New Microsoft Offering to Help Address Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Requirements – Stories

EDITORSUPDATE,Dec。

3,2004

MicrosoftisevolvingtheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorsprogramwiththeSolutionShowcasefortheMicrosoftOfficeSystem。

Foradditionalinformation,see

MicrosoftShowcasesMoreSolutionsDevelopedOntheMicrosoftOfficeSystem

orthe

MicrosoftOfficeSystemSolutionsWebsite

REDMOND,Wash。

Dec。

17,2003Therecentmulti-billion-dollarscandalsatcompaniessuchasEnronandWorldcom,amongotherincidents,werecatalystsformajorchange。

Whiletheaccountingindustryandmanycompaniesreviewedandtightenedtheirowndocumentingandreportingprocessesinresponse,theU。

S。

Congressgotreallyseriousaboutprotectingshareholderinterests,passingtheSarbanes-OxleyActof2002。

Thislegislationprovidesspecificreportingrequirementsforpubliccompanies,andcreatedthePublicCompanyAccountingOversightBoard(PCAOB),aprivate-sector,non-profitcorporationthatoverseestheauditorsofpubliccompaniestohelpensurethepreparationofinformative,fair,andindependentauditreports。

Theactradicallychangescorporategovernanceandreportingobligationsforallpubliclytradedcompanies,andsignificantlyincreasespersonalaccountabilityfortheorganizationsofficers,auditors,securitiesanalystsandlegalcounsel。

NewcompliancerequirementsmandatethatCEOsandCFOspersonallycertifyfinancialstatementsandaffirmtheyareresponsiblefordisclosurecontrolsandproceduresatalllevelsoftheircorporation。

Plus,theactrequiresanannualevaluationbythecompanysindependentauditorofinternalcontrolsandproceduresforfinancialreporting,tobepublishedinthecompanysannualreport。

TheMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxley,plannedforreleaseinMarch2004,willprovidetechnologyautomationthatenablesmanagementtomoreeasilymeetthenewgovernmentrequirementsmandatedbySarbanes-OxleyAct。

TheacceleratorisbuiltonMicrosoftWindowsSharePointServicesandMicrosoftOfficeInfoPath2003,andisthefirstdeliverableunderalargercomplianceinitiativefromMicrosoft。

Thisisthelatestinaseriesofacceleratorsaimedathelpingcompaniesaddresskeybusinessissues。

TolearnmoreabouttheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxley,PressPassspokewithRobBernard,directorofprogrammanagementintheInformationWorkerNewMarketsGroupatMicrosoft。

PressPass:WhyisthereaMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxley?

Bernard:TheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-OxleywasdevelopedtoaddressakeypainpointformanyMicrosoftcustomers,andtodosoinanextremelycost-effectiveway。

CurrentregulationsunderthenewSarbanes-OxleylawmandatethatallpubliclytradedcompaniesfilecertainreportsandstatementsbeforeDecember31,2004。

Manyofourcustomersarepubliclytraded,sowesawahugeneed。

Microsoftsgoalistomeetcustomerneedsinalow-cost,high-qualityway,andwesawthatwecouldhelpmeetcomplianceneedsbybuildinganewtoolonafoundationofexistingproductsthatmanyofourcustomershavealreadylicensedorwillwanttolicenseformultiplereasons。

Itsaverycompellingvalueproposition。

PressPass:WhatistheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxley?

Bernard:TheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleyisafoundationonwhichcompaniesorpartnerscanbuildtheircomplianceinfrastructure。

ItsasoftwarepackagebuiltontopoftheOfficeSystemplatform,specificallyWindowsSharePointServicesandOfficeInfoPath2003,thatletsourcustomersmeetcomplianceneedswhileworkingwithinthefamiliarenvironmentofOffice。

ByusingandextendingalotoffunctionalitythatalreadyexistsinOfficeandWindowsSharePointServices,wecreatedanacceleratorthatveryeffectivelyaddressesmanyofapubliccompanysSarbanes-Oxleyneeds,includingmanagingcontrolsandlibrariesofdocumentation,status,roll-upreportingandmore。

Wevereceivedpositivefeedbackfromcustomersandpartnersthattheacceleratorhelpssolvethemostpressingneeds。

PressPass:HowdoesithelpaddressneedscreatedbytheSarbanes-OxleyAct?

Bernard:TheSarbanes-OxleyActgivestopexecutivesamandatetocloselyscrutinizeandmonitortheassemblyoffinancialdataacrosstheenterprise。

TheMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleyenablesexecutivestocheckandmanagethoseprocessesanddocumentsovertheentireprocesslifecycle。

TheacceleratorprovidesfourprimarypointsofvalueinSarbanes-Oxleycomplianceinitiatives:

DocumentandInformationManagement。

Theacceleratorstreamlineswork,includesbuilt-inaudittrailfeatures,andenablesexecutivestoeasilystore,access,andmanagecompliancedata。

ProcessAutomationandWorkflow。

Executivescandynamicallyaddusersandtaskstotheworkflow,definerolesandmanagesystemaccessaccordingly,andelectronicallyapprovedocuments。

Theacceleratorpromptsusersforactionwithe-mailalerts。

CollaborationandCommunication。

Usersgetcurrentinformation,andarealertedwhendocumentshavebeenchanged。

Executivescanmonitordocumentstatus,andauditdataandprocesses,throughcontrolledaccess。

MonitoringandReporting。

Executivedashboardsdisplayprojectstatusandenableexecutivestospotandcorrectprocessissuesbeforetheybecomerealproblems。

Theacceleratorprovidesaprintedsummary,alongwithdetailedreports,oncomplianceresultsandcompanyreadiness。

TheMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleyiseasytodeploy,isoptimizedaroundthemostcommoncontrolmethodologiesandhasflexibilitytoallowcorporationstoadaptittotheirspecialneeds。

Itallowsapartner,suchasanaccountingfirmthatmaybeassistedbyasystemsintegrator,toreadilycreateacustomsolutionthatmakesiteasyonanindividual,division,andcorporateleveltogetatandmanagetheinformationacompanywillneedtocomplywiththeAct。

PressPass:WillthisworkforinternationalcompaniesthatarelistedonU。

S。

stockexchanges?

