GRC is the most worthless term in the vendor lexicon. Vendors use it to describe whatever they are selling and Gartner clients use it to describe whatever problem they have. For seven years I have battled this monolithic term and I fear I’m losing the battle. The alternative is to try to bring some clarity to its usage by defining some boundaries.
Here is our published GRC definition, which I like:
GRC is neither a project nor a technology, but a corporate objective for improving governance through more-effective compliance and a better understanding of the impact of risk on business performance. Governance, risk management and compliance have many valid definitions. The following definitions illustrate the relationship of the three terms and serve for Gartner’s GRC research:
- Governance — The process by which policy is set and decision making is executed.
- Risk Management —The process for preventing an unacceptable level of uncertainty in business objectives with a balance of avoidance through reconsideration of objectives, mitigation through the application of controls, transfer through insurance and acceptance through governance mechanisms. It is also the process to ensure that important business processes and behaviors remain within the tolerances associated with policies and decisions set through the governance process.
- Compliance — The process of adherence to policies and decisions. Policies can be derived from internal directives, procedures and requirements, or external laws, regulations, standards and agreements.
When it comes to GRC technologies we have to define some boundaries or essentially GRC is everything and everything is GRC. Well who does that help?
- It’s important to know which projects, workflows, and processes are in scope before starting a tool acquisition process.
- GRC tools are good for automating EXISTING, good processes
- Buying a tool to solve your GRC problems is putting the cart before the horse. For example, if you don’t have risk assessment, buying a GRC tool is not going to give it to you.
IT GRC is a particularly complicated issue so we have recently evolved our definition to help Gartner clients match their need to product capabilities. My next blog post will address this issue in a couple of days.