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Life beyond go-live: How to ensure your tax project delivers in the long run

Whether you are implementing a tax engine for a new ERP, moving into new territories or absorbing an acquired business, the size, scale and complexity of the project facing you makes it an all-encompassing and draining experience for even the most experienced tax professionals.

Projects such as these always include a variety of stakeholders – tax, IT, finance and normally a system implementer – all of which are pushing towards a common vision and goal: Go-live!

Unfortunately, I hear of far too many cases in which the vision does not extend beyond the go-live date. Go-live is seen as a definitive moment in time; a time when teams can tick off the project for good and return to their everyday jobs or focus on other upgrades.

At Innovate Tax, we believe this is a fundamental failure in a tax project and something we always strive to avoid with our clients.

What happens post go-live?

In most projects, the tax and/or IT teams will receive a small amount of hypercare and knowledge transfer, while it’s possible they will be provided with some system documentation. Although, in our experience, documentation is usually thin on the ground; if not non-existent.

Indeed, in the most extreme scenarios we’ve seen, life beyond hypercare is incredibly daunting. You become responsible for a complex system armed only with limited understanding and minimal documentation of what has been built.

After all, the system implementer has long since packed its bags and moved on, IT has switched its attention to the next project on their long list and the tax and finance teams are left to their own devices with the new solution.

Most people have heard of the bell curve theory, which is so true when it comes to tax technology. In terms of how resources, focus and energy are expended, it looks like this:



And so often history repeats itself when it comes to the consequences.

Remember a project or transformation has usually started due to degradation of some sort being identified and acted upon. Thousands or millions of dollars are spent to remedy the issue, go-live is accomplished and sadly, all too often the decline begins again almost immediately.

This is simply because your business does not stand still. You will continue to:

  • Expand into new territories.
  • Add new business entities.
  • Create new business lines.
  • Change existing business lines.
  • Acquire or sell businesses.

How does change impact your solution?

In some businesses, managing the tax engine is the responsibility of the in-house IT team. But I often hear they are too busy with incumbent projects and marching towards a go-live date. What’s more, IT does not have a deep understanding of tax, which ultimately impacts the design of the tax engine.

The alternative is that the tax team is left to manage the tax engine. In this scenario, the opposite is true. Tax teams truly and deeply understand tax requirements, but translating this into a technology solution is challenging.

That means, in the majority of cases, the result is that neither IT nor Tax has a holistic view of the tax engine setup and understanding of how new requirements may impact the existing configuration.

Of course, there is one solution that allows businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds: the relatively new role of the tax technologist. However, it’s worth remembering tax technologists are in extremely high demand and the required skillset is in scarce supply so this is still not a realistic option for some firms.

What’s the answer?

We believe the best way to overcome these challenges is to align your business with a tax technology partner that fully understands the complexity of your global indirect taxes, as well as the technology that underpins them.

Having an ongoing relationship with a specialist partner beyond go-live will ensure the tax engine is maintained and adapted to meet the barrage of future requirements that will inevitably be thrown at you.

It’s also imperative to the long-term health of the tax engine and, of course, your financial investment.

Secondary to this, working with a tax technology partner also frees up precious time for your tax and IT teams. They will benefit from the security of knowing there is an expert who can step in should a problem or requirement arise.

At Innovate Tax, we’re trusted by over 50 global businesses operating in more than 150 countries to manage their tax determination needs across a variety of systems – including the likes of Vertex and Thomson Reuters.

We even provide our Support & Maintenance service to businesses using systems we did not implement. Regardless of whether we were involved from the start of a project or not at all, we can still offer the ultimate support service to ensure a solution is upgraded, refined and maintained to continue to deliver optimum performance for the long term.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we can support your project beyond go-live.