From Microsoft Excel to GRC Software: 5 Essential Lessons for Success

May 8, 2024 · READ

From data entry to budgets and everything in between, Microsoft Excel and the Office 365 Suite have been integral to business operations for decades. Despite their widespread use, especially when shifting from Excel to GRC applications, it’s estimated that over 90% of spreadsheets contain errors, and as many as half of corporate models have significant flaws. Despite this, when we first published a version of this story in 2010, GRC 20/20 Research founder Michael Rasmussen stated that Microsoft Excel (along with SharePoint and Word) was the most widely used Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) software.

Today’s GRC challenges demand more advanced, secure, and efficient platforms. Using Excel for risk management and compliance presents drawbacks such as security issues, data inconsistencies, difficult report creation, and version management problems. However, Excel still offers valuable lessons for Governance, Risk, and Compliance management. This blog explores these lessons and how modern GRC platforms like Resolver enhance them to meet today’s compliance and risk management demands.

5 takeaways when transitioning from Excel to GRC for risk management

Enterprise GRC management encompasses a range of tasks from regulatory compliance and risk assessments to incident reporting and auditing. Microsoft Excel has been a favored tool for these functions due to its simplicity and user-friendly interface. However, moving from Excel to a specialized GRC platform can bring substantial benefits. Here are five lessons from Excel that can guide a successful transition:

1. Keep it simple

Excel’s simple user interface allows users to easily input data, create connections, and manage complex datasets, making it essential in business operations, including risk and compliance management. Transitioning to GRC software should maintain this simplicity, enhancing functionality to improve efficiency and reduce time spent on routine tasks. Resolver’s GRC platforms, as highlighted in the Forrester TEI study, can increase compliance testing efficiency by 75%, demonstrating the advantages of automation in governance.

Organizations should choose GRC software that retains Excel’s user-friendly aspects but includes:

  • Automated Workflows: Automate typical Excel-handled tasks like data entry, report generation, control testing, and compliance monitoring to reduce manual effort and error likelihood. Assigning risk owners and alerts can eliminate the need for repetitive reminders to update spreadsheets.
  • Integrated Reporting: Integrating data from various sources enhances real-time reporting, aiding in decision-making and strategic planning. Resolver users saw a 95% improvement in executive reporting efficiency.
  • No Code, No IT: Moving to a cloud-based GRC platform like Resolver alleviates concerns about needing additional IT resources for server updates or development. Users can customize the platform to meet their needs without extensive IT involvement.

Tei benefits represented as integrated grc software

2. Make it accessible

Ensuring a seamless transition from Excel to GRC software is crucial for minimizing learning curves. A key aspect of this familiarity is Excel’s grid-like layout, which makes data entry and navigation intuitive. Look for GRC solutions that adopt a similar format, allowing users to manage and analyze data with ease, facilitating quicker adoption across the organization.

Excel’s flexible graphs and reporting capabilities are essential for many users who rely on tailored reports. GRC platforms enhance this functionality by enabling users to customize dashboards and reports more easily. This ensures that stakeholders have access to real-time data and insights at their fingertips. According to the Forrester TEI study, integrating Resolver’s GRC software helped organizations improve strategic decision-making due to better data accessibility and report integration.

By maintaining an interface that feels familiar while significantly enhancing functionality, GRC platforms ensure that the transition not only introduces advanced capabilities but also retains the essential aspects of Excel that users find valuable.

3. Prioritize flexibility

Excel’s customization capabilities have served a variety of operational needs within organizations. A GRC platform should offer similar flexibility, adapting and scaling to meet changing business requirements and compliance needs. Key aspects of this include:

  • Tailored Workflows: Just as Excel allows the creation of customization capabilities for different projects, Resolver enables organizations to design and implement compliance processes tailored to their specific operational needs.
  • Handling Diverse Data Types: Excel manages a wide range of data types, making it a versatile tool. Resolver parallels this versatility by efficiently integrating and managing diverse risk and compliance data from various sources, ensuring seamless operations.
  • Adapting to Evolving Requirements: The flexibility of Excel in adapting to changing needs is mirrored in Resolver’s platform, which offers dynamic, scalable tools and no-code customization. This allows users to easily adjust and configure the system to meet changing regulations, standards, and business conditions without needing extensive technical expertise.

4. Be intuitive and easy to use

Spreadsheets are familiar and straightforward, allowing users to quickly understand and interact with large amounts of data. GRC platforms should similarly be intuitive and easy for end-users, accommodating frequent changes in roles within an organization. They must present information in a clear and accessible manner that users are accustomed to.

GRC software enhances this familiarity by offering advanced analytical tools that not only simplify data management but also provide deeper insights, improving the efficiency of compliance and risk processes. For example, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) switched from a cumbersome 75-worksheet Excel system to Resolver, significantly streamlining their risk assessment processes.

This transition reduced their reporting time by six weeks each quarter, demonstrating the efficiency gains from using intuitive, user-friendly GRC platforms. This improved system now enables FCC to complete attestation processes in just 20 minutes at the start of each quarter, with risk owners responding within eight days, ensuring timely and updated reports. This change not only saves considerable time but also enhances responsiveness to potential risks.

Download the report to learn how Resolver delivers a 95% increase in reporting efficiency. Forrester Report: The Total Economic Impact ™ of Resolver

5. Make GRC as unobtrusive as Excel

A crucial aspect of successful software adoption is how unobtrusive the software feels to its users. Microsoft Excel is a prime example of this, seamlessly blending into the daily routines of knowledge workers without feeling like an additional burden. Similarly, a GRC platform should integrate effortlessly into the existing corporate environment, enhancing productivity without disrupting established workflows.

Where Excel requires manual handling for calculations and data entry, Resolver automates these processes. This automation greatly reduces the manual workload, minimizes the chance of human error, and frees up time for employees to engage in more value-added activities. Automation ensures that GRC processes become a natural part of daily operations, just as Excel is, but with enhanced efficiency and less effort.

By streamlining integration and enhancing user experience, Resolver ensures its GRC platform is a natural extension of familiar tools, promoting widespread adoption and enhancing productivity without becoming a burden.

Go from Excel spreadsheets to GRC software with Resolver

Moving from Excel to GRC software provides valuable insights into managing compliance more efficiently and effectively. By building on the fundamental strengths of Excel and enhancing them with powerful features, Resolver’s Enterprise GRC Management solution delivers a comprehensive approach that addresses today’s challenges and prepares for future needs.

Experience how Resolver’s Enterprise GRC Management solution can transform your compliance management. By leveraging the core strengths of Excel and integrating advanced features, our solution not only meets today’s challenges but also anticipates future needs.

Request a demo today to see how our customizable workflows, enhanced security features, and comprehensive data management tools can streamline your operations and improve productivity.

This content was originally written on April 11, 2010, and updated for data and content relevancy.

Download the Forrester TEI study to uncover how Resolver delivers 327% ROI & more! Read the TEI study now!
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