Why You Need a Holistic GRC Solution for Your SAP Ecosystem – and Beyond

By Yash Prakash, VP of Products, Saviynt

Achieving regulatory compliance and securing business critical applications such as SAP have been a daunting task for organizations. The first generation of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions are neither designed to meet the future needs arising from technologies such as S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform nor able to integrate with non-SAP applications in your IT environment.

The primary issue stems from the different security models used by SAP in its product line. The traditional SAP applications use the older concept of roles, transaction codes and authorization objects to manage access. In contrast, its newer platforms, most notably the SAP S/4HANA, use different types of privileges and roles to control access to the data.

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Compound that lack of clarity by adding other applications that make up the SAP ecosystem that may include such SAP-acquired technologies, including Success Factors and integrated travel and expense management system Concur, and then combine that with your organization’s other non-SAP applications and infrastructure, like Salesforce, Office 365 and AWS, among many others, and your GRC challenges become overwhelming — unless you move to a holistic solution that handles all of these different security models.

The Need for That Universal Solution

SAP’s own GRC solution is a good option to meet your compliance requirements if you are an SAP-only shop. But it will not be effective with your other non-SAP applications and probably requires you to use other solutions to oversee the rest of your IT ecosystem.

Similarly, GRC applications designed to support applications and platforms from other vendors will focus on the technologies they are primarily designed to support. This leads to the reliance on a plethora of point solutions that address problems specific to the software they are supporting.

You might assume these many point solutions can be cobbled together to come up with an overall GRC solution, but really, you’ll end up with a solution that resembles Frankenstein’s monster. The latter might look nominally like a human being, but the pieces, both physical and emotional, don’t play well together.

If you insist on relying on a collection of point solutions to manage your risk, you put your organization at greater risk for a data breach. You lack visibility into your ecosystem as well as set of universal controls to ensure governance across your hybrid IT infrastructure. You risk not finding that issues for days, weeks or even months, which could lead to loss of intellectual property, violations of industry regulations and additional oftentimes catastrophic damage. If you don’t know what you don’t know, you cannot fix what could be wrong.

Instead you need a solution that is ubiquitous and universal, that provides insight into your overall ecosystem so that you can find gaps in your security and compliance profile, regardless of the security model being used by a given application. Because security models vary so much among different applications and platforms, even just within SAP itself, getting insight into your infrastructure as a single entity is critical.

Continuous Compliance and Proactive Security

A holistic GRC solution not only supplies visibility across your entire ecosystem to root out any vulnerabilities or gaps in your security and compliance posture, it enables the ability to establish universal controls, including:

  • The ability to define security and business rules
  • Automated role design and creation
  • Role and privilege provisioning
  • Real-time violation checks
  • Continuous controls monitoring
  • Usage analytics

These and the many other features a holistic GRC solution can provide also enables you to move from the reactive “checkbox compliance” mindset to a proactive security mindset. It helps you to focus on securing your systems to thwart data breaches and facilitate quick remediation in the event a breach does take place.

Moreover, this type of solution, which tracks data across your entire ecosystem, provides you with the ability to monitor your compliance and security posture on a continuum, giving you insight into what’s happening in real time and the ability to compare that insight to baselines of activity over time. And establishing that proactive security and continuous compliance framework is crucial in today’s threat environment — regardless of whether you’re an SAP shop or a (more typical) IT organization where SAP is just one of the many vendors you use.