Succeeding at compliance today (Sarbanes-Oxley or otherwise) requires a specific corporate culture, according to experts with whom we've spoken. Or at least "compliance culture" is the latest buzzword in the compliance arena. So what does that encompass?
Generally, it addresses incorporating compliance into existing processes across your enterprise rather than allowing compliance to become a standalone, or a process unto itself. Doing this makes processes more efficient and more consistent -- even across departmental boundaries.
But sometimes we forget that compliance also involves people -- at every level, not just the CFOs and CEOs that must sign off on financial statements. As much as automating processes has helped eliminate error, people can't be removed from the equation entirely. Educating staffers as to how their responsibilities fit into the compliance picture and how failing to complete their duties accurately and consistently really could harm the company is a huge part of creating that culture.
A recent E-Commerce Times article provides a good outline of the compliance process as it applies to employees. Though the piece is geared specifically toward payroll professionals, the principles therein could apply to any department, and the tables and illustrations used could be easily adapted to other groups.