The Cost Of SOX Is Declining?

BeyondTrust, June 30th, 2011

No, I’m not talking about socks that protect your feet, I’m talking about the government regulation that most of you are worried about. Protiviti just released a new study on the effectiveness and costs of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance with a number of interesting insights for IT managers who are concerned about the effectiveness and costs of their IT controls. The overall results are encouraging.

According to Protiviti’s 2011 Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Survey, the cost of SOX compliance is declining and most participant believe the benefits of the controls outweigh the costs. Now I am little skeptical that all of the companies surveyed are including the full impact of SOX controls on IT costs, especially since less than 50% track and report the hours and costs of compliance. I suspect some companies have just gotten comfortable that some of the activities they added are just part of a new normal. Sort of like the metaphor of a slowly boiling frog not jumping out of the pot.

Nevertheless, the way companies are approaching the continuous improvement in their SOX controls is telling. They are simultaneously reducing costs and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of operations by following a number of key strategies:

-Using the COSA framework to define best practices. COBIT would provide a similar framework for IT
-Increase use automated controls and continuous monitoring including a shift to preventative rather than detective controls
-Use of data mining and analytics to increase understanding of process performance
-Consolidating IT processes, platforms and systems

These are all things IT can embrace and as a strategic vendor of compliance and security solutions to the enterprise, things we should and can help our customers with. Implementing least privilege across physical, virtual and cloud-computing environments can also add to this savings.