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The Top Governance, Risk and Compliance Priorities for Public Services in 2021

  • How savvy organisations are getting a handle on GRC to thrive amid new challenges

In 2020 COVID-19 threw public services across the UK into turmoil and forced them to rapidly adopt new ways of working and meet new regulations. Covid-related events and requirements changed so frequently that disruption itself became the only constant, with local authorities, housing service providers and even fire services being disrupted at multiple levels, along with the obvious and enormous impacts on the NHS and health service providers.

In short, 2020 taught us that to achieve objectives reliably, manage uncertainty, and act decisively, public services need a complete view of GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance), rather than a scattered collection of different systems, processes, and departments.

So given what we’ve learned (and are still learning) from the pandemic, some key GRC priorities have emerged and are taking on growing importance as organisations continue to focus on them in 2021.

1 - Growing Resilience

The first of these is the greater push for resilience. If we think of an organisation’s way of working as a journey, and its desired outcomes as the destination, then resilience is its ability to reach its destination by changing course or adapting during times of disruption or uncertainty. The more resilient it is, the better able it is to adapt to change by making necessary adjustments to vary its route but still reach its destination.

Achieving good outcomes is the key measure of success, so it’s little wonder that public services have been prioritising resilience as they work to maintain operations. To do this, they need a clear view of their real-time achievement of outcomes and the supporting journey objectives and performance as it relates to current and future risks. Organisations in 2021 must be more resilient than ever, with rapid, shared awareness of the interconnected risks that impact them to continue their journeys and reach their intended destinations.

2 - Striving for Integration

The second GRC priority is the increased drive towards integration. To help support better, more joined-up GRC in 2021, organisations are increasingly looking to rebuild the way their information is brought together and are moving to more agile digital solutions that can help them tackle their full range of governance, risk, and compliance needs and communicate easily from the board to the front lines.

Organisations will need an integrated system for their processes, information, and technology that will help them identify, analyse, manage, and monitor their GRC, and capture changes in internal and external risk as they happen. It means merging the “top-down” view of risks that are linked to outcomes and objectives, with “bottom-up” engagement at all levels to spot and monitor uncertainty and the impacts on objectives.

3 - Driving Efficiency

The third GRC priority relates to improving governance in that organisations are increasingly looking to achieve more effective governance whilst consuming less of the critical limited resources. Many directors are having to address a wider range of issues than ever, and with delegated responsibilities, rapid, accurate and effective communication of information is crucial.

This may sound particularly challenging, as board members, like employees, have also started working more remotely, but many have come to realise that a healthy mix of in-person and virtual work doesn’t have to hamper their effectiveness. This means that 2021 is seeing a large governance push to adopt digital tools that will help boards and committees maintain high governance standards whilst streamlining process and exploiting digital analysis, presentation and collaboration benefits.

2020 saw a rise in the adoption of cloud technology with the huge increase in remote working. As a result, the opportunities for security breaches to occur have grown too, either through lax habits from users or from active cybercrime, such as the catastrophic ransomware attack on the Republic of Ireland’s healthcare services in May of this year, which saw the theft of patient health records and significant disruption to treatments and outpatient services.

Healthcare providers and other regulated bodies are thus under increasing pressure to ensure – and prove – that their quality, safety and security are robust, and properly up to scratch despite the pandemic pressures.

If done correctly governance, risk management and compliance should be a seamless part of everyday work. And while getting there isn’t easy, organisations that get a firm handle on digitising their GRC over the summer of 2021 have a much better chance of thriving in today’s complex, fast-changing world.

Robert Hobbs

Chief Executive Officer

InPhase’s Chief Executive and Founder, Robert has been the visionary leading InPhase to be one of the UK's leading providers of management, governance and assurance solutions, and helping organisations align their actions and goals more easily and efficiently with InPhase's suite of integrated apps.

GRC, Covid