Did you know that 76% of enterprises lack a clearly defined enterprise IT risk assessment and management strategy? As a result, it’s challenging to get your executive team to buy into your risk management program. 

The hurdle for most companies is nailing down an approach. Do you know the board game Risk? In the Risk game, the goal is simple—you’re out to conquer the world. Players vanquish their enemies with the roll of the dice. But the game can be lengthy and complicated, eating up several hours or even days of your time!

While less fun than the iconic board game, enterprise IT risk assessments are similar. The good news is there are rules, strategies and best practices that guarantee a clear path to victory.

So, even if you don’t use Tugboat Logic, we’ve created this practical list of tips and tricks to support you on your compliance journey.


What Is an Enterprise IT Risk Assessment?

Risk Assessments are mandatory for passing audits and protecting your business from serious threats. They highlight areas where you’re adequately performing, suss out where you’re exposed and guide you in outlining your audit scope. In addition, a risk assessment enables you to be proactive in planning and implementing risk mitigation strategies. 

A comprehensive enterprise IT risk assessment is required to comply with  SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST CSF and other security standards or industry best practices.

But you set yourself up to win by simply identifying and treating financial, reputational, operational, legal and regulatory risks. It sets your path to conquer the world!

Common Enterprise IT Risk Assessment Struggles

Risk assessors have a big job. There’s a lot of pressure to roll the dice and advance quickly. But there’s some common enterprise IT risk assessment battles that can get in the way, including:

  • Understanding how to conduct a risk assessment
  • Correctly identifying relevant risks 
  • Defining breadth of business exposure
  • When to begin and complete the risk assessment
  • Tackling the risk assessment at the last minute and running out of time

Not performing a risk assessment or conducting an incomplete risk assessment can delay the completion of your certification or cause you to fail a compliance audit altogether. However, completing an assessment correctly can save you money and headaches down the road because spotting obstacles before they become a problem is the best approach to avoid system glitches and deter data breaches.


4 Steps of an Enterprise IT Risk Assessment

  1. Establish your risk criteria: Determine your compliance goals, security objectives and the key indicators to measure and evaluate your exposure. Decide when you need to run a risk assessment, like at the beginning of a new project or every quarter. Whatever the case, make sure to document your criteria so that your team understands when to kickstart the process.
  2. Defining your project scope: The whole point of a scope is to identify how an event might impact your business’s security objectives, like protecting customer data against threats and vulnerabilities. In a top-down risk assessment, you need to identify your strategic objectives. For example, meeting any security commitments you’ve made to customers. Chances are you’ll have plenty. Be sure to list them all. Interviewing management, data owners and other employees is helpful. But don’t forget to analyze your systems and infrastructure and review documentation across different functional areas.
  3. Identifying your risks: Enterprise organizations have plenty of IT risks across almost every function. So before assembling your risk committee, put together a list of risks associated with your organization’s strategic objectives. These are intended as prompts to encourage discussion between your team. Risk workshops can take 3 – 5 days, so anything you can do to streamline the process will help. Explore your people, processes, information and technologies to seek out potential causes of harm. Observe your industry, competitors and regulatory bodies. Define who might be harmed, what events could trigger this harm and their likely consequences. 
  4. Assessing your risks: Once you’ve gathered data points from all relevant stakeholders, it’s time to evaluate your risks. You’ll calculate the rating of each risk by multiplying impact by likelihood. And once you’ve assessed each risk, you’ll understand which you need to prioritize first. Make sure you’re using the same methodology across your organization to quantify a risk’s potential impact and likelihood.

When establishing your risk assessment, standardizing the processes, assessment criteria and scales used for assessing your business risk throughout the organization using documentation (i.e., document your findings) and developing assessment templates is crucial. Doing so enables quicker risk assessment iterations, reviews and updates.


5 Tricks to Be Thorough:

  1. Brainstorm the probability of various catastrophic events, even if they seem silly. 
  2. Think pessimistically by planning for the worst while expecting the best. Think long and short term.
  3. Seek employee feedback! Upper management’s perspective of an organization’s risk can be starkly different from employees’ perspectives as part of their day-to-day activities.
  4. Be realistic about financial resources. Risk assessments and management are costly.
  5. Be honest about your human resources. ​​The digital threat landscape is constantly changing. Can your workforce handle more? Should you hire a new person? Or, does outsourcing the project make the most sense?

6 Tips for Conducting an Enterprise IT Risk Assessment

  1. Streamline your IT risk assessment process using a top-down instead of a bottom-up approach. This allows you to focus on what matters to your business. 
  2. IT risk assessments can be thorough without being complicated. All risk assessments follow the same general formula. Establish, define the scope, identify and assess. 
  3. Build your IT risk assessment criteria and outline events inside your organization that will require a risk assessment. 
  4. Before you conduct the assessment, take the time to define your project scope thoroughly because your strategic objectives ensure your organization’s long-term success. 
  5. Identifying risks for an IT risk assessment is not a game of solitaire. It’s a team sport. An enterprise organization has plenty of IT risks across almost every function. You don’t have a 360-degree view of your business. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  6. When conducting an enterprise IT risk assessment and evaluating risks, the same methodology must apply across your organization. Otherwise, you could end up with inconsistent results.


Start Selling More Today 

The roll of the dice determines a lot in the board game Risk, but so do strategy and intelligent tactical decisions. The same is true of enterprise IT risk assessments. Even if you don’t use Tugboat Logic, these tips and tricks will help you build a stronger and more tactical assessment and intelligent InfoSec program. Our Labs team, which has over a hundred years of combined experience in information security governance, risk and compliance, is here to help you master the art of enterprise IT risk assessments. However, we understand that you may want to tackle enterprise IT risk assessments independently. We’re happy to provide you with tips and tricks because safer data benefits everyone. Contact us if you have any questions.


How Tugboat Logic Can Help

Tackling enterprise IT risk assessments is quicker and more straightforward with Tugboat Logic software. With years of experience running internal audits and risk management programs at enterprise businesses just like yours, our in-house team of ex-auditors and consultants put all their knowledge into our platform. As a result, the top-down methodology we recommend has been built into our information security assurance solution. Our solution also has the advantage of making executive buy-in simple, creating a more effective risk management practice across your team.

Risk assessment scoping can take hours—sometimes longer. But Tugboat Logic’s risk survey generates a list of risks specific to your business in minutes and connects them to your controls. Which saves you time and resources without compromising quality.

With Tugboat Logic, we’ve standardized everything for you. We also make it possible for you to customize criteria and apply standards to your preferences.

Are you interested in turning your security and compliance program into a business advantage? Get a free trial or contact one of our representatives at


PS: Want to streamline risk identification and conduct better assessments, faster? Download The Art of the Enterprise IT Risk Assessment and learn how to get executive buy-in and create a more effective risk management practice across your team and organization.

The Art of the Enterprise IT Risk Assessment