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From the editor.

Even well-thought-out programs for new technology deployments can run afoul of organizational resistance, writes Longview Technologies CFO Dave Murray in our cover story on maximizing the use of technology. "Overall implementation effectiveness and [return] on technology investments depend on end-user buy-in and the extent to which the application performs as promised across the enterprise and within new or expanding departments or divisions," he writes.

Our FEI@75 ARTICLE offers insights on the impact of accounting standards--from the birth of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and FEI's support of the new standard-setting body in 1973 to where we are today. Thoughtful pieces were crafted by current FASB Chairman Robert Herz on today's complexity and suggested solutions; by IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie on the rationale for converging with international standards; and by two-term former FASB Chairman Dennis Beresford on the origins of FASB, with insights on what it needs to do to continue and enhance its critical role.

The United Airlines bankruptcy, one of the largest in recent years, has some instructive lessons about how the bankruptcy system works and how it can benefit companies who approach it thoughtfully. The lead attorney and two partners from Kirkland and Ellis LLP who handled the case talk about United's passage through Chapter 11 and offer some conclusions about why the troubled carrier's process worked as well as it did.

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Social responsibility issues, many environmentally related, remain a core concern for activists seeking to negotiate with major companies. But now the back-room discussions have been augmented by public confrontations, both from activists and from a small "backlash" movement protesting environmental initiatives at big-name enterprises like General Electric Co. and Goldman Sachs Group.

It's apparent that larger companies do like to promote from within, and many have well-established programs for grooming mid-career finance managers. Writer Susan Schott Karr examines programs in place at Wal-Mart, Cigna and Sprint Nextel, all of which offer specialized instruction for select individuals.

SOA, short for service-oriented architecture, is one of the biggest trends sweeping through information technology these days. It promises significant help for the bottom line in the form of reduced programming costs, "reusable" building blocks and the ability to leverage technology that's already in place.

Computer security still is a central concern for CFOs. In fact, it scored first among critical issues cited in the eighth annual technology survey done by Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), coming in ahead of such important goals as prioritizing technology investments and aligning IT with business strategies. However, this last goal scored highest at large companies taking part in the survey.

As audit committees' responsibilities and pressures grow, they are looking to the CFO to help them understand the complex area of oversight of internal controls. Kenneth Daly, executive director of KPMG's Audit Committee Institute, suggests that CFOs should probe the audit committee leadership to assess the committee's comfort level with the information it's getting.

Speaking of directors, they're undoubtedly aware these days of that vital safety net: good directors and officers' (D & O) insurance. But private companies may not have that much experience with D & O. Attorney Carl Metzger of Goodwin & Procter reviews common questions private concerns may have about the coverage and its implications--and, importantly, what it doesn't cover.
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Author:Marshall, Jeffrey
Publication:Financial Executive
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:541
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