Oracle’s Internal Controls Manager version 2, launched last week, is designed to help organisations comply with financial regulations by monitoring business processes and automating controls.
One new feature offers protection to chief executives and chief financial officers who have to sign off accounts under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which exposes them to legal liabilities.
This feature breaks down financial statements into a number of processes, each signed off by the individual process owner and auditor. ‘In this respect, chief executives and CFOs are not certifying blind, but with the knowledge that the financial statements have been built up under internal processes,’ said Michelle Maden, head of finance and compliance solutions at Oracle UK.
The first version of ICM, released last July, focused on helping firms to document their processes to comply with regulations. The latest version adds automation and certification features. Firms can embed automated controls into their business processes, to help them identify and mitigate potential risks.
‘So a firm might have a process to manage payment with control steps such as approval limits,’ said Maden. ‘The system can put controls in place to highlight where a manager is getting close to their approval limit.’
The product – part of the Oracle E-Business Suite – was developed in the wake of financial scandals at Enron and WorldCom, and the subsequent introduction of regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the new Combined Code in the UK.
‘The key issue is to make the investment world a safer place and to get firms to have better control over their environment,’ said Maden.
The EC published a proposal earlier this month for new auditing rules, similar to those of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to give shareholders more confidence in the accuracy of audited corporate accounts.
Although the proposal requires approval from the European Parliament and Council of Europe, analyst firm Gartner warned that the introduction of an EU auditing directive is inevitable. It said firms would need to set up independent audit committees to liaise directly with external auditors, bypassing company directors.
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