Today, tax has a vital role to play in everything a business does, from managing risk to driving growth. As compliance demands increase across the world, tax activities are being placed under a microscope by the public, the media and authorities. At the same time, tax teams are continually embracing ever-advancing technology, from data analytics to intelligent automation.
Clearly, the tax function is changing dramatically. So must its people. Good talent is as important as ever. But faced with new responsibilities, capabilities and operating models, tax departments require new skill sets and approaches to meet the organization’s tax needs.
From an organizational standpoint, most tax leaders believe tax specialists should collaborate closely with the rest of the organization, even outside of finance. Forming productive and mutually beneficial relationships with many different functional groups enables tax to better understand and support the business strategy, while gaining both the respect and opportunity to contribute their unique perspectives to important business decisions.
Tax leaders take different views on outsourcing. While it is a clear way to save on headcount, they are challenged to effectively leverage outsourcing models, especially when dealing with multiple service providers. Strong internal oversight of external workers — especially those handling sensitive data or working directly in the company’s systems — is essential to maintain control of processes and information.
Many CTOs envision a more centralized tax function that relies less on outsourcing and more on local staff and contract workers supported by new technology. But augmenting the work of tax professionals with technology is a complicated matter.
For one, some workers fear they will lose their jobs to automation. CTOs use a variety of strategies to get buy-in for automation projects, including demonstrating how people will actually benefit: They can spend less time on mundane tasks and more on interesting, high-value work. They also emphasize the risk to the organization of getting left behind.
— Do your tax professionals possess the business skills and perspectives necessary to deliver valuable insights up the chain? How can you help them develop better business acumen?
— How has the adoption of new technology affected your tax department staff? Do your people require new skills to realize the expected return on your technology investments?
— What tax processes do you outsource and what do you keep in house? How do you maintain control and oversight of multiple service providers?