Can blockchain solve some of the challenges of SoD?

Blockchain - SoD
(C) iStock.com/sorbetto

A new report by global tax, transaction and advisory firm EY shows that blockchain-based solutions could offer a solution to the efficiency challenges thrown up by traditional segregation of duties (SoD) policies.

SoD is the concept is designed to prevent fraud and error in business by having responsibility for completing a task shared by more than one person. SoD policies were defined over a decade to better facilitate the waterfall software development approach, as a response to control-driven regulations so that a single individual was not capable of introducing a tech change in an organisation alone.

These policies are characterised by the physical separation of environments and teams along the various stages that make up a typical waterfall process. This has tended to result in slower delivery times and needlessly bloated overheads.

“SoD policies present challenges to an organization’s ability to adopt continuous delivery processes, commonly called DevOps,” says Vayo Vojinovic, Executive Director, Architecture and Emerging Technology Advisory at EY Canada.

“Implementing delivery controls on blockchain technology can help organizations accelerate their adoption and enable a more effective approach to control compliance in DevOps environments.”

Automated service delivery

Many companies have adopted the DevOps method to try a get a bit more speed and agility into their processes, and to accelerate business transformation in the face of industry disruption.

In response to the waterfall method, business adopting DevOps are looking to integrate agile development and continuous change management into the way they operate. However, in a DevOps environment, normal SoD controls become a barrier to the successful adoption of agile processes.

All of this means businesses are arying out for a solution that will allow for the seamless implementation of SoD controls in an agile environment. This is where blockchain could step in.

“To stay competitive, companies have to keep up with the pace of business modernization, while continuing to meet regulatory requirements,” says Vojinovic.

“They need to continue to strive for simplicity and precision in the execution of their delivery controls. Following current internal directives can be a costly mistake that hinders the benefits of agile delivery and slows down implementation of DevOps.”

Blockchain-based solutions could allow for transparent and auditable oversight of the delivery process across the entirety of an enterprise or supply chain.

In the report two particular characteristics of blockchain technology are highlighted:

  • transparency – creating a trusted data source for transactions records
  • efficiency – breaking down segregation barriers and automating delivery controls could lead to increased efficiency and make development quicker

The report concludes by saying:

“A well-understood, role-driven, documented and automated service delivery process is only a requirement, which, when implemented on a blockchain using smart contracts, will provide immutable traceability of approved delivery activities.”

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