Finding the best-in-class solution
So rather than asking what’s the best-in-class solution? Flip the focus to - what does our business need? Every business and so every automation scenario is different. There are some key common themes and challenges, but vulnerabilities, risk and needs will be different.
Outsourcing or skill building?
It’s a nuanced mix of people, systems, and processes. Compliance requirements change regularly and so require a steady drip of investment and problem solving - and an agile mix of people, systems, and processes. Large, complex global organizations will need a different combination when compared with smaller businesses operating in just one jurisdiction.
Outsourcing can help in some scenarios but will struggle to deliver value in some areas. However, outsourcing as a permanent or temporary tactical measure may work well. Handing over global VAT compliance to a single provider, for example, to standardize compliance processes and identify and resolve data issues on a global scale, will highlight to leadership the extent of automation needed and provide an external expert voice of support in the drive for tax automation.
The VAT team’s skills-set will be critical and skills that focus on processes, controls, data accuracy, insights, and use should be strengthened or sustained.
The indirect tax team toolbox: the most important skills in the VAT team
From the audience poll the big skill priority was tax knowledge. That’s no surprise really, if you don’t have a foundation of indirect tax knowledge and experience then you won’t be able to prioritize correctly. However, the importance of accurate data and then understanding and interpreting that data should not be underestimated and should inform the skills toolbox. But that’s not all.
Some useful insight, for example, “Business partnering and influencing skills and the ability to articulate what you are trying to achieve in layman language are aspects that need more development sometimes.”
Be the bridge across complexity
Tax teams also need to be the bridge between tax complexity and IT specialisms - far beyond the challenges of specialist language. To what extent a tax manager will need to know and understand all the innovative technologies (think robotics, machine learning, block chain, AI, and python) coming into play, is yet unknown. So, tax teams must have skills around advocating a cause, adjusting language to the various stakeholders, teamwork and finding technology people that can help. It is these softer skills that are the key to future proofing your work and ensuring that your must-haves for successful tax transformation receive proper attention.
There are two more blogs in the series each a 3-minute read: part 1 and part 2.
If you want to dig deeper on this, it’s worth listening to the webinar and hearing insights from the expert panel and audience voting polls.