Real-World GRC Convergence: Platform Considerations

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Key Software Evaluation Considerations

  • Configurability: Does "configurability" also require significant customization? How will the vendor manage maintenance and upgrades for the client?
  • Time to value: Can the vendor produce a plan for delivering value for at least two stakeholder groups within six months?
  • Multi-stakeholder integration: Can the vendor produce a plan for providing individual stakeholder groups with their own workspaces devoid of clutter from other stakeholder groups, while also consolidating information into corporate risk profiles? How many modules are required initially and how much will additional modules cost?
  • Development: Can the vendor configure core functionality from licensed modules into new solutions, or will each new targeted solution on the vendor's development roadmap require additional modules or licensing?
  • Reporting: Can configurations flow through to ad hoc reporting analysis without requiring significant technical effort on the part of the client or intervention by the vendor?
  • Implementation team and customer support: Can the vendor demonstrate its commitment to applying its functionality to a customer's specific program? What functional guidance is included in the baseline support? How are support resources trained and how is the knowledge gained during implementation transferred to the future support team?

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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