Does Corporate America Need CPOs?

First there was the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. With scandals and fraud came the advent of the chief accountability officer and the chief ethics, knowledge, regulatory and disclosure officers, to name a few. Technology brought us the chief information officer. Now some would like to install chief process officers to help companies comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Local Tech Wire (LTW) reported that with the new rules required for most companies between 2004 and 2006, the chief process officer (CPO) could be critical to successful implementation of the sweeping corporate reform legislation, passed in 2002.

With corporate disclosures driven by corporate process, it stands to reason that someone will have to identify, catalog and evaluate disclosure-drivers or events, which result in additional processes (preparation and issuance of disclosures), LTW reported. In addition, as the PCAOB enacts more rules in response to Sarbanes-Oxley, the processes become more complicated.

New standards promulgated by the PCAOB will alter the course of audits away from the GAAP and GAAS of yesterday. Instead, they will be performed subject to the ‘Standards of the PCAOB,’ which will incorporate GAAP, GAAS and new, PCAOB-defined criteria, LTW reported.

"What is needed is a ‘process sheriff’ to establish and maintain order, or at least maintain effective communication and prioritization of process changes and modifications to support all of the changes going on," wrote Glenn Conway, a partner with Visage Solutions, who wrote the article for LTW. "The Chief Process Officer (CPO) would be tasked with monitoring pulse-points and issues across the business process universe within the company, with the mandate and charge to coordinate and prioritize remedial action and focus as the problems unfold.

"He/she would report to the CEO and interact with the Public Auditor, Internal Audit, CFO, CEO, COO, CIO, and Division Presidents to characterize and localize the greatest process and business risks, and focus attention on resolving the process problems… What is needed is a multi-dimensional Process Guru who can communicate, coordinate and articulate to help integrate business processes. What is needed is a CPO."

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