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Documenting and Managing Governance, Risk and Compliance with Business Process

by Marios Forsos       • February 12, 2021

Managing an organization’s governance, risk and compliance (GRC) via its enterprise and business architectures means managing them against business processes (BP).

Shockingly, a lot of organizations, even today, manage this through, either homemade tools or documents, checklists, Excel files, custom-made databases and so on and so forth. The three main reasons organizations tend to still operate in this manual and disparate way comes down to three reasons:

  1. Cost
  2. Governance, risk and compliance are treated as isolated bubbles.
  3. Data-related risks are not connected with the data architects/data scientists.

If we look at this past year, COVID-19 fundamentally changed everything overnight – and it was something that nobody could have anticipated. However, only organizations that had their risks mapped at the process level could see their operational risk profiles and also see what processes needed adjustments – quickly.

Furthermore, by linking compliance with process, those organizations were prepared to answer very specific compliance questions. For example, if a customer asked, “Since most of your employees are working from home now, how can you ensure that my data is not shared with their kids?” Organizations with business process could respond with, “We have anticipated these kinds of risks and implemented the following controls, and this is how we protect you in different layers.”

Every company must understand its business processes, particularly those in industries in which quality, regulatory, health, safety or environmental standards are serious considerations. BP modeling and analysis shows process flows, system interactions and organizational hierarchies to identity areas for improvement as well as practices susceptible to the greatest security, compliance or other risks so controls and audits can be implemented to mitigate exposures.

Connecting the GRC, Data and Process Layers

The GRC layer comprises mandatory components like risks, controls and compliance elements. Traditionally, these are manually documented, monitored and managed.

For example, if tomorrow you decide you want ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 27001 compliance for your information security management system, you can go to the appropriate ISO site, download the entire standard with all the assessments with all the descriptions, mandates, questions and documents that you will need to provide. All of these items would comprise the GRC layer.

However, many organizations maintain Excel files with risk and control information and other Office files with compliance files and information in isolation. Or some of these files are uploaded to various systems, but they don’t talk to each other or any other enterprise systems for that matter. This is the data layer, which is factual, objective and, as opposed to the GRC layer, can be either fully or partly automated.

Now, let’s add the process layer to the equation. Why? Because that is where the GRC and data layers meet. How? Processes produce, process and consume data –information captured in the metadata layer. By following the process sequence, I can actually trace the data lineage as it flows across the entire business ecosystem, beyond the application layer.

Taking it further, from processes, I can look at how the data is being managed by my capabilities. In other words, if I do have a data breach, how do I mitigate it? What impact will it have on my organization? And what are the necessary controls to manage it? Looking at them from right to left, I can identify the effected systems, and I can identify the interfaces between systems.

Mitigating Data Breaches

Most data breaches happen either at the database or interface level. Interfaces are how applications talk to each other.

Organizations are showing immense interest in expanding the development of risk profiles, not only for isolated layers but also in how those layers interact – how applications talk to each other, how processes use data, how data is stored, and how infrastructure is managed. Understanding these profiles allows for more targeted and even preemptive risk mitigation, enabling organizations to fortify their weak points with sufficient controls but also practical and effective processes.

We’re moving from a world in which everything is performed manually and in isolation to one that is fully automated and integrated.

erwin instructs how to document and manage governance, risk and compliance using business process modeling and enterprise architecture solution erwin Evolve.

The C-Level Demands GRC Real-Time Impact Analysis

Impact analysis is critical. Everything needs to be clearly documented, covering all important and relevant aspects. No service, capability or delivery process is considered complete unless the risks and controls that affect it, or are implemented through it, are mapped and that assessment is used to generate risk profiles for the process, service or capability. And the demand for this to happen automatically increases daily.

This is now one of the key mandates across many organizations. C-level executives now demand risk profile dashboards at the process ,organizational and local level.

For example, an executive travelling from one country to another, or from one continent to another, can make a query: “I’m traveling to X, so what is the country’s risk profile and how is it being managed What do I need to be aware of or address while I’m there?” Or when a new legislation is introduced affecting multiple countries, the impact of that legislation to those countries’ risk profiles can be quickly and accurately calculated and actions planned accordingly.

erwin Evolve

GRC is more critical than ever. Organizations and specifically the C-suite are demanding to see risk profiles at different slices and dices of a particular process. But this is impossible without automation.

erwin Evolve is a full-featured, configurable enterprise architecture (EA) and BP modeling and analysis software suite that aids regulatory and industry compliance and maps business systems that support the enterprise. Its automated visualization, documentation and enterprise collaboration capabilities turn EA and BP artifacts into insights both IT and business users can access in a central location for making strategic decisions and managing GRC.

Please click here to start your free trial of erwin Evolve.

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