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Why Automation is Key to Resolving SoD Conflicts in SAP

By Shiv Sujir • July 16, 2021

Companies using SAP typically have some type of structured governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) strategy to manage their overall governance and enterprise risk management and meet compliance requirements. An essential component of any GRC strategy is detecting and resolving SAP segregation of duties (SoD) conflicts. 

SoD weighs heavily on financial management and reporting, especially for public companies or those receiving government funds. When unresolved SOD conflicts appear on audit reports, a company’s compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) and data privacy regulations like GDPR are negatively impacted. 

Spreadsheets: The Traditional Approach to Managing Segregation of Duties 

For a long time, companies have relied on spreadsheets to track and maintain roles and authorizations granted to employees. While spreadsheets are great to get started on your compliance program, they can create several hurdles as your organization grows in size and complexity.  

  • Human Error: No matter how meticulous, humans are prone to making errors, especially when dealing with thousands of rows across multiple sheets and files. Every new change can trigger a cascade of changes which is hard to keep track of manually. 
  • Low Visibility: In most cases, it’s more than just one person working on the spreadsheet with no visibility into who is editing what and where. With multiple teams/members making changes, the probability of error also increases. 
  • Reporting Delays: Collating, validating, and analyzing data that is spread across various tabs and files requires a significant amount of man-hours. This results in reporting delays and after-the-fact detection of SoD conflicts. 
  • Lack of Audit Trails: Simply put, Excel sheets cannot maintain an audit trail. Even if you can track changes, getting into each version of the file to view changes is a long and laborious process.  
  • Limited Insights: Spreadsheets are static and do not have the ability to cross-reference data to provide actionable insights. Also, manually sifting through large volumes of data makes it difficult to detect behaviors that impact risk. 

The reasons mentioned above make it abundantly clear that the spreadsheet method of tracking and resolving SoD violations is slow, inefficient, and error-prone. With regulatory authorities imposing compliance mandates and hefty fines on companies that fail to meet audit requirements, there is an immediate need to update your approach to GRC with tools that are equipped for the job. 

Segregation of Duties Conflicts Are Not Static 

An increasing number of companies who use SAP are realizing that segregation of duties conflicts are a significant cause of audit failures. This is mainly because SAP authorizations are not static, and neither are SoD violations. As employee roles and duties change over time, it becomes difficult to keep track of authorizations and SoD rules that govern the limits of each role. For example, when a procurement team member who is authorized to approve new vendors retires, this role could be assigned to someone on the team who is authorized to issue purchase orders. This immediately creates a conflict of interest and results in an SoD violation.  

In large organizations, such violations happen regularly, and without the tools to detect and resolve them immediately, an audit failure is inevitable. To address this challenge, companies deploy simulation solutions that allow them to see if granting an authorization could cause an SoD conflict. However, these results are generally ignored since most simulation tools do not offer options to resolve the conflict. The reality is that holding up authorizations can directly impact the operational efficiency of the business, which usually wins over compliance requirements in the short term.  

Automation is the Key to Resolving SoD Conflicts 

To be able to proactively detect and prevent SoD violations, organizations need to go beyond simulation and invest in solutions that can constantly monitor SAP roles and authorizations. In fact, solutions that can go one step further and offer options for resolution will allow administrators to quickly take action without creating further conflicts. Appsian Security ProfileTailor GRC was designed keeping in mind the challenges faced by companies who struggle with meeting compliance due to SoD conflicts. With real-time automated monitoring capabilities, ProfileTailor GRC enables you to immediately detect and resolve SoD violations within a matter of minutes.  

Whether you have new employees needing authorizations, current employees changing positions or roles, or someone leaving the organization, ProfileTailor GRC will do the heavy lifting for you and provide you with an ongoing, fully automated, and integrated solution. 

Download our white paper Quickly Resolve Segregation of Duties Conflicts to learn how automation can help enable GRC in your organization. 

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