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

Barry Litwin
President and CEO
Hummingbird Ltd

The real Sarbanes-Oxley challenge for publicly-traded companies is the additional level of introspection and process review needed to demonstrate that legally-mandated corporate governance programs have been established.

Organizations outside of traditional regulated industries have had to embark upon unfamiliar reviews of existing business processes in order to understand how information is created, reviewed and disseminated both internally and externally.

Many companies are currently struggling to shift from what were traditionally ad-hoc business processes into an environment in which the creation of a repeatable framework for information flow is required. Such a framework facilitates the design of structured procedures, demands review and approval from key executives, and helps ensure appropriate and accurate disclosure as part of a renewed commitment to corporate transparency mandates.

Many organizations are trying to determine which of their internal processes need to be strengthened and documented to address these new regulations.

Sarbanes-Oxley was a specific legislative move to ensure that corporations could be trusted to reveal accurate and timely financial information in order to rebuild investor trust.

Internal review and assessment programs established by many publicly-traded companies as part of a Sarbanes-Oxley compliance initiative has led them to think beyond Sarbanes-Oxley in the light of their total corporate governance and risk mitigation mandates.

Organizations have been given the opportunity to refine and capture business processes in a structured and often automated approach. A renewed understanding of the source, format and origin of financial information and the way in which it is created, revised and used can give organizations a new view of how knowledge flows in and out of the company.

Organizations need to ensure that sensitive information is appropriately secured, circulated with controls, and tracked throughout its legally mandated lifecycle regardless of whether it resides in physical, electronic document or email form.

Organizations that take the opportunity to use their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance as a springboard towards an overall information management infrastructure program will see tangible benefits that extend beyond the specifics of SOX.

Improvements to customer service, internal communications, better retention of corporate knowledge during periods of staff turnover and ensuring rapid compliance with privacy or other new mandates are all critical spin-off benefits to an overall enterprise approach to information management.

They will benefit from a corporate culture of improved transparency and integrity, thereby engendering greater trust from their business partners and customers.

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