In fact, cost reduction and return on investment will be the focus of SOX compliance activity in 2006. Why? Because it's time to complete the hand-off of compliance processes to IT, and IT's goal is always to drive costs out of business processes, increase performance and demonstrate ROI.
Documenting a collection of sustainable best practices is the first step in driving down costs associated with regulatory compliance. By now, organizations should have a much clearer picture of how they can best respond to the SOX requirements. If nothing else, SOX has forced everyone to examine their business processes and figure out which controls are really necessary and which controls are expensive overkill.So now it is time to implement the lessons learned by improving processes, eliminating unproductive processes, simplifying overly complex processes and identifying where IT can be brought in to automate those processes, not necessarily in that order.
When we look back like this next year, we'll see a trend that brings compliance process automation and management into the fold of business process automation and management. Companies will evolve their business processes to incorporate compliance monitoring and reporting. And this will provide a much simpler platform upon which to incorporate new requirements based on regulatory changes or internal policies.
And one other word on those cost savings. It's time to document them. I want to hear about real business savings, not the cost that could be incurred if a company was fined or sued for a regulatory or legal infraction.