Risk management has long been one of the primary duties of boards, executives, and security and compliance teams. However, implementing the practices, processes, and policies that enable and ensure integrated risk management is often a difficult task. The challenge lies in having to address multifaceted interconnections between cybersecurity, data governance, regulatory compliance, and various types of risk — financial, operational, reputational, third-party, and more.
Business continuity and resiliency will be a key part of success
With the support of GRC solutions, most day-to-day tasks of monitoring, tracking, and documenting can be automated, leaving leaders and teams with more time for higher-level activities. At that point, compliance programs become significantly more efficient and meaningful. As part of an integrated risk approach, it builds resilience and allows organizations to increase their risk appetite. Combined, these benefits put companies at an advantage over competitors and create a solid foundation for growth and change.
Within the business continuity space, 2018 will see an increased focus on reorganizing and consolidating the following disciplines: business continuity management planning, disaster recovery, incident response and crisis management. There is a concise view amongst security and compliance teams that these programs should be seen as part of a larger, more integrated effort to develop business resiliency. This conceptualization more firmly establishes risk management as an organizational responsibility to establish, maintain, recover, and improve business operations in the wake of adversity.
Third-party partners can create more risk
In an era of rapid digital transformation and business model disruption, the relationship between companies and third parties has continued to shift. That shift has to do with how third parties are now viewed. Third-party vendors are increasingly considered partners, meaning they’re an extension of the company that relies on their products and services. However, closer ties also introduce mutual risk, with the primary enterprise left holding more of the liability and responsibility for ensuring the compliance of all engaged entities. As a result of the increase in state-level and industry guidance and enforcement aimed at controlling persistent cybersecurity risk, more industries will experience this paradigm in 2018.
In the year ahead, it is important for companies to prioritize how they manage third-party risk, with a particular focus on regular assessments, performance monitoring, and security processes. Streamlined controls, repeatable processes, and centralized documentation will be essential to achieving closer oversight and tighter integration between data governance, compliance, and security efforts in the context of third-party management.
Integrated and Flexible Compliance and Risk Management Solutions
With business landscapes continuing to change rapidly in 2018, organizations will look for flexible solutions that enable efficient adjustments for regulatory change, market dynamics, and unexpected challenges. In the area of compliance and risk management, businesses will no longer simply relate information to a standard. To appropriately manage risk with actionable information, compliance and risk data must relate to the business itself. Furthermore, any point-based solutions must be connected to an integrated risk management system, in order to break down silos in the organization, increase visibility, and close gaps that could create liability or vulnerability.
Gartner’s delineation of integrated risk management attributes encompasses strategy, assessment, response, communication and reporting, monitoring, and technology. Implementing this approach certainly requires the messy but rewarding work of collaboration, integration, and systemization, but comprehensive GRC solutions provide a central grounding point from which to start or mature, and purpose-built tools for establishing connections, assigning workflows, and bringing efficiencies to labor-intensive processes.
Having a comprehensive picture of risk across business units, partners, and vendors is good for business. It informs strategic decisions at the highest levels, keeps operations humming along, and protects investments in people, process, and technology. Mature, enterprise-wide compliance programs can shape and strengthen quality, culture, security, corporate responsibility, brand reputation and more. In the past, this level of compliance maturity has been attainable only at a steep cost.
Looking Ahead in 2018
As part of the organization’s annual risk assessment, it is important for the team to step back and assess what they did right, and what could be done better. The team needs to look at the big picture to assess what incidents or issues from the past year might have been avoided or mitigated by a more robust and integrated GRC program. Focus on what your goals and concerns for the year ahead and try to compile a plan to address them more effectively with more in-depth performance information and risk analyses, more efficient processes, or more confidence in your security stance.
Developing a mature approach to cybersecurity, business resiliency, and third-party risk management can be a daunting task. Leadership and corporate culture, readiness to change, digital competence, and management buy-in are all crucial foundational elements. Choosing the right technology tools and investing the time to implement and integrate them is also imperative.
Waiting another year to launch these efforts will put you at a disadvantage. Natural disasters, political upheaval, regulatory change, and cyber-attacks won’t wait for you to be ready. With a thriving, valued, prioritized campaign to develop technology systems, team leaders, and effective processes your enterprise will be set to weather storms, leverage opportunities, and grow sustainably. In 2018, focusing on internal threats, third-party vulnerabilities, and security fundamentals is a good bet.