Best Practices for Achieving Effective IT GRC: A Guide to Dos and Don'ts

The Dos and Don’ts of IT GRC: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

The changing business landscape has mandated the need for IT GRC, which stands for information technology governance, risk management, and compliance.  

IT GRC ensures that the organization has adequate policies and procedures in place to deflate cyber threats, assess and mitigate cyber risks, and comply with applicable standards and frameworks. 

An IT GRC program is a formalization of all these processes. Without a well-defined IT GRC program, an organization might face cyber attacks and face penalties, and fines. GRC can become overwhelming for the organization that is attempting to carry it out for the first time. It is not uncommon to lose track while carrying out GRC. Whether it is your first year in the business or you are a growing business, the GRC process requires a strategic outlook. 

But what should an effective IT GRC program look like? To help you understand the IT GRC tools in more detail, we have listed some of the dos and don’ts for the organization.

Why is it important to Implement an IT GRC program? 

It is imperative that organizations follow a combined approach towards GRC, in sync with the overall goals defined by the management instead of an isolated IT GRC program. 

IT GRC program is important because it ensures that the IT systems of the organization are aligned with its business goals, comply with relevant standards and frameworks, and are protected against cyber attacks. Almost all organizations fall under multiple standards that they must adhere to in order to be compliant. Organizations, especially the large ones, should often have overwhelmingly humongous amounts of regulations to be followed. These might include preparing and implementing policies, conducting internal and external audits, and mitigating risks. 

Moreover, partners may require adherence to frameworks like SOC 2 and ISO 27001 to carry out business with them. The organization itself may require intense vendor management to ensure that suppliers and vendors follow frameworks to guarantee data integrity.

Maintaining robust risk management and cybersecurity posture poses issues for the organization’s management. These issues include identifying and patching gaps in IT procedures, assessing and responding to threats to your organization, and managing audit processes for compliance. Many organizations have introduced comprehensive GRC programs to deal with these issues. However, completing all these tasks manually taxes the organization. Hence, there is a need for an automated IT GRC platform

Let’s look at what are the best practices to achieve effective IT GRC for an organization and what an organization should refrain from doing for the same. 


An organization should carry out certain tasks in order to form a strong GRC process. Let’s look at some of them in detail. 

1. Establish a clear GRC strategy

1. Establish a clear GRC strategy

A clear GRC strategy involves the organization defining its objectives, scope, and priorities. 

  • Defining the objectives – The strategy of GRC begins by defining the objectives of the IT GRC program. Typically, organizations aim to strengthen the security and reliability of IT systems, ensure compliance with IT regulations and frameworks, reduce risk exposure, and increase transparency and accountability in their IT operations. Align the IT GRC objectives with the organization’s strategic goals and mission.
  • Deciding the scope – The scope of your GRC program has two sections – the scope of people and the scope of systems. Identify the scope of IT systems that will be covered in the GRC program and the employees that will be involved in the process.
  • Setting the priorities – The priorities of the IT GRC program will be different in every organization depending on its functions and size. It may differ according to how much risk an organization faces and its risk tolerance. So, set your tailor-made priorities to suit your needs.

The next step is to allocate resources and a budget to support the IT GRC program. You should plan your expenses – capital and overhead – in advance. A detailed budget can help you navigate the finances of the GRC program. The organization should also clearly understand how it will finance the GRC program. 

Additionally, it should allocate all the other resources, including human and administrative resources, for the GRC program. If you don’t prepare adequately beforehand, it can lead to chaos during the GRC implementation phase.

2. Involve stakeholders and establish accountability

2. Involve stakeholders and establish accountability

The second action you should take to implement IT GRC effectively is involving stakeholders and establishing accountability. 

