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What is the single most challenging Sarbanes-Oxley issue today?

Martin Brauns

In talking with our customers, we find that many are struggling with the ever-changing regulations and overall lack of clarity surrounding longer term compliance requirements. As a result, many companies addressing the first year attestation are using largely manual approaches that are extremely costly and not repeatable. Clearly, the better alternative is to build a sustainable compliance architecture now that will significantly reduce the effort and cost associated with executing, monitoring, testing and reporting on the internal control environment over time, yet be flexible enough to adapt to the still-evolving regulatory framework.

We believe this sustainable architecture has four primary components: control analytics to manage the control framework itself, content management to facilitate and automate the policy creation and monitoring which is the primary input into the control framework, collaboration to provide auditability and transparency of compliance decisions, and records management to automate the retention and disposition of critical compliance-related content.

Today, control analytics are provided by purpose-built tools from audit firms and specialized software vendors that address the Section 404 requirements for monitoring and testing controls. Because many of these tools are not tightly integrated with the transactional systems that they monitor, there is a disconnect which necessitates constant intervention to maintain. Over the next several years, we believe that the ERP vendors will address this gap by providing control analytics that are integrated into their transactional systems.

While control analytics address the structured data upon which compliance is based, significant unstructured data requirements remain. Clearly, important business reporting and planning information is housed in spreadsheets, presentations, documents and e-mail messages. All of this content and correspondence must be captured alongside the data it supports for complete compliance. Yet doing so manually, after the fact, uses up an inordinate amount of time and resources. This is where utilizing collaborative content management coupled with records management can help the organization to significantly lower the cost of compliance and provide a sustainable architecture for meeting regulatory guidelines to come.

Of course, beyond reducing the costs of compliance, a defining characteristic of collaborative content management is its ability to add value to every day business in the form of added efficiency and visibility. For instance, let's consider the creation of quarterly and annual reports such as the 10Q  a highly iterative and cumbersome process. With collaborative content management, secure, centralized access to all relevant documents with tight version control eliminates time consuming bottlenecks and confusing e-mail strings, thereby saving time and reducing costly errors. This improvement in access and visibility facilitates the work of external auditors as well, further controlling costs and improving confidence. With automated records management applied to the underlying content to automate disposition, risk and liability are reduced as well.

Because of Sarbanes-Oxley, we see the need for an effective convergence of structured and unstructured data to provide a holistic view of the business. Interwoven is uniquely positioned to provide the tools that will make this marriage a happy and harmonious one.

Martin Brauns currently serves as Interwoven's CEO and chairman of the board, joining the Company in March 1998. During his tenure, Interwoven grew from a Silicon Valley start-up to a leader in enterprise software, with more than 2800 global customers including Air France, Cisco Systems, General Electric, General Motors, and Yamaha. Brauns led the company through a successful IPO in October 1999 and an equally successful secondary stock offering in January 2000. Brauns has been a frequent keynote and television speaker.

Prior to joining Interwoven, Brauns served as vice president of North American sales and worldwide strategic partners at Informix. Before Informix, Brauns held various sales and marketing management positions with companies including Adaptec, Wyse Technology, Librex, and National Semiconductor.

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