Study: SarbOx Software Not Taking Hold

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 09-27-2006

About 70% of finance and technology executives said their companies still aren't using a third-party software tool to help meet the financial control requirements mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, according to a survey released Wednesday by controls management software maker Approva.

The survey of 200 chief financial officers, chief information officers and heads of internal audit, conducted from Sept. 13 to 21, comes amid continued criticism and calls from top economic officials to loosen parts of the 2002 legislation.

More than seven of 10 executives queried say their firms lack a software solution that helps them conform to Sarbanes-Oxley's Section 404, which mandates tighter internal financial controls. Thirty-seven percent of the executives report that at least four-tenths of their I.T. controls are still done manually.

Read CIOInsight.com's Ed Cone on whether Sarbanes-Oxley is a burden or benefit

"When people started out on this, it smelled a lot like Y2K to them," says John Hagerty, vice president of AMR Research, referring to technical compliance requirements for companies to fix the date-related errors associated with the year 2000.

Even though most companies aren't using a compliance tool, those that are have been spending more on consulting than on actual software. That trend is changing, though, Hagerty says. In 2007, he expects companies to boost spending on technology ($1.98 billion, compared with $1.94 billion in 2006) and lower spending on professional services ($1.73 billion, down from $1.75 billion this year).

But firms that lagged on technology aren't in huge trouble, Hagerty says. "Companies that are starting to go through this now, you would think, would learn from the ones that have already gone through it," Hagerty remarked at the roundtable discussion where the survey was released.

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