SOX compliance technology trends for 2017
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) brought significant changes to financial reporting, ICFR, and disclosure requirements nearly 15 years ago. Although these requirements have been around for some time, changing regulatory standards and evolving PCAOB requirements for increased documentation have upped pressure on SOX compliance and internal control teams. In the SOX & Internal Controls Professionals Group 2016 State of the SOX/Internal Controls Market Survey, eighty percent of respondents reported improving the efficiency of the SOX function as their top priority for 2017.
A significant trend that we see accelerating throughout 2017 is the adoption of cloud technology for managing ICFR processes. Traditional desktop tools and legacy GRC platforms can't keep up with changing requirements and process transformation expected from finance leaders. While the cloud has been a significant technology shift for compliance and audit professionals, many organizations are stuck in the past using desktop tools or decade old technology to manage control testing and documentation.
With the right technology foundation, SOX and audit teams can simplify this complex and lengthy process. As you look to modernize and select the right controls management solution for your company, make sure it offers:
- A single source of truth
Ensure consistency of risk and control documentation throughout the internal controls process by connecting text and control identification, risks, and testing information. When an update is made to data at the source, that change should be instantly reflected across process narratives, process flows, testing documents, dashboards, and audit committee presentations.
- Complete collaboration and control
Eliminate the problem of disparate information, siloed across the organization, by bringing all users—including process and control owners and internal and external auditors—together in a single platform. A central repository for all risk and control information provides security, the ability to manage who can see and edit information, and a complete audit trail of all changes.
- Flexibility to add, connect, and update risk and control information throughout the process
Make sure controls can be added and updated without disrupting the entire SOX compliance process or increasing IT overhead. The right solution will mold to your process, not force you to adapt yours.
- Dynamic reports and dashboards to view data the way you want to view it
Stakeholders should be able to customize dashboards and create personalized and ad hoc reports to view data the way that they want to view it. Make better business decisions and improve transparency with real-time status dashboards with drill-down capabilities and customized views.
- A simplified testing process with advanced workflow
Annotate evidence and complete review and approval in a single location. Make sure updates are made automatically to testing sheets to remove manual steps, flipping back and forth between documents. Use visual indicators to gauge the health of the process and view real-time status of all testing.
- Automated certifications
Companies need to establish repeatable steps for an efficient process. Leverage a solution with templates, reminders, and dashboards to meet deadlines and improve compliance. Signers should be able to conveniently respond on both desktop and mobile devices.
Workiva created a modern SOX solution that connects documents, data, and people in new and powerful ways. The Wdesk platform is collaborative, powerful, and intuitive and is delivered on a flexible, scalable, and secure cloud environment. Some vendors in the market claim to be the #1 SOX solution or the #1 financial reporting solution on the market. However, the numbers simply speak for themselves. Wdesk is used by more than 2,700 organizations worldwide for financial reporting , regulatory reporting, or SOX compliance processes.
To learn more SOX compliance trends for 2017, download this white paper Compliance and the Cloud: Reaping the Benefits and What You Need to Succeed.
About the Author
Mike Rost is a key contributor to product strategy at Workiva and works with business leaders in the areas of financial reporting and compliance. With more than 25 years of experience assisting organizations using technology to optimize business processes, Mike has an extensive background in finance and accounting, corporate performance management, and GRC technology. Mike was a founding member of XBRL International with involvement in the XBRL initiative dating back to 1999. He has also been active in industry associations, including the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Mike has a bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Minnesota.