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Case study: Specialized

Automating tax at every stage of a global supply chain for the world’s leading cycling brand

Key points

Fully automated tax determination for 16 countries based on local tax logic.

100% compliance with tax legislation in each country involved in Specialized's global supply chain.

The peace of mind that comes from complete accuracy in every single transaction.

About Specialized

Specialized is one of the most popular and iconic brands in the cycling industry. Founded in 1974, it is famed for producing high-quality bikes and apparel that are adored by cyclists around the world. Specialized is owned and run by cyclists, who are always on the lookout for new ideas, markets and adventures to share with their customers.

Although we haven’t been in business quite as long as Specialized – eight years versus almost 50 – upon working with the business we immediately identified a multitude of shared values and goals, as well as similarly substantial passion for innovation within our respective industries.

Our team of functional tax consultants worked with world-leading cycling brand Specialized to bring bespoke tax determination and reporting solutions to its updated Oracle R12 ERP. This involved:

  • Complete automation of Specialized’s tax processes through a complex supply chain across multiple countries from the Far East to Europe and beyond.
  • End dating the previously basic tax configuration found within Specialized’s Oracle R12 instances – to building automated tax processes that ensure 100% accuracy and compliance with local tax laws in 16 countries.
  • Extracting the detail from every transaction to ensure fast, accurate tax reporting to achieve ultimate compliance.
  • Sanitizing and rejuvenating OTC and P2P processes with the standard Innovate Tax global solution.

What’s the story?

Specialized has been a long-term investor in Oracle software products. It originally started by using the Oracle 11i ERP, but in 2017 decided to upgrade to the new version, R12.

Specialized hired a team of outsourced Oracle specialists to complement the range of skills possessed by its in-house team and implement R12. In time, the project was completed and the new R12 solution up and running. However, soon after go-live, Specialized identified a gap in its ERP: a lack of tax-specific functionality.

Innovate Tax was selected to manage the implementation of automated tax determination technology within the business’ Oracle ERP.

By investing in the Innovate Tax solution, Specialized would be able to automate its tax calculations, processes and reporting; all in accordance with the local rules and rates in each of the countries in which it was liable to pay tax.

This was especially important to the company due to the complex and lengthy supply chain it was involved in.

Our solution also enabled Specialized to sharpen the accuracy of its input VAT data for recoverability, generating a long-term benefit to its balance sheet.

The company’s bikes started out as component parts in the Far East, where much of its manufacturing also takes place. They were later shipped through countries in Asia en route to Europe. Specialized, which is based in the Netherlands, would subsequently move its products on to retailers in all major markets around the world, creating a truly global supply chain.

It meant Specialized was liable to pay and recover taxes in numerous countries – a process that simply could not be completed efficiently and accurately without an industry-leading automated solution.

The project

As many businesses have discovered, the move from 11i to R12 is far from straightforward when it comes to tax. Very few tax capabilities are contained within 11i, whereas R12 comes with a powerful tax engine built in.

We’ve seen this catch out numerous companies over the years; tax professionals typically realising upon launching R12 their existing tax configuration and processes are wholly inadequate if they are to realise the potential the latest version offers.

Another common mistake is to ‘lift and shift’ basic tax codes, rendering the contemporary functionality of R12 useless.

In this case, not long after launching R12 the weaknesses of basic tax configuration within the new environment were highlighted. Specialized realised the only way it could implement a comprehensive tax automation platform that would deliver 100% accuracy was to enlist the services of a tax technology specialist.

Having been selected by Specialized, we implemented our industry-leading automated tax determination solution with country-specific tax logic for every nation in which Specialized had tax registrations and compliance requirements. This was supported by our Rapid Install toolkit and global repository for tax logic.

In total, the cycling brand required our specific tax logic for 16 countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.

The results

We implemented an automated solution for Specialized that delivers:

  • Fully automated tax determination for 16 countries based on local tax logic.
  • 100% compliance with tax legislation in each country.
  • Complete accuracy in every single transaction.
  • Round-the-clock access to our support desk, ensuring smooth and efficient running at all times.
  • Bespoke, real-time reports that safeguard Specialized’s commitment to compliance.
  • Insight and expertise; similar to having its own internal tax technology department.

Since the successful completion of the project, we have undertaken further work for Specialized, including:

  • Adding two more countries to its automated tax solution. This process took a matter of days thanks to our flexible architecture.
  • Ongoing support to help Specialized manage shifts in the indirect tax landscape due to Covid-19, Brexit and other developments. All country-specific VAT updates are implemented with ease by our support desk.
  • The imminent addition of our LimeLyte analytics tool to its tax platform.

Our solution digs into the detail of every transaction in Specialized’s ERP to ensure the correct calculations are made; all with minimum human input and faster than ever before.

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