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An Enterprise Approach to Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance

By Lauren Milligan

As the tide of corporate scandals and accounting irregularities begins to ebb, executives and financial managers alike are now faced with the task of adjusting to a new set of rules and demands from stockholders and the market at-large.

The law that resulted from the public outcry to the fraudulent activities of some of the country’s largest corporations is named after the two people who sponsored this landmark legislation: Senator Paul Sarbanes from Maryland and Representative Michael Oxley from Ohio. Its had a
dramatic effect on both public and privately held companies. Industry analysts are comparing its impact to past Y2K projects. Everyone seems to have a solution—consultants, software vendors, and publishers. Companies are rushing to market Sarbanes-Oxley products in an attempt to
capitalize on the near-panic that some companies are experiencing. And they all have their own spin on how to solve this problem—the magic elixir that will take care of everything.

Against this backdrop, companies are being forced to take an even closer look at their internal operations. They are examining internal controls to determine if they have the ability to detect and take action on financial anomalies before the fiscal period ends. They are creating huge databases to store communication records as proof of their diligence, attention to detail, and their reactions to key business issues. And they are looking to their IT infrastructure to help them gain insight into their business not only to comply with shortened reporting requirements, but for assurance that the data they are analyzing and reporting is, to borrow a phrase, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

But as is generally the case with such a far-reaching issue as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the approach that provides the quick fix or rapid return on investment (ROI) is often too good to be true. Leading companies recognize this and are taking a more strategic approach to ensuring their
numbers measure up to the increased scrutiny of today’s investor. They are using this law not as something that just needs a quick fix, but as an opportunity to take a look at processes and restructure the way they run their business. What’s more, they are finding that they already have
a lot of what they need in their company—the right people, the right processes, and the right technology. In this paper, we’ll explore the ways in which business intelligence (BI) and Business Objects can play a key role in this strategy.
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