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Are Tax Automation Consultants Necessary? Well, It Depends...

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So you’ve selected your tax software, contracts have been haggled over and signed, and the gleaming CDs or (less taxable) FTP files have been ceremoniously delivered to your inbox. Now what? Well, it depends

Indeed the consultant’s mantra provides a nice segue to your next dilemma – do I need to hire consultants to help me implement this software?  The short answer is that most of the time, you will need some kind of expert help. Unless you have people in-house who have experience running this kind of project, it will behoove you to bring in an expert who can either drive the project for you - or at a minimum, provide technical guidance.

Remember, this is a critical financial application that is very tightly integrated with your sales and purchasing systems, so it’s important to get it right.

Your automation experts can help you define a best-practice design and they often have pre-developed methodologies and document formats for the implementation. More importantly, they bring experience in how to best handle your tax requirements and they know what the tax software can do and how it integrates with your ERP system.

Ask around. You can find these experts from a number of sources:

1)  Accounting firms – the Big 4 and even a few of the smaller firms have dedicated tax automation practices.  Hourly rates and experience levels could vary from first-year associates to heavy senior managers and directors. Keep in mind the potential SOX issues with hiring a Big 4 firm if they are your auditors. 

2)  Automation firms – smaller firms that specialize in tax automation implementations.  Typically run by Big 4 alum, rates are middle of the road and these firms offer both functional and technical support. For example, they can handle both your tax design and your technical build (including ERP configuration and programming). 

3)  Consulting firms – the ERP practices of global consulting firms may either have full-time tax automation experts or they bring in subcontractors who are. 

4)  Independents – single contractors. Independents typically bill lower rates per hour, but might not have the same network of colleagues to reach out to when they encounter a tough issue. 

5)  Tax Software Vendors – the tax software vendors either offer consulting services and/or they can refer you to certified partners who do (typically from the list above). Check out the tax vendor websites for their implementation partners. 

At a minimum, talk to a couple of consultants and find out what to expect for an implementation. It will give you a sense of what they can offer and how it supplements your internal IT team. It is well worth an hour of your time.

Other recent “Sales Tax Automation & Software” posts by Suzy Soo:

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