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Using Alteryx to automate accurate VAT returns: How we’re helping Lumen meet MTD requirements

In recent months, we’ve been working with global telecommunications provider Lumen to design a novel tax box reporting solution that blends data extracts from its SAP and Oracle ERP systems, with the powerful data automation processing capabilities of the Alteryx platform. And now it’s time to share the details of an innovative and highly successful project.

Lumen Technologies, formerly known as CenturyLink, is itself a provider of disruptive enterprise technology solutions and an advocate of leveraging digital solutions to streamline business processes.

As such, Lumen was already using Alteryx throughout the organisation in a variety of applications, which then posed the question: could Alteryx somehow be used to benefit tax reporting as well?

Lumen brought us onboard to devise a means of using the platform to consolidate vast amounts of data sets and time-consuming manual processes needed to compile tax report submissions. The landscape was set to focus on the UK HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) regulations, with tax box allocation a key consideration.

What’s the latest with MTD?

As part of the MTD regulations in the UK, businesses can no longer carry out any manual data manipulation in order to generate a VAT return.

This means thousands of businesses across the country that were used to dealing with tax manually must now find a robust and reliable technological solution to ‘digitally link’ the requisite VAT calculations into the return, without human intervention in between.

It’s a huge step on the path to truly making tax digital, but it understandably presents a major challenge for businesses that have become accustomed to using people and paper to file VAT returns.

What did this mean for Lumen?

The change in regulations had a considerable impact on Lumen as, prior to working with us, it had multiple manual steps in place – typically completed by its tax team using Excel – to transform its raw data into the final nine boxes of a VAT return.

What’s more, the Lumen team had to complete this laborious process every month; costing them precious time and carrying a substantial risk of human error.

How did Innovate Tax and Alteryx help?

We created a series of automated process flows within Alteryx to perform a myriad of functions and actions against data pulled from SAP S4/HANA and Oracle to replace the manual entries and steps formerly undertaken by several individuals in the Lumen finance team. As a result, the process of producing timely and accurate VAT returns has been simplified and the risk of error eliminated.

The Lumen team now simply input raw data reports within the Alteryx system, press the ‘go’ button and sit back as their completed VAT return is instantly filled with accurate data, produced and delivered – assuring high data fidelity and MTD compliance in every single reporting period.

What benefits has Lumen enjoyed?

Through implementing an Alteryx-driven process, we have delivered on our first promise to Lumen: to ensure it is fully compliant with the new MTD rules. Lumen has invested in best-in-class technology that offers a guarantee of success.

But the advantages of deploying the Alteryx solution extend far beyond simply meeting the latest set of industry regulations. They include:

  • Saving time each month. As the processes behind completing a VAT return with Alteryx are already programmed in, the time required to run all its VAT returns has been reduced.
  • Alteryx allows all functions, processes and workflows to be reused month after month, year after year, making it an immensely user-friendly way of managing VAT.
  • We know better than anyone that you can’t put a price on guaranteed compliance, but even so, the Alteryx solution is remarkably cost-effective and a shrewd investment for any business.

Our previous work with Lumen

We first worked with Level 3 Communications in 2016. Level 3 would go on to be acquired by CenturyLink, which was later rebranded as Lumen. At that time the company was an Oracle eBTax user and its tax solution was a hybrid of the functionality contained within Oracle 11i and R12.

Our initial project involved implementing our industry-leading automated tax determination and reporting solution within the business’ Oracle ERP for 37 countries around the world, before completing a re-implementation for the US and Canada.

We’re delighted that our solution has allowed CenturyLink (now Lumen) to achieve significant time and cost savings, while achieving optimum compliance through automation, in recent years. We look forward to working together again in the future.

Why not catch up with the full details of the project in our CenturyLink case study?