Executives may have spent a lot of energy groaning about the burdens of Sarbanes-Oxley, but a growing number are beginning to recognize some rewards for their companies' efforts. Forty-two percent of respondents in an AMR Research survey of 200 companies, 68% of which had revenues in excess of $1 billion, admitted that employing best practices in governance, risk management and compliance have resulted in better and more streamlined business processes. Among the long-term benefits cited: better quality transactions, resulting in fewer errors; better quality processes; a more secure environment; and better visibility into operations.

Not surprisingly, even though spending on SarbOx compliance in 2007 is expected to match 2006 spending at about $6 billion, companies are choosing to increase other areas of governance and risk management spending. Respondents to the AMR survey reported they expected 2007 GRC investment to jump 8.5% to $30 billion.

Technology-related SarbOx spending is actually down about 5% from 2006, the first such dip in tech-related Sarbanes-Oxley spending. Spending on internal staff rose 6.5%, due mainly to the fact that, middle market (capitalization) and foreign companies will have to meet Sarbanes-Oxley compliance milestones in 2007. Spending on external services continues to drop, down 9% year over year, in line with the trend on external services spending. AMR believes, however, that some of the advisory services have simply transitioned to risk management initiatives.

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