The GRC Software Buyer's Guide:

Evaluating a GRC Solution

As you’re evaluating GRC solutions, consider all of an application’s functionality and how they differ on key points of comparison such as integrations, automations, workflows, and reporting. Whether a generic solution is all you need or you’ve reached the point where you would benefit from a full-featured GRC platform, the software you choose should be able to check the boxes in these four crucial areas.

Core Functionality

A successful compliance team must be able to meet key objectives: ensure company-wide security, pass audits, build trust with customers, and clearly identify and articulate risk to the board and other stakeholders. To do this effectively, teams rely on GRC software to organize and streamline their information and work.

Asset Management

A fundamental piece of maintaining compliance is keeping an accurate inventory of assets and monitoring access to these assets for security purposes. A solution should automatically update all of your assets including people, groups, and service accounts, as well as their devices, SaaS systems, the company’s cloud infrastructure and more. Difficult compliance tasks such as user access reviews should be simplified, if not automated. Assets should be able to be tagged with custom designations to help organize the assets and control how automations apply to them. The asset information should be integrated with other parts of the product to easily manage risk, evidence, vendors, and more.

Vendor Management

Having vendor management functionality work seamlessly with the rest of your GRC solution helps you manage your framework requirements around vendor security onboarding and reviews. This includes integrating vendor management with risk management to make it easy to evaluate the risk of your vendors. Your GRC tools should make it easy to evaluate, onboard/offboard, and monitor your vendors. This means you should be able to create vendor assessments and send them to your vendors, and your software should help you get them completed with all the information stored into an inventory. Best-of-breed tools will help you manage the back-and-forth of these assessments as you need more details. 

Risk Management

An important part of any GRC solution is the “R”; which stands for risk.  Your GRC tooling should help you identify and assess potential threats to your business. This means establishing a system for evaluation risk, setting a threshold for risk, and storing the results of your risk evaluations. It should be easy to tell whether a given risk is within your acceptable risk tolerance. When risk management is connected to policy management, evidence management, audit management, and workflows, it becomes a painless exercise to evaluate risk and use that evaluation in an audit.

Trust Management

While trust management may be an unfamiliar term, you likely know the challenge. Once you’ve received your certifications you need to respond to customers doing vendor reviews. This means sharing security documentation, responding to reviews, and filling out assessments. This typically manual process is turned into a self-service solution for customers when you have a trust management solution. With a trust management solution, you can avoid the hassle of sharing security documentation and simplify responding to VSA questionnaires to build customer trust and expedite sales.

Audit Management

Months (or even years) of hard work eventually culminates in submitting all of your work to an auditor. Managing this audit process should be simple; however it’s usually a game of go fish with auditors asking for information and compliance managers scrambling to deliver on requests. With a dedicated audit management solution, it’s easy to upload the auditors’ requests, manage each one to completion, and share an organized output of everything to streamline the audit process. With an audit management solution that is integrated with your policy management, evidence management, and automation tools, it’s easy to use already collected evidence or policy information to fulfill a request. And when it is connected with your workflows, obtaining new evidence is dramatically simplified.

Evidence Management

One of the most fundamental pieces of a GRC solution is the evidence management functionality. Storing evidence of the control implement you’ve done throughout time makes achieving compliance certifications much easier. The best evidence management solutions make it easy to manually collect or even automate evidence collection and organize everything for audits and third-party security reviews. With evidence management connected to policy management, evidence collected is easily identified as belonging to specific controls and framework requirements—making it easy to find and use in an audit.

Policy Management

Organizing all of your requirements, controls, policies, documents, and procedures across many frameworks can result in a tangled mess of spreadsheets, documents, and folders without a policy management solution. With a GRC solution, however, it’s simple to store and update your entire ISMS. While most solutions make it easy to create a policy manual, the best ones automatically cross-map requirements across frameworks within that manual. When the policy management information is connected to evidence, you’re able to collect evidence once and use it in every framework it applies to. Because the frameworks and controls are ultimately what you’re working against, your solution should make it easy to track how well you’re implementing your controls with reports that show the evidence you have or need per control and per framework, including issues that need to be resolved.

Especially in companies that are still maturing their GRC practices, it’s not uncommon for these modules to live in different tools distributed across different departments. It becomes difficult for compliance teams to own, visualize, monitor, and ensure compliance in security practices, increasing the chances for human error, duplicate work, and a lot of manual effort. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to invest in a smart GRC platform to consolidate tools and automate routine processes. But not all GRC platforms are created equal. We recommend comparing and evaluating platforms and their modules across four main areas—integrations, automations, workflows, and reporting—to make sure that your GRC solution offers the features and functionality you need to practice compliance at scale. Here’s what to look for.

5 Questions to Ask about Core Functionality

  • Does your solution provide all of the core functionality that enables you to execute your compliance program?
  • What are your needs around the areas of core functionality? (Consider identifying need-to-have and nice-to-have functionality)
  • Does the functionality of the tool meet the needs you identified?
  • Is the set of functionality able to replace the existing solutions you use AND make your work easier to complete?
  • Where is the tool better or worse than other options, and how does that compare to your needs?
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