In the spotlight early this year were some continued themes from 2006, including the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s new Auditing Standard No. 5, which clarified that audits should dwell only on areas ripe for missteps in reporting.
As 2007 wore on, the Securities and Exchange Commission marched slowly but inexorably toward mandating the use of XBRL, the fledgling format for filing financials online. Late 2008 is the likely time frame for a final decision, depending on how much havoc is wrought by such potential stumbling blocks as XBRL’s incompatibility with IFRS and resistance from big companies that sell financial data.
Some the year’s most compelling articles focused on Web-based systems that enjoyed their first popularity among consumers but that finance departments are now using. These included an examination of the need for regulating the financial aspects of the virtual world Second Life and a look at videos available on YouTube containing tips for using Excel. In fact, once again this year finance executives flocked to articles that served as tutorials for navigating Excel and other popular spreadsheet programs more easily.
Other articles covered such diverse topics as increased reliance on services that automate the accounts-payable function, a close collaboration between the internal audit and IT departments at MGM Mirage, new guidelines for testing IT systems for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, the burgeoning trend of consumers exerting great influence on business technology, and Microsoft’s new Vista operating system.
Read on to see our editors’ choices for the best technology articles of the year on CFO.com.
(To see all of our technology and software articles, check out the technology section of our archive.)
• Tickling the Keyboard: 10 Spreadsheet Tips
Basic shortcuts to smooth the use of Excel.
• AS5: Clarification or Confusion?
The PCAOB says its replacement for Auditing Standard No. 2 will focus auditors on only the most important controls and technology. But it could just create more confusion.
• Now Playing on YouTube: Microsoft Excel
The subjects of these free videos range from making a Gantt chart to reviving a romance by using a spreadsheet.
• Why Danny Ocean Won’t Go Back to Bellagio
MGM Mirage’s internal audit and information technology cops are on the prowl.
• A Truce in the Sarbox Tech War?
Will companies and their auditors ever agree on how to test information technology systems for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance? The Institute of Internal Auditors hopes its new guidelines on IT controls will help.
• GAAP Goes Interactive
The SEC creeps closer to making XBRL mandatory.
• Fix or Fraud?
The CFO says he was making a good-faith effort to straighten out a serious ERP problem. The SEC says he committed financial fraud. And right in the middle of the whole mess, Sarbanes-Oxley passed.
• Spreadsheets Are Free
Liberated from license fees, Calc can be downloaded and installed on as many PCs as you please.
• The Check Is in the Web
With a little diplomacy — and a bit of arm twisting — companies get vendors to join new accounts-payable networks.
• Middle Man
A new breed of executive — equally fluent in the ways of finance and IT — is bridging the gap between two traditionally adversarial roles.
• When Virtual Crises Turn Real
A run on the bank at the increasingly popular Second Life shows how an online “universe” needs regulation, too. But how to regulate it?
• Beyond Excel
What to do when an essential financial task outgrows its spreadsheet home? Find a business-intelligence tool with a spreadsheet interface.
• Spreadsheets: Fear No Evil
A conference breaks down the devilish side of spreadsheets, from bugs to control issues.
• Crossing Over
The next big things in business technology? Ask your kid.
• Oracle vs. SAP: The Gloves Come Off
Oracle’s suit against SAP for allegedly hacking into its customer-support database is a sign that the industry’s nasty infighting is getting even nastier.
• The Simple Complexity of XBRL
Use of interactive data is spreading, promising simpler access to data. But it still faces some complicated challenges.
• A Better Look at Your Spreadsheets
Vista promises better and faster financial graphics, provided your PC can satisfy its prodigious appetite for processing power and memory.