  • Identify stakeholders – The organization must identify stakeholders, such as management personnel, IT employees, compliance officers, audit staff, and legal departments, for the implementation of the GRC program.
  • Define the stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities – Assign the responsibilities to each and every stakeholder in clear terms. They should be aware of the expectations of the organization. Also, the higher management should assess whether the tasks are completed on time.
  • Communicate the importance of IT GRC – It is crucial that every person on the team is aware of the importance of IT GRC. Educate the stakeholders about the legal and financial repercussions of non-compliance for the organization’s overall success.
  • Establish a governance framework – A governance framework involves the creation of policies, procedures, and controls required for an effective IT GRC program. This framework should be reviewed regularly and communicated to all stakeholders.
  • Implement the IT GRC program – The next step is to implement the IT GRC program. Focus on technologies, including risk management, policy management, and compliance monitoring. Training the stakeholders is one of the significant sections of the IT GRC program.
  • Monitor and report the IT GRC program – Monitoring and reporting all the facets of the IT GRC program, including governance, risk management, and compliance, can help the organization pinpoint flaws as soon as they appear.
  • Identify the flaws and update the GRC plan – Regular updation of the GRC program ensures its relevance. An outdated program can do more harm than good to the organization.

3. Conduct regular risk assessments

3. Conduct regular risk assessments

One of the most important GRC best practices for achieving effective IT GRC is regularity in risk assessment. As they say, ‘precaution is better than cure’; assessing the risk and patching vulnerabilities is much better than dealing with a data breach. The following steps are a way to conduct regular risk assessments.

  • Identify IT assets – Begin by identifying the IT assets, including hardware, software, applications, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, that should be assessed for risk management. 
  • Identify threats – An organization can face internal and external threats. While conducting the risk assessment, the organization must focus on both types of threats.
  • Assess vulnerabilities – Asset vulnerability refers to the flaw in software or hardware that can be responsible for letting the cybercriminal into the organization’s systems. Assess all the assets for possible vulnerabilities and patch them as soon as possible. 
  • Determine likelihood and impact – Determine the chances of a data breach and the impact it will have on the organization. This step helps the organization calculate risk. 
  • Calculate risk – Considering the likelihood and impact of the risks, calculate the risk that is imminent for the organization. Now, address the risks in accordance with your priorities.
  • Identify controls – Create a list of controls you already have in place in the organization’s systems. Controls are the way in which the organization addresses and mitigates the risks. These controls may include but are not limited to updating software and hardware, training employees, and implementing security measures.
  • Implement controls – Implement the controls identified in the step above. Identify any issues faced by the organization in the implementation and address them soon. Review the implementation frequently to ensure its effectiveness.

4. Regularly review and update policies and procedures

4. Regularly review and update policies and procedures

An organization should regularly review and update IT GRC policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure they remain current and relevant. They should be up to date with the latest industrial frameworks and regulations. The policies and procedures should consider the ongoing threats in the industry to maintain the cybersecurity posture of the organization. The following steps can be a guide to reviewing your policies and procedures.

  • Establish a review cycle – Review your policies and procedures regularly. Experts recommend term review in addition to reviewing after every significant event. These events can be changes in organizational structure, changes in legal policies, or a cybersecurity incident.
  • Identify stakeholders – Identify the people who will be managing the policy reviews. The roles of these people must be clearly defined with an authoritative structure.
  • Evaluate effectiveness – Review the effectiveness of the current policies and procedures. Gather evidence, artifacts, feedback, and reports from various sections of the organization. Assess this evidence to form a comprehensive report of the effectiveness. 
  • Identify gaps – The comprehensive report on the effectiveness of the policies and procedures will help you identify the gaps in the systems. These gaps can become vulnerabilities hindering the progress of the organization.
  • Develop updates – Patch the gaps with necessary updates. A single error in patching the software, hardware, or firmware can be the initial vector of a major cyber incident.
  • Communicate changes – Once you have developed the updates, ensure that all the stakeholders are aware of the changes made in the policies. Train the employees if you see a knowledge gap.
  • Monitor effectiveness – An organization can’t ever stop to review the policies and procedures if it wants an effective IT GRC. 

