Industry leaders are extending their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance work to improve operating results, according to recent research from The Aberdeen Group -- and those organizations will hold a major competitive advantage.

One of the key findings: Organizations that limit Sarbanes-Oxley reviews to a small group of senior management, auditors and the board of directors have the worst performance records. By comparison, industry leaders involve much of the organization in their review. As a result, they significantly improve operating results as they introduce continuous business improvements. Aberdeen suggests that these best-in-class organizations are taking Sarbanes-Oxley in stride partly because they view it as just another process-quality program similar to business-improvement projects such as Six Sigma that they have already implemented.

Researchers say that organizations intent on expanding compliance efforts to boost their competitive position should take the following actions:

  • ensure that business processes are included in Sarbanes-Oxley deficiency testing efforts
  • prioritize and catalog broken and inefficient internal business and technology controls for remediation
  • standardize on accurate data and methods for handling deficiencies across the company
  • make business improvements throughout the organization based on Sarbanes-Oxley work, including reducing costs, improving profit margins and gaining market share.