The world of tax automation can be a tricky place for customers rolling out a tax solution. That situation can be made even more challenging when that solution is global in nature. Here are some helpful tips to consider when embarking on the implementation journey:
1. Understand your business landscape. The first step to effectively deploying any solution is to understand the business needs. What are the pain points? How much time and cost can we afford? Being able to articulate where you are and where you want to go as a business helps everyone drive towards the same goals. This also ensures that the value proposition of any solution is clear to the business and that the timing is right.
2. Understand your ERP architecture and deployment. The foundation of any automated tax solution is your ERP system. It’s the source from which a solution is connected. During implementation it’s vital that your deployment model be vetted from an architectural perspective to ensure long term stability and scalability as your business grows. This is especially true for on-premise deployments, as you’re bringing new technology in-house and have to build an architecture to support it sufficiently.
3. Consider how to meld multiple solutions, During implementation there may be multiple systems having solution deployed in parallel. Once key thing to understand is how these various solutions will tie together, and where there might be impacts. Having a mind for these cross-system overlaps will help mitigate risk as you push forward.
4. Take a regional approach. When implementing a tax solution globally, a business in likely to have stakeholders in many regions. For example, there may businesses in US/CA, EMEA, APAC, Latin American, etc. Each of these regions is likely to have a bit of unique flavor in terms of how they deploy solutions, and as such often taking a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The best solutions are regionally effective while globally efficient.
5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The hardest part about a global tax solution rollout is all the complexity to consider. There might also be budgets to manage, timeframe to work within. Often it doesn’t make sense to do a global rollout in a single phase. Breaking down scope into phases allows you to be strategic in how you implement, providing greater capacity for managing timelines, resources and spend.
6. Project planning is key. Implementations have many moving parts, timelines to manage, and resources to juggle. Doing this without some mechanism to align everyone is a challenge. Having someone focused on project planning, coordination, status, communications, issue management, etc. allows for a project to run fluidly with wider alignment.
7. Communication is key (talk openly, collaboratively, track issues, status). Bringing people and knowledge together are some of the keys involved in successful implementations. Doing so means that there has to be effective forums for individuals and teams to communicate. The best planned projects can fall apart if people aren’t speaking. Being able to having resources, internal and external, openly discuss requirements, issues, impacts, risks, etc. ensures that all information is on the table so that you can make informed decisions.
8. Understand your tax policy. One of the most critical aspects to a tax implementation is the articulation of business and data processing requirements to an implementer. An implementer will design solutions based on their understanding of your business, and thus ensuring the right resources devote time to this critical exercise is vital to project success.
9. Keep it flexible. What you’re implementing today may not be the only thing this solution encompasses in the future. Post implementation there might be upgrades, new acquisitions, business expansions, etc. Implementers should consider how to keep their solutions flexible so that future additions can be integrated, as opposed to re-implementation being required.
10. Test, test, test. The best tax solutions are those which are tailored, vetted, and looked upon confidently by a business. How you get there is through thorough end-to-end testing, looping in all stakeholders, technical and functional, to ensure there’s due process put into validating all the build work in place. Both affording the time to test and resources to execute are critical to the success of any implementation.
11. Think of the end at the beginning. One of the end goals of any tax automation solution is to provide efficient, accurate and reportable tax information. While the actual tax department exercise of compiling returns is often not considered until late in the implementation process, there can be benefit to considering requirements for global compliance early. Having the compliance conversations early in the implementation cycle can allow requirements to be solutioned early in the process so that there’s a seamless solution.
12. Embrace training. One of the things that should come out of any successful implementation is an empowered customer. A customer with the knowledge to effectively own, maintain, and articulate their solution end-to-end is one with the skills to troubleshoot autonomously, grow seamlessly, and be less reliant on outside services to assist.