Sarbanes-Oxley (“SOX”) had its 16th birthday at the end of July. They say time flies when you are having fun! Over the course of its existence, SOX has evolved from what was once a bottoms-up, “what could go wrong” approach to a more focused top-down, risk-based approach that focuses on establishing controls that makes sense for the business meanwhile addressing SOX requirements. While many companies have “right-sized” their SOX programs, there still seem to be a lot of companies who do not leverage available tools to help automate and enhance their SOX activities.
It is amazing to see how many large, public companies still rely on Microsoft Office tools to manage their SOX programs. There are many SOX management platforms available on the market and each have their pros and cons. The best platforms streamline documentation updates, automate many aspects of the document request and test processes, and provide access to real-time reporting.
Our clients who manage SOX through an automated platform, coupled with an optimized control environment, have realized eye-opening time savings in executing their SOX programs. We’ve included below two major benefits realized through leveraging tech with your SOX program.
On average the amount of time it takes to update process documentation is reduced by approximately 30% as changes in one document will carry through to all documents, such as a change in the centralized risk and control matrix is reflected in flowcharts/narratives and into testing documents. Savings on testing alone average 1 ½ to 2 hours per control on an annual basis. Additionally, many platforms provide access to real-time reporting that helps to automate required periodic communication throughout the organization, as well as the Audit Committee. Time saved through automation correlates to additional capacity for value-added activities, such as expanding the breadth and value of internal audit activities.
While time savings can present a tangible ROI on investment, there are a multitude of other benefits realized from leveraging an automated platform.
Documentation Consistency & shareability
A major benefit is the ability to have linked documentation and testing documents; this ensures consistency within documents, and forces consistency organizationally throughout all business units. A cloud-based solution also provides an avenue to easily share documents with business owners, external auditors, or regulators as necessary thus reducing time spent finding, compiling, and sending documentation (and double checking it is the most up-to-date version). Additionally, many vendors offer supplementary tools that work with or integrate with existing financial reporting, risk management, internal audit management, and regulatory tools. This integration reduces the likelihood of duplicative effort spent on often overlapping tasks and reporting in your organization.
So, what are next steps?
There are many vendors that offer automated SOX solutions. The right tool for you is dependent on your organizational structure, number of controls and control owners, your existing technologies, and your strategic roadmap (acquisitions, major infrastructure changes).
Clearview is a certified implementation partner for Workiva’s WDesk solution. Based on our evaluation of SOX tools on the market, and their position as the market leader in the SOX technology space we determined that Workiva is the best fit for a large portion of our current and prospective clients. We would be happy to help you assess your current SOX program and discuss the benefits of moving to an automated SOX solution.
With questions, contact Scott Freinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.