Sarbanes-Oxley and a raft of other compliance initiatives are fast becoming part of the process landscape for larger organizations. Now that most of the taxonomy, process flows and new documentation are becoming business as usual, Ventana Research believes attention will focus on compliance management processes. We recommend organizations leverage event management and real time collaboration to make these processes faster, cheaper and better.
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) projects in large organizations are costly and resource intensive. Research has indicated they can costs millions of dollars to implement and directly involve hundreds of internal and external stakeholders. SOX projects also involve the introduction of new technology and new ways of leveraging existing technology. The "appliance of compliance" has created new and revised processes that can benefit from Performance Management like any other.
Compliance event management (CEM) recognizes part of the cost of compliance lies in efficient issue resolution. SOX projects if only because they are characterized by evolving legislation, taxonomy, processes and documentation formats throw up a lot of issues, which need to be resolved quickly due to finite deadlines implicit in SOX legislation. If these issues can be resolved faster, cheaper and better than the performance of the compliance, process will improve.
There are two kinds of technologies that can help with CEM. The first is at the process level, which recognizes and communicates process events. The second, at the collaboration level, helps compliance team members respond to events, either process-centric or not. Here we are concerned with the latter and the use of real-time collaboration (RTC) technology, which in practice boils down to online presence detection, instant messaging, online content sharing and web conferencing.
Using RTC technology means that as a compliance event arises, it can be dealt with faster than waiting for responses to emails or participation in compliance portals. It means online conversations about an issue can start in context by sharing a specific document or current desktop as a start point for the conversation. And it means travel costs can be reduced because compliance team meetings and trainings are held online and archived for replay to new team members.
IBM, Microsoft and a host of specialty vendors such as WeBex, offer the kind of RTC offerings that can raise the performance of compliance processes. However, the key to RTC technology improving CEM lies in its ability to integrate with applications that are actually used to manage SOX processes and documentation. For example, few RTC applications are well integrated with the current generation of SOX compliance management portals.
Ventana Research believes as SOX compliance processes become business as usual for larger organizations, attention will inevitably focus on improving the performance of these processes as part of the emerging compliance management domain. Although the number of compliance events is likely to diminish over time, compliance deadlines and the distributed nature of SOX compliance teams mean managing these events efficiently will continue to be a challenge for some years to come. By applying RTC technology to the SOX compliance process, compliance teams could raise their game by benefiting from travel cost reductions as well as faster resolution of compliance issues to prevent project milestone creep from threatening their ability to meet SOX deadlines.
Eric Rogge is VP & Research Director - Business Intelligence & Performance Management at Ventana Research (www.ventanaresearch.com), a research and advisory