Bernard:Yes,webuiltthissothatcompaniesinmanydifferencegeographiclocationscantakeadvantageoftheaccelerator。

Wesupportlanguages,suchasJapanese,thatrequiredouble-bytesupport。

PressPass:IsMicrosoftusingtheacceleratortomeetitsowncomplianceneeds?

Bernard:Yes,theproductteamisworkingverycloselywithMicrosoftsinternalfinanceandauditteamstomakesurethattheacceleratormeetsbothourownneedsandthoseoftheworld

PressPass:AreyouworkingwithBigFouraccountingfirms?

Bernard:Yes。

WereworkingwithseveraloftheBigFouraccountingfirms,indifferentways。

BecauseeachoftheBigFourhaslargenumbersofclientsforwhomusingtheMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleywillmakeenormoussense,wearecommittedtoensuringthattheacceleratorisappropriatelycompatiblewiththemethodologiesandcontrollibrariesofeachoftheBigFour。

TheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleyisdesignedtoaccommodateauditmethodologiesregardlessofsource,andalsoprovidethemeanstoadjustmethodologiesasrequired。

WearenotlimitingourselvestoinvolvementwithjustoneoftheBigFour,becauseourcustomersusemanyfirms,andmanyfirmshavegoodapproachesandideasthatwewanttosupport。

Compatibilitywithvariousmethodologiesandcontrollibrarieswillincreasewithsubsequentversionsoftheacceleratorandweexpecttheretobenewversionswellintothefuture,becausecompliancewillremainamajorandevolvingneedofcorporations。

WecantcooperatedirectlywithDeloitteTouchebecauseitisMicrosoftsauditor。

ButalloftheBigFourcanhelpdeploytheacceleratorfortheircustomers,andthatsourexpectation。

PressPass:Whatifcomplianceregulationsorneedschange?

Bernard:AprimeobjectiveoftheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleyistoprovideasustainablecompliancetoolonethatprovidespowerfullong-termvalue。

Theacceleratorwasarchitectedtoevolveasregulatoryandmethodologicalrequirementsevolve。

Theacceleratorwillcontinuetomeetongoing,changingneeds。

Complianceisanactivityundertakenbyacompany,inconcertwithitsadvisors,andtheMicrosoftOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleysimplyautomatesthemanagementofcompliancerulesandbehaviorsforthecompany。

PressPass:WillacompanyrequireanyexternalvendorsorpartnerstodeploytheOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxley?

Bernard:Microsoftdoesnotpromisetosolveanycompanyscomplianceproblems。

Rather,weprovideatoolwhich,ifappropriatelyused,canverymuchhelpacompanymeetitscompliancerequirements。

Usingthetoolappropriatelywillinvolveguidancefromaqualifiedaccountingfirm。

Likemanycompliancesystems,theOfficeSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-Oxleywillrequiresomeconfigurationandcustomization,andthatworkwilllikelybedonebyasystemsintegratoralthoughmuchoftheintegrationworkcouldbedonebyacustomersinternalITstaff。

OnceacompanydecideswhatitsgeneralapproachistoSarbanes-Oxley,itwillneedtoolstoimplementandmanagecompliance。

Webelievetheacceleratoristhebesttoolonthemarket,becauseofitscurrentandfuturefeatures,becauseofthestrengthandcommitmentofthecompanybehindit,andbecauseofthevaluepropositionitoffers。

Asystemsintegratorcangetthesolutionupandrunningandconfiguredtotheindividualcompanysneedsinaveryshorttimeframe。

Theacceleratorcanaccommodatevariousapproaches,includingmanyuniqueapproachesacompanymighttake。

Oursystemsintegratorpartnerswillbewell-trainedtohandlethoseneedsthattrainingismadestillsimplerbytheacceleratorsfoundationofcoreMicrosoftproductsthattheintegratorsknowwell。

PressPass:WhatareMicrosoftsplansforfuturecompliancetechnology?

Bernard:Microsoftiscommittedtoprovidingcompliancetoolsandfeaturesforthelongterm。

TheMicrosoftSolutionAcceleratorforSarbanes-OxleyisthefirstdeliverableunderalargercomplianceinitiativefromMicrosoft。

Inadditiontoinvestinginbuildingtoolsthatfacilitatecompliance,weareworkingacrossproductlinestoprovidethebestpossiblefunctionalitytomeetourcustomerscomplianceneeds。

CustomerscanlookforwardtoseeingmoreandmorecompliancefunctionalityinMicrosoftproducts。

WebelievethatcorporategovernancewillchangeasaresultofSarbanes-Oxleyandsimilarregulationsaroundtheworld。

Foracompanytocomplywitharegulation,andtoaccuratelyattestthatithascomplied,itmustknowitsactualcondition。

Corporateleadersmustbeabletolookintothecompanyandseeitasitreallyis。

Wesaythecompanymusthave

transparency。

Acompanythatistransparentcanmorereadilycomplywithgovernmentrequirements,butitalsoenjoysotheradvantages。

Whenleadersknowwhatsreallygoingon,itcanthelpbutleadtobetterdecision-makinginmostcases。

Ourproductsandserviceswillhelpmakecompaniesmoretransparent,leadingbothtoless-burdensomecomplianceactivitiesand,webelieve,ROIinitsownright。