Real-World GRC Convergence: Platform Considerations

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Internal Audit (IA) Requirements

IA GRC platforms help companies integrate IA into their GRC programs. IA platforms should help organizations:

  • Automate the audit process, from risk assessment through reporting.
  • Identify and assess risks through integrated surveys, simplifying the feedback process and tying risks to key processes and organizations feeding the audit planning process.
  • Schedule audits and allocate audit resources based on availability and skills profile.
  • Track projects, report on resource utilization, and manage budgets through time and expense tracking.
  • Manage electronic work papers offline through an audit workbench, including field-level synchronization and conflict management.
  • Remediate issues identified during the audit process and follow them through to completion to ensure gaps are addressed.
  • Compile audit information and create final audit reports quickly, reducing the time and effort required to provide management and the board with key risk information.

Integration of multiple governance, risk and compliance (GRC) disciplines on a single platform is a laudable goal, and the effort to achieve it by both vendors and their customer organizations is increasing. Notably, within the enterprise GRC (eGRC) space, integration occurs most often among the internal audit, financial controls and enterprise risk assurance functions. Conversely, the compliance function has been less inclined to integrate, due in part to the specific subject-matter expertise required for each of the compliance functions, which makes the broader risk and control sets documented by other groups less relevant to compliance teams.

Still, the Institute of Internal Auditors' (The IIA) position paper, "The Three Lines of Defense In Effective Risk Management and Control" (January 2013), offers valuable insight into why it makes sense to bring these functions together, at least on an aggregated level, even if subsets of information are contained in other source systems. According to the paper, convergence will enable the three lines (operational/business-line managers, risk and compliance functions, and internal audit) to coordinate activities, map assurance functions and perform independent validation.

But significant barriers to the comprehensive and successful integration of GRC technology across numerous groups remain. For example, many organizations continue to depend on multiple GRC technologies to fulfill different and specific departmental needs, and most organizations use different platforms for IT GRC and eGRC. Other obstacles include the lack of a unified GRC framework or a common language, the complexity of existing technologies, the lack of effective change management, and a lack of demonstrable return on investment (ROI).

Achieving convergence in the face of these obstacles requires technology capable of unifying an organization's policies, processes and infrastructure. In this slideshow, Protiviti has identified the key elements of a technology platform capable of doing so.


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