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.
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