Compliance vs GRC

Estimated reading: 3 minutes 248 views


Compliance and Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) are related concepts in the business and regulatory landscape, but they have distinct focuses and scopes.

Here’s a comparison between compliance and GRC:


Definition: Compliance refers to the act of adhering to laws, regulations, standards, and guidelines relevant to a particular industry or organization. It involves ensuring that an organization operates within the legal and regulatory boundaries that apply to its activities.

Focus: Compliance primarily focuses on meeting specific requirements set by external authorities, such as government agencies, industry regulators, or standards bodies.

Scope: Compliance is concerned with specific regulations, laws, or standards relevant to a particular industry or sector. It addresses issues such as data privacy, financial reporting, environmental regulations, health and safety, and more.

Goal: The goal of compliance is to avoid legal penalties, fines, and reputational damage that can arise from non-compliance. It seeks to ensure that the organization’s operations are in line with the established rules and regulations.

Activities: Compliance activities include understanding relevant regulations, implementing processes to adhere to those regulations, conducting audits to verify compliance, and maintaining records that demonstrate compliance.

Example: A healthcare organization ensuring it follows HIPAA regulations to protect patient privacy and data is an example of compliance.

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC):

Definition: GRC is a broader framework that encompasses governance, risk management, and compliance. It involves the strategies, processes, and tools used to manage an organization’s overall approach to governance, risk, and compliance-related activities.

Focus: GRC focuses on integrating governance (decision-making and oversight), risk management (identifying and mitigating risks), and compliance activities into a cohesive and coordinated approach.

Scope: GRC covers not only compliance with regulations but also the broader aspects of organizational governance and risk management. It aims to align these areas with the organization’s strategic goals.

Goal: The goal of GRC is to create a structured approach that helps organizations make informed decisions, manage risks effectively, and ensure compliance while optimizing overall performance.

Activities: GRC activities include defining corporate governance structures, identifying and assessing risks, developing risk mitigation strategies, implementing compliance processes, and using technology to streamline and automate GRC processes.

Example: An organization implementing a GRC framework might establish a board-level committee responsible for oversight of compliance and risk management activities, and it might use software tools to monitor and manage various GRC tasks.


In summary, compliance focuses on meeting specific regulatory requirements, while GRC encompasses a holistic approach to aligning governance, risk management, and compliance activities with an organization’s strategic objectives. GRC aims to create a unified and coordinated approach that enhances decision-making, risk mitigation, and overall organizational performance.

Explore our GRC launchpad to gain expertise on numerous GRC Topics and compliance standards.

Join the conversation