Automation is a concept that’s had the business world abuzz for some time now. Leaders from nearly every industry praise automation for streamlining cumbersome or lengthy processes across the organization. Every functional area can benefit from it, and the tax department is no exception.
Tax workflow automation is a game-changer, but that doesn’t mean implementing it is easy. If your tax team is resistant, keep reading for some steps you can take to address their concerns—and turn them from opponents into proponents.
How To Convince Your Team To Adopt Tax Workflow Automation Software: 4 Steps
Before you try to rally your team around the idea of new tax software, it’s important to understand the reason behind their hesitation. In most cases, it’s fear— fear of the unknown, fear of change, or fear of being replaced.
You won’t get far by simply sharing neat software features that caught your interest while searching the market. It’s going to require a sit-down with your team that starts with a discussion around their current pain points:
- Do they not have enough time to address all relevant tax concerns?
- Are they unsatisfied with the tools they’re currently using, or feel the tools they’re using aren’t suited for certain areas of tax (e.g., property tax)?
- Does your manager believe there’s a lack of visibility around tax-related metrics and task statuses?
Once you get a handle on the above, proceed through the following steps. They’ll help you get your tax team on board with tax workflow automation.
1. Shift the focus from negative to positive.
For team members who are under the impression their jobs will be eliminated or diminished once automation is implemented, assuage their concerns. Help them understand that automation is about taking more mundane tasks off their plate so they can focus on more high-value activities.
For example, many property tax teams handle a lot of physical mail that they manually stamp to show the date of receipt. They also use wet signatures on most or all of the tax documents they submit. Both of these time-consuming tasks can be eliminated with tax workflow automation.
Data extraction software like MetaTaskerPT automatically scans received mail and extracts key data, and records the date of receipt for later reference. Similarly, property tax software like TotalPropertyTax (TPT) automatically applies digital signatures to important documents such as tax returns.
2. Connect tax workflow automation software with the ability to work remotely.
With more tax teams working away from the office (especially in the wake of recent global events) it’s beneficial to have software that supports the distributed nature of remote work. Tax workflow automation transforms paper-based, in-office processes into digital ones.
For example, physical tax bills are a hindrance to working remotely. A traditional workflow would have tax bills moving from desk to desk for review, approval, and payment slips. In an automated tax workflow, the tax bills are scanned and passed along within the system.
The digitization of the bills prevents them from being lost or damaged, and the automation component ensures bills are sent to the next appropriate party instead of sitting on someone’s desk because the person neglected to pass them along.
3. Share the analytical capabilities the team will gain.
Many tax teams perform the same functions every year in the same manner and with the same set of criteria. This is generally because they lack insight into ways to improve, whether that be through increasing their operating efficiency or reducing their tax liability.
Consider a property tax example—specifically, depreciating assets. Most tax teams report assets under the same categories from one year to the next. However, using property tax software like TPT makes it easy to analyze your depreciation options. There may be another suitable category that depreciates an asset more quickly, thus lowering its value and the resulting tax burden.
4. Explain the resulting increase in visibility.
Visibility informs and empowers good decision-making. Paper-based tax workflows limit visibility and reduce efficiency, as managers have to check in with team members to get status updates and verify assignments. In contrast, tax workflow automation puts managers in the driver’s seat, enabling them to quickly gauge team capacity and task progress.
For example, TPT includes a tax calendar that shows deadlines for upcoming returns, notices, and tax bills. You can stay on top of due dates and assign work accordingly. The solution also includes a dashboard that provides a high-level view of property tax status, including how many returns, notices, and tax bills are outstanding vs. ready to be processed vs. completed.
In line with visibility is auditability—tax automation workflow solutions like TPT ensure you always know when and where documents are accessed.
Automation Implementation: 4 Tax Workflow Best Practices
Once you’ve convinced your tax team to adopt tax workflow automation software, next up is implementing the solution. Here are a few important considerations as you make the shift.
1. Leverage your historical data.
Just because you’re using new software doesn’t mean you should start from scratch. Much of the analytical capability of property tax software like TPT comes from historical data you’ve accumulated over time. Previous years’ filings, asset values, and so on are great for prepping the system so you can go live with data that’s ready for reference and comparison for your next return filing.
2. Ensure your data is clean before migration.
A great deal of tax data is inaccurate, corrupted, incorrectly formatted, duplicated, or incomplete. Migrating unclean data can limit the capabilities of your chosen software solution.
For example, if you import a tax record with the wrong account number, you won’t be able to match it with other records from that account. As part of our implementation process, the CrowdReason team works with you to ensure data is clean before starting the migration process.
3. Keep the lines of communication open with the solution provider.
The solution you choose will become the foundation of your tax workflows, so it’s important you share everything you’re looking to accomplish—even “special case” processes you don’t think the system can address. It’s better to communicate those processes and verify whether the system is able to handle them, than have your team be burdened with unnecessary inefficiencies.
At CrowdReason, our clients have often been surprised at all the workflows our solutions are capable of automating. Even in cases where a workflow wasn’t supported at the outset, our team made note for future reference—sometimes even implementing said workflow as a standard feature.
4. Walk through your workflows in the system.
The last thing you want is to spend time and energy migrating to a tax workflow solution that you don’t know how to use properly. You may not know all the ins and outs when you’re just starting out, but it’s essential to understand exactly how to perform your key workflows within the solution.
The CrowdReason team focuses heavily on training both during and after implementation. We walk clients through basic processes like returns filing and bill paying within the system, identifying the differences between their traditional workflows and the automated ones. For any “special case” processes, we either showcase how those can be performed, or how our system can support them.
For example, some jurisdictions send a single tax bill that includes numerous accounts. To keep track of this special case, some clients manually copy the bill for each account or key in the amounts for each account. But MetaTaskerPT can accommodate this case by automatically parsing the multi-account bill into single bills that match with each account in TPT.
Achieve Peak Efficiency With CrowdReason Software
CrowdReason is at the forefront of modern tax processes. If your tax team is looking to save time and ensure accuracy, we can help. Our tax experts have created two value-packed tax workflow automation solutions to automate and improve your workflows: data extraction software MetaTaskerPT and tax management tool TotalPropertyTax.
See for yourself how our advanced automation software works—schedule a demo of MetaTasker and TotalPropertyTax today.