This year will be different. It’s a mantra we repeat at the start of every new year. This year we’ll be more organized, more efficient, and more prepared. This year we will slay dragons. We will only keep things that spark joy.
We’re here to tell you that this year can be different—but it will take work and planning to get there. Whether it’s risk management, compliance, business continuity, audit, or any other part of governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), there are tools and best practices to help you organize and automate.
But where to begin? Here are five steps to take you front start to finish so you can make 2021 the year you finally get organized:
- Set priorities. What do you most want to accomplish? Would you like to find more efficient ways to tackle repetitive tasks? Do you want to work more collaboratively with other departments or business lines? Do you crave more consistency when it comes to output? Do you want to centralize all your documents in one place? Do you think you can work more efficiently if you traded in a generic tool for something more role-specific? Do you wish you could look at all your risk data for real-time insights into risk exposure? Make a list and then prioritize what’s on it. Focus on your top GRC priorities with an eye towards opportunities to tie-in lower priorities.
- Examine your priorities. Think through the details of your GRC challenges, and don’t skimp on the details. If you want to find more efficient ways to tackle repetitive tasks, dig into your daily, weekly, and monthly activities and write up a master list. If you want to organize documents, create an inventory of the types of documents you want to centralize. If you’re concentrating on vendor management documents, you’ll need a place to store contracts, due diligence documents, vendor reports, etc. If you want to work more collaboratively, identify who you want to work with and the obstacles that prevent you from collaborating today. If you want more consistent risk assessments, you’ll want to define what you mean by consistent risk assessment, who should be involved in finding a solution, a timeline for evaluating solutions, and what an ideal solution would look like. The more deeply you understand your goal, the easier it will be to figure out how to reach it.
- Make a plan. Once you have a grasp on the details, make a detailed plan for how you’ll accomplish each goal. Don’t just say that you’re going to find a way to make risk assessments more consistent. Create a step-by-step plan that addresses all the details. If you want more consistent risk assessments, steps might include getting buy-in for others who assess risk, researching internal and vendors solutions, budgeting, vendor due diligence, negotiating the contract, implementation and training, and creating a scale and guidelines for risk assessments. If you’re looking to make redundant tasks more efficient, you might want to look for solutions that can automate these tasks. Make sure you include a timeline for completion.
- Create accountability. Self-motivation is a powerful factor for many people. Others need a little peer pressure to stop procrastinating and start solving a problem. That’s why once you’ve set a goal and drawn up a plan, you need to share it with your colleagues—whether that’s your boss, your department, or another department that will also benefit from your efforts. If your institution makes you complete a self-evaluation or document your goals, record it there as well. This accountability will help propel you forward.
- Get it done. Once you know what to do and when it should be done by, getting organized is a much more manageable task. When you break a big task into manageable pieces and you know what to do and when to do it, you’re in a prime position to accomplish your goal—whether that means automation, a new solution, creating new processes, or combining all three.
If you have tasks, processes, documents, or relationships that need attention, now is the time to take action. Dedicating the time and resources to get organized now will save you immeasurably down the road. That’s something that will definitely spark joy.