A process of improvement

How many processes does your company have? A simple question if your firm has
documented them all as part of meeting Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. But ensuring
actual compliance? That’s another matter.

So who’s going to help minimise the time the nasty auditors spend going
through all those processes? You guessed it. Business software companies can
help you meet your compliance needs, they plead.

This time, though, they have a point. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Anton
Ruddenklau revealed that one US company he worked with on Sarbox documented
88,000 processes. As he pointed out, it takes an auditor around five hours of
billable time to test each one.

So what can technology do to help ease this pain? Firstly, many processes can
be automated. The more the degree of automation, the quicker that processes can
be checked and the stronger the process will appear to the auditor.

For processes that require the intervention of mere humans, there are
products providing workflow technology. These help manage it on a day-to-day
basis, and provide the auditor with a clear and easy view of the process itself.

But Oracle UK finance director Norman Green warns: ‘While IT certainly holds
the key to easing the compliance burden and facilitating more transparent
reporting, it’s important that firms use technology to improve and streamline
existing processes rather than automate what they’re already doing.’

His point? Improve processes ­ then look to IT.

Kevin Reed is technology correspondent for Accountancy Age

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