MAKING SENSE OF SARBANES-OXLEY TOOLS
to package all of the audio/video components into a menu system for placement on
a CD-ROM or the Web.
Some training tools enable users to
maintain a document repository not only
of training resources, such as online
audio/video content, but also of training
guides, key articles, and other company-specific documentation. For example, the
document repository could maintain an
online and real-time updated set of company policies and procedures. The repository could also house best practice
documents for key processes.
Although the audit community has focused
most of its attention on Sarbanes-Oxley
Sections 302 and 404, the act actually contains more than 50 sections that require an
internal compliance assessment. Internal
auditors can use database software to store
pertinent information on the steps taken
by management to ensure overall compliance with each of the sections.
Auditors can either develop compliance
databases internally, using simple database
tools, or purchase pre-developed vendor
packages. The tools can be used to facilitate
access to key information on section compliance by consolidating it in one central
location. Examples of sections that might
warrant compliance documentation include
those that cover board membership, external audit services, and conflicts of interest.
Although software needs will vary from
one company to the next, some general
guidelines for selection might help to
narrow the field. Auditors may want to
consider the following criteria before
making a purchase decision.
VENDOR STABILITY Given the multitude of
Sarbanes-Oxley products currently offered,
vendor risk may be high, as some competitors could be forced out of the market. Auditors can mitigate this risk by seeking vendors
with a large user base and a long track record
of serving the audit community.
Time-honored tools, however, may not
be the best choice for every company.
Especially given that newcomers may
offer innovative approaches, auditors
should not necessarily limit their search
only to well-established products.
FLEXIBILITY Because Sarbanes-Oxley’s
underlying requirements are dynamically
changing, software should be flexible to
allow for growth. For example, Section
409 requirements on what constitutes
“rapid and current reporting” have not
yet been defined, and forthcoming clarifications could affect any tool that facilitates reporting in this context. Auditors
should determine the extent to which
prospective vendors have considered the
possibility of changes to the act’s provisions and find out whether their software will be able to meet future needs.
To further maximize their investment,
internal auditors may want to consider software that can facilitate audit activities
beyond Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, such
as performing entity-wide risk assessments
and assessing the overall control environment. Auditors should also keep in mind
that some vendors are starting to create
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FEBRUARY 2004 INTERNAL AUDITOR