Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Transforming Tax Departments into Strategic Entities

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 1, 2016 8:20:35 AM

The steady march of technology’s ability to handle ever more complicated tasks has been a constant since the beginning of the information age in the 1950s. Initially, computers in business were used to automate simple clerical functions, but as systems have become more capable, information technology has been able to substitute for increasingly higher levels of human skill and experience. A turning point of sorts was reached in the 1990s when ERP, business intelligence and business process automation software reduced the need for middle managers. Increasingly, organizations used software to coordinate activities as well as communicate results and requirements up and down the organizational chart. Both were once the exclusive role of the middle manager. Consequently, almost every for-profit organization eliminated management layers so that today corporate structures are flatter than they once were. Technology automation also eliminated the need for administrative staff to perform routine reporting and analysis. Meanwhile, over the course of the 1990s, the cost of running the finance department measured as a percentage of sales was cut almost in half as a result of eliminating staff and because automation enabled companies to scale without adding headcount. During the last recession, companies in North America and Europe once again made deep reductions to their administrative staffs, relying on information technology to pick up the slack.

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Topics: Sustainability, ERP, Governance, GRC, Human Capital, audit, finance transformation, legal, LongView, Tax, tax compliance, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Oracle, CFO, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, international tax, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Giving Tax Departments More Corporate Clout

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 7:57:13 PM

One of the issues in handling the tax function in business, especially where it involves direct (income) taxes, is the technical expertise required. At the more senior levels, practitioners must be knowledgeable about accounting and tax law. In multinational corporations, understanding differences between accounting and legal structures in various localities and their effects on tax liabilities requires more knowledge. Yet when I began to study the structures of corporate tax departments, I was struck by the scarcity of senior-level titles in them. This may reflect the low profile of the department in most companies and the tactical nature of the work it has performed. Advances in information technology have the potential to automate most of the manual tasks tax professionals perform. This increase in efficiency will enable tax departments to fill a more strategic, important role in the companies they serve.

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Topics: Big Data, ERP, Governance, GRC, audit, finance transformation, legal, LongView, Tax, tax compliance, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Oracle, CFO, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, international tax, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Tax Data Warehouses Become Essential as Governments Raise the Ante

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2014 9:19:04 PM

I’ve written before about the increasing importance of having a solid technology base for a company’s tax function, and it’s important enough for me to revisit the topic. Tax departments are entrusted with a highly sensitive and essential task in their companies. Taxes usually are the second largest corporate expense, after salaries and wages. Failure to understand this liability is expensive – either because taxes are overpaid or because of fines and interest levied for underpayment. Moreover, taxes remain a political issue, and corporations – especially larger ones – must be mindful of the reputational implications of their tax liabilities.

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Topics: ERP, Governance, GRC, audit, finance transformation, legal, LongView, Tax, tax compliance, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Oracle, CFO, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Vertex, FPM, Innovation Awards, international tax, Thomson-Reuters multinational

Longview Tax Software Helps Tax Departments Be More Strategic

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 22, 2014 10:40:56 PM

Longview Solutions has a longstanding presence in the financial performance management (FPM) software market and was rated a Hot vendor in our most recent FPM Value Index. Several years ago it began offering a tax provision and planning application. I think it’s worthwhile to focus on the tax category because it’s less well known than others in finance and is an engine of growth for Longview. We expect larger corporations increasingly to adopt software to manage direct (income) taxes to improve the quality and efficiency of what today in most companies is an inefficient, spreadsheet-driven process.

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Topics: ERP, GRC, audit, finance transformation, legal, LongView, multinational, Tax, tax compliance, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), CFO, FPM, Innovation Awards, international tax

Oracle Hyperion Products Challenged by New Generation of Expectations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 16, 2013 7:22:36 AM

Oracle continues to enrich the capabilities of its Hyperion suite of applications that support the finance function, but I wonder if that will be enough to sustain its market share and new generation of expectations. At the recent Oracle OpenWorld these new features were on display, and spokespeople described how the company will be transitioning its software to cloud deployment. Our 2013 Financial Performance Management Value (FPM) Index rates Oracle Hyperion a Warm vendor in my analysis, ranking eighth out of nine vendors. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of technology suppliers and their products and how well they satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our assessment reflects two disparate sets of factors. On one hand, the Hyperion FPM suite offers a broad set of software that automates, streamlines and supports a range of finance department functions. It includes sophisticated analytical applications. Used to full effect, Hyperion can eliminate many manual steps and speed execution of routine work. It also can enhance accuracy, ensure tasks are completed on a timely basis, foster coordination between Finance and the rest of the organization and generate insights into corporate performance. For this, the software gets high marks.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Social Media, ERP, forecasting, Modeling, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, driver-based, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, Hyperion, IFRS, multinational Oracle, process management, report, strategy, Tax, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Oracle, Accounting, CFO, Chief Financial Officer, compliance, Data, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Price optimization, Profitability, SEC Software, spreadsheet