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The value of SAP BusinessObjects Process Control – a personal view

The “official” description (on the SAP web site) of SAP BusinessObjects Process Control (PC) talks about optimizing business operations and ensuring compliance.    It also says that “SAP BusinessObjects Process Control enables you to:

  • Implement operational controls to improve business process management – Automate your business process control management to facilitate streamlined business processes. Implement controls for key risks using a combination of automated control monitoring, manual control testing, and self-assessments. Analyze trends and patterns in control activities to optimize business process performance.
  • Reduce costs without compromising compliance – Transform your manual and piecemeal control activities into automated, simplified real-time management processes. Deploy predefined, automated control tests across multiple organizations and business units to reduce the number of controls that need to be maintained. Increase efficiencies and control process accuracy via manual control tests that are automatically routed to appropriate personnel, and via automatically created remediation cases.
  • Enable lines of business to effectively mitigate risks – View a role-based dashboard to monitor control activities. Quantify financial exposure from failed controls to prioritize your business process improvements.”

While there clearly is an opportunity to improve the efficiency of business operations and to provide more assurance that the controls relied upon to manage risks (including compliance risks) are effective, I would describe the value proposition differently.

One major distinction I would make is between implementing a control and testing a control. PC enables you to do both of these quite distinct tasks. Each (implementing a control and testing a control) has a separate and significant value stream that merits discussion.

The following is how I would explain the value of SAP BusinessObjects Process Control.

Norman‘s value proposition:

Every organization needs and relies on internal controls – to manage risks to the business, achieve performance goals, produce reliable financial reports, and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, as part of their oversight responsibility, the board and executive management need assurance that the controls in place are effective.

SAP BusinessObjects Process Control enables an organization to be both more efficient and more effective in providing both the controls themselves and assurance that the controls are operating effectively. It allows you to:

  • Replace manual controls with more efficient automated controls. For example, a manual review of accounts receivable listings to identify accounts exceeding credit limits by a pre-determined percentage or amount could be replaced by an automated control. Process Control can monitor transactions as they are being processed and provide timely identification of potential credit issues.
  • Centralize and reduce the number of controls. Process Control has the ability to provide controls across multiple systems and organizations. A centralized automated control using Process Control can replace multiple controls within each system or organization.
  • Improve the quality of controls. Process Control has the ability to examine 100% of the transactions processed and identify exceptions to specified rules. A manual control to ensure the correct individual approves a transaction may be limited to the examination of a sample of transactions. With Process Control, all transactions are examined and only potential exceptions are identified for review and follow-up.
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of control testing. Process Control is an efficient continuous auditing application that allows organizations to deploy a combination of automated control monitoring, manual control testing, and control self-assessments. It is a powerful tool for improving an organization’s testing of internal control over financial reporting (for Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 and similar regulations). It can also be used by internal audit and other assurance groups to test the operation of automated and manual controls for other areas, such as controls over the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and the quality of management and non-financial reporting..
  • Implement an efficient and effective fraud detection program. Because it is able to examine 100% of transactions against pre-determined rules, Process Control is an effective and efficient way to identify suspicious and potentially fraudulent transactions.
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