DANA POINT CALIF. JULY 18 2006 – Passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley act
was intended to mandate corporate transparency and expose fraudulent
business practices. But if you think SOX is the worry of public-company
CFOs think again.
The trickle-down of SOX compliance initiatives is sure to impact event
departments at big companies and small as well as event agencies and
other vendor companies that do business with public companies since
public companies will almost certainly insist that their vendors adapt
controls that mirror their own. The best defense against running afoul
of these new regulations is a good or at least some sort of offense
according to David Kaufman founding partner of Acquis Consulting Group
(www.acquisconsulting.com) and an expert on SOX compliance practices.
Kaufman suggested that event executives take the following general
approach to initiate best practices as they relate to Sarbanes-Oxley
compliance during a presentation at the Computer Event Marketing
Association’s (CEMA) annual meeting here today.
The steps include: Documenting your current processes for organizing
planning and purchasing services and products for your events; identify
areas of financial and other forms of risk; document the current
controls you have in place to alleviate any areas of risk; develop a
strategy to remedy any process deficiencies; link controls with the
related process; document the revised process and the controls that
have been put in place; and finally track success and document
additional areas of risk.
Kaufman pointed out that SOX will affect nearly every aspect of the
event planning process at most large public companies as well as their
suppliers including planning marketing management/execution and
onsite activities. Compliance issues will influence interaction between
and among suppliers; contracts; allocation of costs; approved vendor
arrangements; billing practices; and even so-called “extravagant”
meetings which Kaufman likened to pornography – not easily defined by
regulators but evident to reasonable people when they see it.
If the demands of SOX compliance have not yet found their way to your
event group Kaufman suggested adding some value to your corporate
stature by taking a proactive approach that includes the following
checklist: evaluate your current processes and implementing
improvements as necessary; documenting your processes and controls;
writing and rewriting an event planning process; investigating your
procurement and vendor RFP process; evaluating your technology enablers
(such as online registration data and financial reconciliation systems)
to insure compliance effectiveness; and request a meeting with key
stakeholders within your organization to begin a dialog.