5 Tips to Meet IT SOX Compliance Requirements
SOX compliance is a very real component of the risk management landscape for publicly-held companies in all business sectors and industries. Introduced in 2002, SOX – formally known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act – is among the few corporate regulatory burdens that can lead to imprisonment, particularly in cases involving willful non-compliance. That comes in addition to monetary fines and potentially irreparable damage to a company or brand’s public image.
The high-stakes nature of SOX compliance makes it a key consideration in an organization’s risk management strategy. Yet many organizations struggle to achieve this form of regulatory compliance, particularly when it comes to IT-related aspects. Companies are strictly held to a high degree of transparency. What’s more, a number of data management and governance measures must be implemented in conjunction with comprehensive auditing capabilities if a company is going to be successful in its SOX reporting and audits. Fortunately, there are a number of tricks and tips to meet IT SOX compliance requirements.
What is IT SOX Compliance?
To achieve IT SOX compliance and avoid fines, publicly-held companies must submit annual financial reports with comprehensive audits and evidence of honest, accurate, and transparent financial dealings. SOX legislation was passed on the heels of numerous high-profile bank scandals that occurred in the early 2000s. As such, SOX was intended to promote a sense of accountability and transparency that did not exist previously.
In addition to good SOX-friendly practices and governance, a company’s IT department must maintain a data management platform that allows for secure yet transparent data access and data handling practices. Achieving this – and SOX compliance in general – can be extremely challenging, especially at scale as is required for larger corporations.
Tip #1: Collaborate With IT to Develop Protocols and Policies
Leaders from within the IT department must collaborate with representatives from other divisions to develop and deploy policies, procedures, and protocols for data access, data security, and other aspects of data management. The overarching objective here is to prevent data theft, data loss, and other events that result in data compromise.
Once finalized, these data management policies and protocols must be documented and distributed across the organization.
SOX requires businesses to monitor and restrict access to financial data and other sensitive information. The general rule is that individuals are only afforded access to the data that is required to perform their job duties – nothing more and nothing less. Data modification capabilities must also be closely monitored and controlled if a company is to be SOX compliant.
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Tip #2: Involve IT in the Development of SOX Compliance Training Sessions
Once a company has developed a set of SOX-related data management policies and protocols, proper deployment is essential. This usually requires employee training sessions to ensure that everyone is apprised of the proper protocols and procedures. Understanding the importance of compliance can also help with user buy-in.
IT department involvement is critical to the success of these training sessions. IT admins and other leaders from this division are well-versed in the measures that are in place and how they impact users as they attempt various activities related to data access and data management. This means that IT professionals are ideally positioned to help develop training materials that will resonate with users while also reinforcing the most important key take-home points.
Tip #3: Appoint IT Admins to the Company’s SOX Compliance Committee
A company really needs a task force or committee in place if they are going to be successful in its attempts to meet IT SOX compliance requirements. Data management is a key component of the equation. Therefore, it is prudent to involve leaders from the IT division because they will have the ability to offer important insights and information that may otherwise be overlooked. IT leadership will also play a critical role in planning audits and organizing strategic responses to the ever-changing SOX reporting and auditing requirements.
Tip #4: Engage IT Leaders in SOX Risk Assessment and Remediation Efforts
A company’s technology is dynamic and so too are the requirements for SOX compliance. This necessitates periodic risk assessments to ensure that a business is operating in a manner that is fully compliant. If an issue is detected, the SOX compliance task force can meet to strategize for the development and deployment of a remediation plan. IT leaders must be engaged in these assessment and remediation efforts since the organization’s technology is virtually always involved.
Tracking the deployment of remediation measures can be challenging, although this is one area where risk management software can be extremely beneficial. IT SOX compliance software and other risk management platforms commonly include project management-type features that allow for tracking of remediation efforts. In fact, this dovetails with our fifth tip on the use of IT SOX software to aid in a company’s compliance efforts.
Tip #5: Use IT SOX Compliance Software
IT SOX compliance software offers a number of advantages to companies that are seeking to achieve and maintain a complaint status. These software systems can be integrated with ERP platforms, CRMs, and other enterprise software solutions to streamline and centralize the audits and reporting that are necessary for achieving IT SOX compliance.
Integration aside, IT SOX compliance software also typically includes a dashboard that delivers a bird’s eye view of an organization’s various data sources. This is advantageous in terms of monitoring for and identifying issues that could lead to non-compliance – non-compliance that may otherwise go unrealized until the time when a company begins the auditing and reporting process.
Additionally, a regulatory compliance software platform for SOX can centralize network performance information, alongside essential security metrics such as firewall status. This aids IT admins as they strive to maintain a digital environment that is conducive to SOX compliance.
An IT SOX software system brings many benefits to companies that are struggling to achieve or maintain SOX compliance. The team at iTech specializes in developing innovative and user-friendly risk management software solutions. Our expert team works with each client to achieve a full understanding of their regulatory compliance needs and other risk management challenges. Our innovators have architected customized solutions that address pain points while simultaneously streamlining monitoring, auditing, reporting, and other efforts associated with achieving SOX compliance. Contact iTech today to discuss your company’s risk management challenges.