Compliance could be perceived as a catalyst for long-delayed IT investment which will add value to the enterprise, says Jim Fleming.
Complying with new FSA regulations, Basel II and Sarbanes-Oxley give most organisations a headache. But compliance is not a cost centre or a pain in the neck. Compliance professionals are not simply box-tickers, but powerful allies who can add value to the enterprise.
For budget-starved IT departments the need to comply with new regulations is a catalyst for fresh investment that could help to transform business operations. Compliance is a vehicle to enable a company to extend and maintain its competitiveness: a powerful stick to use when agreeing the new IT budget with senior management, because the responsibility for it lies with them.
Regulation has become risk-based, incorporating business risks as much as regulatory risks. So compliance is a far-reaching corporate challenge, not just something to do with reporting numbers to the financial markets.
Industry best practice favours taking a globally integrated view of risk that accepts three principles: regulation is unavoidable, manageable and should not stand alone. It is information-hungry and demands robust record keeping arrangements which must be flexible, durable and, in certain cases, near real-time.
Gartner estimates that Global 1000 enterprises should allocate at least £1.09m for compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley alone through to 2005. This level of investment allows IT departments to specify systems to meet enterprise-wide requirements that include, but crucially are not restricted to, regulatory demands.
Because regulation is in step with good corporate governance and efficient business processes, it should be addressed in unison with other business challenges. It can be a template to realign operations to the style that is required to push the business forward.
As the issue permeates every part of an organisation it is an opportunity to amend business practices and technology. New processes should be as much focused on operational efficiency and future growth as as compliance. Improved processes can then be captured within powerful, flexible business process management software running on an improved IT architecture.
Regulation will not go away. Addressing it opens opportunities to transform an organisation. The ultimate prize is an organisation that is confident, compliant and competitive.
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Jim Fleming is founder of regulatory consultancy practice CSTARR and former head of corporate authorisation at the FSA. He will speak at events in London (23 March) and Edinburgh (25 March). Book a free place at www.filenet.com/fscompliancebriefing.asp