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Sun Microsystems Inc. was operating with a seriously deficient eight-year-old stock plan system, inadequate Web access tools for the 30,000 participants, and painfully few interfaces with other finance systems. With new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules to confront in addition, Sun had no choice but to do a major overhaul of its defined benefit plan–or create a brand new process. “We needed to do something. We needed to do it at once. We needed to do it economically. And we needed to do it right,” says Jeffrey Boldt, Sun treasurer and vice president of finance.

That would have been enough of a challenge, but before Sun officials could even begin to strategize about change, they had to convince CFO Michael Lehman, that the expense was a priority at a time when the $14 billion computer networking services provider was tightening its belt in hopes of executing a turnaround. “To get the money, we had to show value from improved accounting and compliance functions,” says Boldt. “And we had to promise a good return on investment. It was one of the very few projects that was financed in the past couple of years.”

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