Take a deep breath and relax

Whatever you do, don’t panic!

That was the message being peddled by analysts to IT professionals last week after the release of research which found new regulatory requirements are taxing IT departments.

New regulatory requirements I hear you say? Hell, IT compliance projects have been an ongoing, relentless task hogging the IT agenda since Y2K.

Sure, the focus right now is on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but this is just one in a sea of many and I’m not surprised that analysts fear the ‘regulation-riddled’ IT professional is reaching breaking point.

Sarbanes-Oxley is compliance project number 252 and project number 253 may be just enough to push IT shops over the edge.

Remember the Privacy Act back in 2001? That seems like a century ago.

Since then, corporate governance issues have had organisations on the hop in response to accounting scandals that had boardroom executives across the globe jumping out of their Armani suits.

In the past 18 months there have been amendments to the Corporations Act, Trade Practices Act and Financial Services Reform Act just to name a few, and all of them have had IT implications.

One issue faced by companies is extrapolating data requested by legal eagles and regulators from multiple e-mail, document and storage systems.

Most companies have proprietary formats for storing e-mail, documentation and other data on disk drives and tape cartridges.

Extracting specific information from multiple systems is a cumbersome task, and trying to streamline literally mountains of data is the project from hell. Not only that, it is also likely to be a horrendously expensive problem to fix.

As a general rule, IT shops have to archive and maintain access to all electronic communications over time periods ranging from seven years to 100 years.

Hey, you can take a deep breath here — the 100-year rule only applies to a limited number of Commonwealth agencies.

But in this depressed market where job opportunities are few and on-the-job demands are many, it is no surprise the poor old IT manager is feeling the pressure.

There is no room for failure, not only because the IT job market is at record lows, but the tough new regulatory environment of doing business today is unforgiving and guess who is at the forefront of ensuring organisations play by the rules? That’s right, it’s you. But whatever you do, don’t panic!

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