Envision and achieve an optimal future for your tax department

If your tax department isn’t acting as an internal business partner, contributing to the growth of the whole organization, adopt a vision to fill that role and help make it happen. Fulfilling a corporate vision will raise the focus of your tax specialists from compliance and transaction activities to strategic collaboration and planning.

Assess your starting point, determine components of your corporate vision Awareness of the department’s current status is a necessary first step in knowing what needs to change as you create your vision of the future. Begin by assessing the view taken by senior executives and others in the organization. Do they see the tax function as:

  • A transactional and compliance-based function?
  • Operating separately from the rest of finance?
  • Operating independently of the rest of the organization?

A more ideal future will encompass participation in strategic planning at higher levels, active collaboration with other departments and senior leadership, and broader responsibilities for risk management. While the corporate vision you create will be unique, it should include these common and valuable components:

  • A business partnership with the entire organization
  • Integration and alignment with the finance function
  • Capacity for effective decision-making
  • Expansive tax planning and minimization capabilities
  • Well-leveraged analytics and insight
  • Technological proficiency
  • An agile and skilled tax workforce
  • Appropriate risk mitigation and controls

Structure the process of bringing your corporate vision to life Throughout vision creation and implementation, leadership buy-in — including C-suite support — will be vital to ensuring cooperation and adherence to plans. A successful outcome that will be recognized and accepted throughout the organization depends on leadership at various levels.

Collaboration among departments and functions is also crucial. Choose a transformation team that comprises representatives from key areas, including finance, IT, HR, foreign controllers and others. Determine responsibilities and schedule frequent meetings to map progress. In addition, consider sourcing options for expertise or availability not found in-house. Avoid allowing the process to bog down because of lack of the right people to fill important roles.

With a team in place, the vision will take actual form through establishment of project and change management, goals and measurements, and technological tools.

Project management — Identify an owner-champion to oversee the transformation process. Remove other duties so that the project manager is committed full-time to the tasks that will bring the vision to reality.
Change management — Cultural resistance to change is to be expected; increase engagement and build toward ultimate adoption through a structured approach that begins with an explanation of the benefits of the vision. Earn buy-in by being transparent throughout the process, providing updates and meeting deadlines for incremental achievements.
Goals and measurements — Segment the long-term goal into increments, with a timeline for each achievement and key performance indicators to describe the incremental wins. Build goal expectations into participant reviews.
Technological tools — Assess data sourcing, systems and capabilities, and if necessary, reconfigure or upgrade. Plan for appropriate training of personnel.

Leverage technology’s potential in realizing the corporate vision Advanced data analytics and business process automation offer immense benefits in constructing an optimized future. Advanced data analytics produce information and insights for decision-making and securing the respect of your transformation partners. Business process automation provides efficiency to free up time and attention for more value-added activities.

An advanced analytics platform supports optimization through access to a variety of data sources; data preparation, exploration and visualization; project management; deployment of models and integration into business processes and applications; and risk mitigation through substantiating controls.

Business process automation provides the means to shed manual labor so that attention can be turned to the higher-level processes of an optimized future. Assign to automation the mundane tasks that entail high volume, manipulating data, frequent changes in underlying data (e.g., rekeying, recalculating), high-error rates and standardized procedures.

Tradition → Transition → Transformation Showing foresight in creating a corporate vision and demonstrating the ability to make the vision materialize will result in a more robust tax function and develop within the organization a new appreciation for the contributions of the tax department.

Mark Quiroz
Managing director
Tax Accounting Risk Advisory Services
T +1 312 602 8093

Jay Turchin
Tax Accounting Risk Advisory Services
T +1 212 624 5210