WestJet has turned to a new software tool to ensure that the Calgary-based airline carrier isn’t flying low when it comes to regulatory compliance. Last month, Westjet selected IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting version 2.5, software designed to automate tasks related to managing, retaining, and securing business information.

Specifically, WestJet was actively seeking a tool to meet new government regulatory compliance such as Canadian Multilateral Instrument 52-109/111 financial governance, which requires organizations to internally monitor business controls. From a compliance perspective, the decision to purchase a risk management tool was an easy one, said Corey Wells, director, audit and advisory services for Westjet.

Wells said having the opportunity to test the compliance software before making a buying decision was a major factor in choosing the IBM tool. IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting version 2.5 features a role-based framework to manage assets and internal business controls.

Similar compliance tools on the market feature the same core functionality, Wells said, but WestJet was pleased with how the IBM tool was relatively simple to navigate and handled the overall workflow. In terms of documenting business controls, compliance isn’t a one-time thing but rather an ongoing effort, he added. IBM’s product supports that.

Most companies have the proper business controls in place but these controls aren’t centrally managed, said Jeremy Dies, IBM Workplace marketing manager.

The tool is an open, standards-based control management solution providing a holistic platform; Dies said users can define business controls and set up a schedule where the controls can be tested and audited over time.

WestJet recently signed a short-term agreement to have the Web-based solution hosted by IBM. Because it is a Web-based tool, there are no integration issues with WestJet’s current IT infrastructure, he added. The solution also features dashboards to allow management to actively monitor the controls environment on a real-time basis, Dies said, helping management to assess the effectiveness of a company’s internal business controls.

The tool supports corporate governance frameworks including Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), which enables the airline to capture both financial and IT controls within one platform, Wells said.

The measure of success is in making it easier to manage the overall business controls management infrastructure, Wells said.

A recent IDC report, Worldwide Information Management for Compliance Market Forecast 2005-2009, predicted the worldwide information management for regulatory compliance market will top the US$20 billion mark in 2009. The onus is now on IT departments to monitor and report on all systems, IDC said, adding that this increased need will drive organizations to invest in tools that help to ensure sustainability of compliance-related processes and manage ongoing costs.

Wells notes that having the tool in place adds value to the organization. It’s an opportunity, Wells noted, “to document operational processes and find cost savings by eliminating redundancies.”

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