With the first Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance deadlines just seven months away, Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. have introduced software to automate publicly held companies compliance processes.
Microsofts Office Solution Accelerator for Sarbanes-Oxley, rolled out last week, provides best-practice guidelines and templates for documenting processes using Microsofts Windows SharePoint Services and Office InfoPath 2003 products.
Office Solution Accelerator for Sarbanes-Oxley is one of the first products available under a larger compliance initiative from Microsoft, officials said. The Redmond, Wash., company also has plans to offer document and e-mail retention solutions by working with third-party software developers that build on Microsofts Windows Storage Server 2003 product.
Each Office Solution Accelerator is designed to help develop a solution to a problem. Such problems might include streamlining recruiting functions, consolidating administrative tasks, creating customized reports or writing proposals.
Separately, Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., late last month released ICM (Internal Controls Manager) Version 2, a component of Oracle E-Business Suite. The new version aims to speed the automation of business processes and internal controls so companies can more easily comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations, Oracle officials said. For instance, Version 2 adds support for regional or business unit requirements when standardizing business processes. This version can also assign objectives to business processes while identifying risks that may occur as part of those objectives.
This version features distributed certification of financial statements and the internal and disclosure controls they rely on, allowing process owners to certify and document issues where they occur. This "segregation of duties" is a key feature, said ICM Version 1 user Aaron Sager, because it allows for a more complete assessment of processes.
Sager, manager of business systems at ViaSat Inc., also said he likes the upgrades improved ability to show users the risks associated with particular processes.
"ICM allows you to associate processes with risks and gives you higher-level views and [tells you] what processes and risks are in certain accounts and where theyre mitigated through controls," said Sager in Carlsbad, Calif.
Sager said that while other compliance offerings have similar technology, none offers the kind of built-in integration to Oracle financial and business applications that ICM does.
Smaller developers are also addressing Sarbanes-Oxley. Ilog Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., last week announced its Data Solutions Accelerator, a collection of technologies and services used in combination with Ilogs JRules business rules management software. The new offering includes compliance-specific business rule language templates and modeling tools, reporting and auditing features, and access to best practices developed by Ilogs professional services team.