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LookSmart Lowers Time, Costs to Complete Sarbanes-Oxley Audit

Executive Summary

LookSmart, an online media and technology company that provides relevant content, advertising, and technology solutions to consumers, advertisers, and publishers, needed to improve issue and process management. After researching more than 30 business process solutions, LookSmart selected the Serena® TeamTrack® solution to improve operations throughout the company. Soon, they realized that Serena TeamTrack could also provide the end-to-end solution they needed to quickly and cost-effectively meet compliance requirements.

With TeamTrack workflows in place, the company has realized significant efficiency, productivity, and revenue gains. An order fulfillment workflow, for example, has enabled LookSmart to expand listings by 1000 percent, increasing monthly revenue and reducing lost revenue by detecting listings that almost fell through the cracks. Employees can track issue status anytime, reducing emails and meetings. In addition, TeamTrack plays an important role in LookSmart’s compliance process, providing the tight audit trail and powerful reporting needed, while reducing the time and costs of Sarbanes-Oxley audits.

Challenge

Implement an issue and process management solution to improve operations and better address compliance requirements

Solution

Serena TeamTrack

Results

  • Expanded listings by 1000 percent, increasing revenue without adding staff
  • Recaptured revenue being lost due to holes in the old process
  • Helped achieve government/regulatory compliance
  • Reduced the time and costs of Sarbanes-Oxley audits
  • Enhanced efficiency and team communication.

“There’s no doubt that having TeamTrack is the shortest point from non-compliance to compliance,” Ryder said. “It’s the fastest way to fill in the gaps in your IT approval infrastructure. I can’t imagine doing an agile, timely Sarbanes-Oxley compliance without it.”
- Larkin Ryder, Director Process Management, LookSmart


TeamTrack provides critical process control, efficiency companywide

As the web continuously expands as a vast information resource, LookSmart provides innovative search-based solutions for consumers and business. A media and technology company, LookSmart helps web users find the essential information they need, advertisers connect with their customers through targeted advertising, and publishers provide relevant content and tools to their audience.

LookSmart owes much of its success to a strong commitment to quality assurance. Product and project managers in Quality Assurance and Product Development were finding it tough to stay on the same page about issues, even with status meetings each morning, nonstop email and shared drives. After an extensive search that included more than 30 business process solutions, LookSmart seleced TeamTrack business process management software to implement workflows throughout the company.

Since then, LookSmart has created approximately 20 workflows to manage processes in areas such as product development, sales, technical operations, and finance. Yet even beyond those departments, all employees have TeamTrack accounts and most regularly rely on the software for interdepartmental collaboration.

With workflows in place, the company has realized significant new efficiency, making the investment in the software just a fraction of the return it has seen. In TeamTrack, employees can learn about the status of an issue anytime, which reduced emailing and allowed QA to eliminate its daily status meetings. With the help of the order fulfillment workflow alone, the editorial team increased listings by 1000 percent, without adding to its team – representing $270,000 in additional revenue per month. Using the same workflow, the company reduced lost revenue by detecting thousands of listings that almost fell through the cracks.

Essential Sarbanes-Oxley process control

In addition to such gains, LookSmart has found that TeamTrack’s value extends well beyond the company’s original expectations for the software. When the Sarbanes-Oxley Act emerged, LookSmart immediately recognized TeamTrack’s role in providing the tight audit trail and powerful reporting it needed. “There wasn’t any doubt in anybody’s mind that TeamTrack was going to be critical in complying with Sarbanes-Oxley,” said Larkin Ryder, Director Process Management at LookSmart.

Ryder, who manages the Sarbanes-Oxley audit process within the IT department at LookSmart, found that existing TeamTrack workflows already addressed many of the necessary compliance requirements. “Using a tool like TeamTrack, we had less work to do for Sarbanes-Oxley,” Ryder said. “We easily added workflow to cover portions where we were not in compliance or where we needed to demonstrate approval and auditability.”

With the software, Ryder easily creates, customizes or changes TeamTrack workflows. “I find that TeamTrack is inherently an easy-to-change environment,” Ryder said. “Its great strength is its ability to adapt easily to what you need to do.”

Using workflows, LookSmart can automatically reroute issues to different levels of approval depending on the information that’s supplied, which is critical functionality for Sarbanes-Oxley. For example, LookSmart needed to track when finance staff makes changes to the chart of accounts in the company’s Great Plains accounting system. Ryder built a TeamTrack approval workflow to ensure that staff would secure approval before making any changes.

Expediting audits for LookSmart, auditors

LookSmart recently completed its first internal audit and relied heavily on TeamTrack to ease the process. TeamTrack’s graphical representations of the company’s workflows helped the auditors understand and assess LookSmart’s processes more quickly. “The Sarbanes-Oxley auditors just loved TeamTrack,” Ryder said. “Showing them a picture of our processes is extremely powerful and helpful, and expedites the whole process. We’re paying them for their time, so anything we can do to make it more efficient for them is good for us.”

Graphical explanations of workflows also assured auditors that the company had control over various processes, even if there were no data points yet associated with those processes, as was the case with several workflows created near the end of the year.

Ryder built a number of reports in TeamTrack to give auditors the information they needed. For instance, reports produced for auditors covered privileged access change request and approval; security incident follow-up and resolution; finance invoice update request and approvals; and customer contract renewal requests and approvals. With reports in a public folder, auditors could access them anytime. “Using TeamTrack, we made auditors much more self sufficient,” Ryder said. “The data is all there, and it’s controlled. The change history is at the bottom of each ticket, which is extremely powerful.”

Reducing the time, costs of compliance

In the process, auditors pointed out various areas for improvement, leading the company to add several new workflows. In one case, LookSmart created a single access change workflow in IT that addressed as many as 12 gaps identified by auditors. TeamTrack’s flexibility allowed Ryder to keep things simple for employees—and herself—by adding just one workflow for those specific needs.

“Auditors would raise something from left field and we could respond right away and say, ‘We can have a TeamTrack process in place to control that in 24 hours,’” Ryder said.

As needs arose, LookSmart was able to make all changes in TeamTrack, instead of relying on external contractors. Overall, TeamTrack reduced the company’s time and costs to complete the audit, and LookSmart has greater peace of mind that it is complying with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. “There’s no doubt that having TeamTrack is the shortest point from non-compliance to compliance,” Ryder said. “It’s the fastest way to fill in the gaps in your IT approval infrastructure. I can’t imagine doing an agile, timely Sarbanes-Oxley compliance without it.”