Case study: Lumen

Harnessing SAP and Oracle data to power Alteryx automation and deliver MTD compliance for Lumen

An overview…

We recently completed a project with global telecommunications leader Lumen to design a novel tax box reporting solution that combines data extracts from its SAP and Oracle ERP systems with the powerful Alteryx platform, renowned for its immense data automation processing capabilities.

The main achievements of the project included:

  • Utilising Alteryx to ensure compliance with all Making Tax Digital (MTD) regulations.
  • Replacing manual processes within Lumen’s tax team with technology, resulting in time and cost savings.
  • Pulling data from both SAP S4/HANA and Oracle to simplify the production of VAT returns, while guaranteeing 100% accuracy.

What did Lumen require?

Lumen was already using the Alteryx platform in a variety of ways throughout its business, leading its team to question whether it could also be utilised for tax reporting.

At this time, Lumen was also heavily invested in exploring a solution that would allow it to comply with the UK HMRC’s MTD regulations that prohibit manual manipulation of tax data into VAT returns.

Lumen brought us onboard to devise a method of leveraging Alteryx to consolidate the vast data sets and time-consuming manual processes it was previously managing to create tax reports into a streamlined workflow based on world-class technology.

What’s MTD all about?

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.

What did we do?

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 have we achieved?

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.

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.

Key points

  • Automating Lumen's key tax processes within Alteryx.
  • Removing costly, timely manual processes from Lumen's setup.
  • Ensuring full compliance with the UK's Making Tax Digital programme.
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