Now that we’ve discussed the dos of IT GRC, let’s take a look at some of the actions organizations must refrain from doing when it comes to effectively implementing a GRC program. 


Sometimes in organizations’ management, the ‘don’t’ take precedence over the ‘dos’ as they are more impactful. Let us list out what an organization should not do in order to have an effective IT GRC.

1. Don’t treat IT GRC as a one-time project

IT GRC should be an ongoing process rather than a one-time wonder. It requires the full attention of the people involved and a nod from the top management. IT GRC is not only important for maintaining compliance but is also an integral part of the cybersecurity posture of the organization. It is much more than a mere compliance requirement. 

In many organizations, IT GRC is a siloed process with little to connect to the other activities of the organization. This approach often fails or creates duplication of efforts for the organization. Therefore, IT GRC should be a part of the main activities of the business, which are carried out by all the employees of the organization.

Continuous upgradation of the policies and procedures is crucial as there are new regulations in the industry with evolving technologies. 

2. Don’t overlook the importance of training and awareness

Training is an integral part of the IT GRC program and should not be neglected. All stakeholders, including employees and contractors, should be educated on the importance of cybersecurity, compliance, and policies. 

Assessment in the form of quizzes and tests should also be held to equip the stakeholders for real-world cyber threats. Scrut has an excellent employee training module that can help you train, assess, and encourage your employees to use secure cyber practices. 

In addition, ongoing awareness campaigns can help to reinforce the importance of IT GRC and promote a culture of security and compliance throughout the organization. This can involve regular communications, such as newsletters, emails, and posters, as well as training sessions and workshops.

Training and awareness can reduce the chances of security incidents in the organization. The employees are often targeted during the initial period of the cyber attack. Training them to know the pitfalls can help the organization secure itself. 

3. Don’t rely solely on technology

While technology streamlines and hastens your organization’s GRC program, it should be considered a tool, not the entire truth. Human intervention is still needed in the GRC processes. For example, although a GRC tool can reduce the manual evidence collection process by 70%, it still needs 30 help from human resources. 

IT GRC requires a combination of people, processes, and technology to be successful. The GRC process can turn chaotic without any single element of these three elements. The people of the organization must invest time and energy in reviewing the functionality of the GRC solution. Plus, they should be able to alert the organization if they find any loopholes in the program.

The processes are in place because they can ensure that the organization is managing, monitoring, and auditing the technology appropriately. The technology must be relevant at any given time in the organization.


In conclusion, a robust GRC program can provide significant benefits to an organization, including improved risk management, enhanced compliance, increased efficiency, better decision-making, and improved stakeholder confidence. Implementing a GRC program requires time and resources, but the long-term benefits can far outweigh the initial investment.

To learn more about how smartGRC software can help your organization effectively implement a GRC program, schedule a demo with us today.


What are the benefits of implementing an IT GRC program?

Some of the benefits of implementing an IT GRC program are:
1. Mitigation of cyber risks
2. Improved security posture
3. Optimized policies and procedures
4. Reduced costs
5. Slashed fines and penalties

What are some common mistakes organizations make when implementing IT GRC?

Organizations often treat IT GRC as a siloed practice and fail to integrate it with the main objectives of the organization. They treat IT GRC as a one-time project rather than an ongoing exercise resulting in the failure of the program. 
Additionally, the organizations overlook the importance of the human factor in IT GRC. They fail to train their employees adequately to use the IT GRC software and to notify the management in case of a breach. This leads to a chaotic IT GRC environment.

Can small businesses benefit from implementing an IT GRC program?

Any business, whether small or large, can benefit from implementing an IT GRC program. In a small business, the roles and responsibilities often overlap as there are fewer employees to carry out multiple tasks. In such cases, the responsibility of IT GRC falls on the shoulders of the IT department or the top management, all of whom have other responsibilities as well. This increases the chances of failure of the program as enough time is not spent on it. An automated IT GRC program can help small businesses carry out their tasks with ease and simplicity without losing productivity.

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