliance is serving organizations, let’s check out how it will evolve in the future to become even more robust.

What’s The Future Of IT GRC?

Businesses understand that IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) is a critical process that not only addresses current issues but also defines their future growth and opportunities. Hence, organizations must consider designing a compliance and risk management architecture that addresses not only the current state but also the business vision five or ten years from now.

Cyber risks posed by third parties are one such aspect. However, evaluating peripheral risks given the massive amount of third-party data and constant cyber-attacks is almost impractical. This is where Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will emerge as solutions to make this task less daunting and empower companies to identify potential peripheral risks ahead of time.

Agility in IT GRC is another trend that has received a lot of attention. While it is a common misconception that governance, risk and compliance are enemies of agility, a well-designed and implemented IT GRC practice will enable organizations to deliver faster and more consistently by being agile. It will also strengthen IT GRC practices by breaking down silos and allowing unified GRC guidelines to be implemented across all parts of an organization.


IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (IT GRC) is a crucial aspect of any modern-day business as it gives a structured approach to aligning IT operations with business objectives, while effectively managing risk and meeting compliance requirements. Moreover, implementing an IT GRC strategy also helps businesses eliminate redundancies in their IT activities, reduce costs and ensure consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance (IT GRC)?

IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance (IT GRC) is a strategic framework that organizations use to manage their IT-related risks, ensure regulatory compliance, and align IT activities with business objectives. It encompasses three main components: governance, risk management, and compliance. Governance focuses on ensuring that organizational activities support business goals, while risk management involves identifying, classifying, and addressing any risks associated with these activities. Compliance ensures that the organization adheres to all legal and regulatory obligations. In the context of IT, GRC extends these principles to effectively manage cyber risks and ensure that IT operations are integrated into the overall enterprise GRC strategy.

Why do businesses need IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance?

IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance (IT GRC) is essential for businesses to mitigate the increasingly complex and severe cyber risks they face in today's digital landscape. By adopting an IT GRC strategy, organizations can align their IT activities with business objectives, make informed decisions about IT-related risks, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations. IT GRC promotes transparency among IT teams, standardizes processes and guidelines, and enables stakeholders to understand how individual risks impact the organization as a whole. Ultimately, IT GRC helps businesses enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs, and maintain consistency in IT operations.

What are the benefits of implementing IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance?

Implementing IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance (IT GRC) offers several benefits to businesses. Firstly, it improves operational efficiency by automating common processes, streamlining IT operations, and reducing duplicated efforts. Secondly, it optimizes IT activities by eliminating trivial tasks and focusing on value-adding activities, resulting in faster resolutions and reduced time-to-resolution. Thirdly, it ensures higher quality information and better decision-making by providing IT teams with a holistic view of the organization. Additionally, IT GRC helps businesses reduce costs, maintain consistency, and achieve enterprise stability by establishing agile and scalable IT environments. Overall, IT GRC enables businesses to enhance their governance, risk management, and compliance practices to support their long-term growth and success.

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