Gone are the days when a successful business can be risk averse. In today’s technology led world every layer of innovation and improvement adds another set of branches to the complex roadmap of governance, risk and compliance (GRC). But within that landscape often lies the greatest rewards, as PwC’s 2023 Global Risk Survey found that the top performing 5% of organisations, built on enterprise-wide resilience and driven by a balanced human-led, tech-powered approach to risk, are already achieving more successful outcomes than others.

“The age of the benign risk environment is over for the foreseeable future, amplified by the increasing pace and impact of technology change. These threats mean taking risk intelligently—powered by technology and framed by growth and opportunity—is now critical to adapting and reinventing yourself in this constantly changing world to both protect and create value.”

Simon Perry, Head of Markets & Services, Risk, PwC UK

It might seem ironic that the solution to problems caused by adopting technology, would be to add more tech, but GRC and security tools act as a co-pilot to lead you through risk to reap the rewards on the other side.

To assist you on your own GRC journey, we sourced expert advice and heard from customers of SAP to compile this step-by-step guide for SAP Security and Compliance.

Defining GRC: Governance, Risk and Compliance

For the sake of inclusivity, let’s start at the very beginning. According to OCEG, a nonprofit organisation that provides global GRC standards and best practices, “GRC is the integrated collection of capabilities that enable an organisation to reliably achieve objectives, address uncertainty and act with integrity”. This definition encapsulates the holistic approach to governance, risk management, and compliance that underpins effective GRC strategies.

Insight into SAP Governance, Risk, and Compliance (SAP GRC):

“SAP Governance, Risk, and Compliance (SAP GRC) is a suite of solutions focused on managing multiple aspects of a business. Security components include process and access control for authorisations, audit management tools, and business integrity screening to detect fraud and screen potential business partners.” — SAP PRESS.

Simply put, SAP GRC solutions offer comprehensive functionalities designed to address the diverse challenges of security and compliance management within SAP environments we find in the modern business world.

Five Steps to Managing Risk with SAP Security and Compliance

Clearly Define Responsibility for Digital Data

At the core of any robust security and compliance framework lies the clarity of responsibility for digital data. So, your first step should be appointing a dedicated project manager. They will serve as the orchestrator, aligning efforts, and ensuring adherence to timelines and objectives. The other critical role in the team is GRC officer, which should naturally fall to the organisation’s Chief Risk Officer (CRO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This will allow you to bring their specialised expertise to the forefront, fortifying the internal control system and ensuring a comprehensive approach to data governance that everyone is invested in.

Organise Project Team with GRC at the Core

Organising the project team within a matrix structure further strengthens the alignment of efforts towards SAP Security and Compliance goals. This matrix should be equipped with budgetary decision-making authority and the capability to issue instructions seamlessly. Introducing a project organisation matrix streamlines communication channels, fosters collaboration, and enhances agility in decision-making, all pivotal in navigating the complexities of GRC. By embedding GRC principles within the organisational structure, enterprises can effectively manage risks and ensure compliance across all business functions.

Prioritise Data Protection with Risk Management Focus

It’s important that you collaborate with data and process owners to classify data based on agreed levels of criticality and sensitivity. This classification forms the bedrock for clarifying data protection requirements, enabling a targeted and risk-based approach. By aligning data protection initiatives with risk management principles, organisations can allocate resources efficiently, focusing efforts where they’re most needed to mitigate potential threats effectively. Furthermore, integrating GRC into risk management processes enables continuous monitoring and adaptation to threats as they evolve, ensuring proactive protection at all times.

Smart and Standardised Implementation of Regulations

Efficiently determining valid regulatory requirements sets the stage for a smart and standardised implementation approach. Embrace the philosophy of “as much as necessary, as little as possible” in order to strike a balance between compliance and operational efficiency.

Streamline Risk Navigation with Digital Tools

Leveraging GRC tools will allow you to automate compliance processes, optimise costs and ensure seamless adherence to regulations without burdening resources. Even for system maintenance these tools let you navigate security and compliance with precision and agility. You will also be able to access real-time monitoring and reporting, allowing you to demonstrate compliance to regulatory bodies and stakeholders quickly and effectively. This will not only help you move forward as a business, but it will go a long way towards building trust with those around you.

GRC Insights and Industry Trends

As daunting as the risk landscape has become, GRC tools now demonstrate a powerful arsenal you can deploy to help manage it, and you’d be in good company moving in this direction. Gartner predicts that “legal and compliance department investment in governance, risk and compliance tools will increase 50% by 2026”. This news only serves to underscore the growing importance of GRC in the realm of security and compliance management.

We’ve outlined a five-step approach to guide you towards effective implementation of SAP Security and Compliance, but you can apply these principles to most of your core security strategies:

  1. Clearly Define Responsibility for Digital Data
  2. Organise Project Team with GRC at the Core
  3. Prioritise Data Protection with Risk Management Focus
  4. Smart and Standardised Implementation of Regulations
  5. Streamline Risk Navigation with Digital Tools

Safeguarding internal control systems against security threats and ensuring compliance with regulatory mandates are imperative for organisations striving to protect sensitive data, maintain customer trust, and uphold their reputation. But this needs to be done without stifling the potential for growth. In essence, achieving a harmonious balance between code and board is not just a necessity but a strategic imperative in today’s digital age, where the stakes are higher than ever, and the consequences of security lapses can be dire.

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