Many organisations not affected by the US Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, which aims to prevent corporate accounting scandals, will have to comply with the Companies Bill currently passing thought Parliament.
The Bill introduces criminal offences for company directors that knowingly make false statements to their auditors and gives auditors greater rights to demand information from firms.
Companies listed in the European Union will from 1 January 2005 have to comply with new international accounting rules. IT systems affected by the rule change include treasury, general ledger, accounting and enterprise resource planning systems.
Dennis Keeling, chief executive of the Business Application Software Developers Association, said, "The coming months are critical for IT departments. They need to do a very thorough systems analysis and ensure that they can track back information from the [published] accounts.
"They might need to invest in new technology to track changes to documents. This has never had to be done before and is a major problem."