Automating Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance

HandySoft, Plumtree roll out solution to help companies meet new reporting requirements

Mesa, AZ — May 29, 2003 — Business process management (BPM) specialist HandySoft Corp. has partnered with enterprise portal provider Plumtree Software to roll out a new solution designed to help publicly traded companies comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 — and perhaps improve their overall business processes while they're at it.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is the cornerstone of U.S. federal regulators' financial accounting reform and attempts to protect investors by holding executives of public companies directly accountable for any misrepresentation of a company's financial information. Publicly-traded companies with a market capitalization of $75 million or more will have to comply with these new regulations by June 2004, while smaller companies and foreign-owned companies have until April 2005 to comply.

HandySoft said that the new Sarbanes-Oxley Accelerator solution combines its BizFlow BPM platform with collaboration, search and a personalized portal experience from Plumtree's Enterprise Web Suite. The solution is intended to give each member of the extended accounting team a personalized view of the compliance process based on his or her responsibilities.

For example, account teams can collect and document financial evidence, submit account information into a defined workflow through electronic forms, collaborate on documentation and receive assigned tasks, while internal and external auditors can monitor compliance, drill down into supporting evidence and review reports, policies and procedures to identify any gaps with regulation.

Controllers can use the solution to manage the planning, testing and reviewing of internal controls, identify and resolve issues in process or documentation, review and approve documentation, and assign tasks. Executives, boards of directors and audit committees can access the breadth of information needed to attest to the effectiveness of internal financial controls, review the audit status reports or a timeline of tasks in real-time, and drill-down into supporting details, according to HandySoft.

According to AMR Research's May 2003 report "CIOs: There Is a Sarbanes-Oxley Project in Your Future—Do You Know What It Is?", "61 percent of companies expect business process change will be required [to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley legislation]." Many public companies are using technology to automate the enforcement of financial rules and processes to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

However, some analysts are suggesting that companies can also take advantage of their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance efforts to reap broader benefits as they evaluate, improve, automate and strictly enforce business and financial processes.

"Most enterprises should take a step further than 'just complying' with Sarbanes-Oxley," said Debra Logan, analyst with Gartner Research. "If you must keep certain records for the purposes of Sarbanes-Oxley, don't stop there. Most enterprises have huge content management problems, uncontrolled explosions of e-mail and lack of policy and procedure around many document-based processes. Take advantage of this forced opportunity to roll out document and records management software and procedures to gain business efficiency as well, rather than just using it to reduce the risk of noncompliance."

Stuart Claggett, chief operating officer of HandySoft, asserted that the Sarbanes-Oxley Accelerator would help companies improve their overall audit quality and provide them with the flexibility to deal with future regulations and the management of ongoing financial process improvement.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Accelerator is expected to be available in June from both companies, offered as a standalone solution or as an add-on to existing HandySoft or Plumtree products.