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COVID-19 has had an immediate and significant effect on the tax functions in many organisations, and how they interact with other parts of the business.
When talking to our clients, one of their main concerns is how tax teams collaborate and manage their workflow. What can tax teams do at this time to mitigate disruptions and operate more efficiently using collaborative technology solutions?
A frequent conversation we are having with clients relates to tax function effectiveness, with emphasis on the role that technology can play. The tax function and new ways of working need to be repeatable and sustainable given the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
One way to ensure that sustainability is through using connected technology. By using collaborative tools, tax teams can ensure review and controls procedures are in place to support end-to-end processes without paper files.
Collaboration tools can be used to support:
Examples of tools that can provide that support include Microsoft Suite (MS Sharepoint), Google Suite (Hangouts, Meet, Chat, Kanbanchi), Slack, video or web conferencing software, visualisation software (Power BI, Qlik, Tableau), and data preparation software (Alteryx, Power Query, Tableau Prep).
You may already hold enterprise licences in your organisation. That may provide you with an opportunity to optimise existing processes without straining your budget.
Given the uncertainty of the current environment, data visualisation tools can deliver timely insights to the tax team. They can also improve conversations with stakeholders and provide
As time goes on the focus will shift to medium and longer term objectives such as technology upskilling, process automation and systems optimisation. These objectives should be underpinned by a robust tax technology strategy.
Depending on how the working environment of the tax team evolves in the short term and their broader strategic technology objectives, it might be the right time to consider the optimising capacity and maximising training opportunities.
Consider the business stakeholders the tax team interacts with. Ensure that successful collaboration efforts implemented in the team transcend to interactions with other parts of the organisation.
In creating an agile environment which encourages team participation, it is important to establish a governance structure to ensure accountability. This can provide tax teams with the freedom to develop creative solutions as they see fit.
Short-term solutions to support remote working for tax include:
Clearly designate team roles and responsibilities in the new working environment.
Map collaboration of the tax team internally and with external stakeholders to support streamlining the process.
In order to maximise the use and efficiency of technology in tax, it is important to first identify what are the existing challenges to a virtual working environment from a tax function perspective and then to understand if technology can address them, what existing tools and applications are currently available within the organisation and who within the team has the training or skills to use them.