Movaris has announced the general availability of Certainty 9, the latest version of its suite of financial control and compliance software. The package is designed to improve the performance of finance organizations through more efficient, consistent and reliable execution of basic processes and to satisfy today’s stringent requirements for financial statements. As U.S. public companies strive to create sustainable processes for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Ventana Research advises them to find software solutions that will support these efforts while also enhancing their day-to-day execution of finance functions.
Timeliness, truthfulness and transparency should be the basic objectives of any public company’s financial statements. Having completed initial compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404, leading companies are finding unexpected dividends in the mandated shift from informal controls to formal ones. Automating and enhancing the control of financial processes and eliminating needless complexity will cut the operating costs of any finance department. Careful attention to lapses of control through ongoing monitoring and reporting should prevent many small frauds or errors from going undetected. Doing these things well will reduce both internal and external audit costs. Moreover, automation and enhanced control should speed the production and review of financial statements – an important consideration given the shorter reporting intervals the SEC now requires. We see this as the thinking behind the Certainty 9 offering.
Certainty is a suite of applications from seven-year-old, Silicon Valley-based Movaris Inc. It is designed to make corporate financial control systems more effective and address Sarbanes-Oxley requirements more efficiently. The latest release adds four new modules that broadly support financial controls and specifically support compliance requirements for Sarbanes-Oxley Sections 404 and 302.
Efficient, sustainable compliance requires doing many small things consistently well, such as quickly spotting and resolving control exceptions, assigning priorities for corrective measures and then ensuring they are addressed in a timely manner. Certainty builds in 26 key compliance and control performance measures to analyze how well the company is controlling its operations. It also detects anomalies and sends alerts when conditions merit. For example, if Certainty sees something suspicious in a new vendor account, it immediately notifies those responsible. Not only does it track the roles, responsibilities, routing and reporting needed to automate these compliance steps, it also ensures a response to events so that issues requiring an individual’s attention are addressed.
Certainty’s Close Manager should enable companies to reduce the risk of mistakes (and fraud) in this most vulnerable part of the accounting cycle. It facilitates internal and external audits of the close. Better still, we believe that most finance departments will find they can use the software to cut the time and effort they spend on the closing process. Moreover, companies have the option of using their existing business intelligence infrastructure and reporting tools, or they can simplify deployment by using built-in data storage and reporting capabilities.
Ventana Research believes companies should look at superior financial process execution as the way to sustain efficient Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. In other words, achieving business value from more efficient and effective processes should be the long-term objective of SOX initiatives.
Sarbanes-Oxley compliance software offerings are evolving rapidly as user requirements mature. With Certainty 9, Movaris is a strong contender in the market. We expect companies offering comprehensive solutions to take leadership in this software category. In our judgment, software companies that focus on business benefits, like Movaris, are more likely to have a sustainable business over the long run, when Sarbanes-Oxley compliance wanes as a specific motivator for buying the software. While ERP vendors offer some elements in common with comprehensive compliance software, they typically confine themselves to transaction flows and not to complex downstream processes such as financial closing.
Understandably, most companies were reluctant to buy and implement new software at the start of their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts before they understood what they would need to do. Today, however, Ventana Research thinks U.S. public companies should investigate software packages that will help lower their compliance costs by managing process execution, control and documentation. We advise companies to consider and evaluate compliance software not just on how it helps them adhere to SEC and auditor requirements, but on how well it reduces the cost of managing their more formal control environments.
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