Conspicuously Absent from Tax Transformation is … Transformation

Instead, the delusion of transformation is rife!

Acknowledgement Simon Butler and his book of the same name

Tax Transformation efforts have become almost ubiquitous, at least in name. Yet, when measured against recognized references such CXO Transform, Digital Transformation People, or the teachings of taxology, they frequently have little or no transformation in them.

This is a shame because it is now a prerequisite for genuine success in the digital realm.

So, why is it missing? Well, for two main reasons. Firstly, it is challenging and hard; and secondly, it is the polar opposite of all that’s familiar (hint: the clue is in the name, “transformation”, that is the end state bears little or no resemblance to the start state).

Surely, it cannot be that different“, the people cry, “It’s still just a project, right!?”.

No, not really – it’s more of a journey than a project, and there are some outlandish aspects to deal with. For example, the more than you learn about it, the more you realize you must take into account that under true digital transformation:

  1. Automation is not the main objective;
  2. A meaningful project plan is all but impossible;
  3. It cannot be mandated or controlled;
  4. The tax SMEs no longer know the requirements; and,
  5. A direct ROI cannot be determined.

These are radical reveals to say the least. Some of the points can be argued but they do demonstrate the depth of the discussion around transformation. However, the following are far less disputed:

  1. It starts with a vision, not a plan;
  2. It is driven entirely by people, process, technology, and ‘data’;
  3. Pre-digital cultural imprints must be broken;
  4. Outcomes are uncertain; and,
  5. It requires leaders and leadership, not managers.

So, what does your current tax transformation effort look like? Is it driven by requirements, process maps, MS Project Plan, KPIs, RACIs and slideware? If so, then discovery, digital learning, effective explore workshops, tolerance for failure, and above all, ‘data’, are all being suppressed, and real transformation cannot take place. It is a delusion and your project should be renamed “incremental improvement”.

In a way this is fine, but it offers no response to digital disruption in tax. That requires new thinking, stout souls, and “unfriending” some old faithful ways that are quashing innovation. Otherwise, you are sure to overspend, underachieve, miss expectations, and probably end up with more problems than you started with. You also avoid creating the new future that the digitalization of tax demands.

In truth, you probably need both for a while, but for the sake your initiative, your organization, your colleagues, your career, and the tax industry as a whole, please take a step back and look again at the true nature of digital transformation. It is no longer an option.

SNI Tax Digitalization Online Symposium , 15 June 2021, 2pm CEST

“Taxology” means understanding tax technology without having to know IT.

Evidence from the street suggests that without taxology, tax technology almost always underachieves.

Therefore, tax professionals must become familiar with the basics to help them navigate their careers as digitalization takes hold.

To learn more, join us at the SNI Tax Digitalization Online Symposium, 15 June 2021, 2-4 pm CEST.

Get all the benefits of a full conference including networking in just 2 hours free of charge.

Register online :


Tax and Technology – Still WiP?

Married, but uncomfortable bedfellows.

The spring round of conferences is drawing to a close and it’s clear our industry is in robust health. Attendances were good, conversations were unfettered and it’s great to see how technology for tax keeps moving forward.

However, something else stands out. The gap between the capability offered by tax technology and the degree to which those capabilities are capitalized upon effectively by customers is wide, and if anything, growing wider.

There’s no doubt that corporate tax people now accept the role of technology as integral to the function, but they’ve not yet worked out how to get the best from it. They somehow still expect it to work like a smartphone app. It doesn’t. They keep trying different options until it does. It won’t.

How can it? A smartphone app deals only with a single, tiny, personal aspect of a person’s life while tax technology must reach ever further across the complexity and vastness of corporate organizations. Nor does it work like Henry Ford’s assembly line for the Model T or the robotic arms that assemble microchips.

But why not? The answer is data, or to be exact, enterprise data. That enigmatic, frustrating, monstrously potent, ephemeral, technicolor dream-coat that is data, and the root behind the phrase, ‘knowledge is power’ (and after all, tax people are knowledge-workers). Unleashed data can exercise operational control across the globe while you sleep and give you superhuman powers, provided you think and harness it correctly. Few do.

In fact, the degree or lack of knowledge about our industry-specific digital world is shocking, so providing better tools is like offering better golf clubs to someone who doesn’t play golf in the first place. And if vendors then try and create clubs for non-players, the end result is no longer golf.

There’s only one thing for it – tax people will have to learn a few, high-level basics, but like long-time singletons adjusting to being newly married, this takes a little doing. We suggest the answer is taxology in an easily digestible form, along with help from ‘taxologist as a service‘.

Until robots learn to play golf by themselves or understand a digital tax solution in all its guises, there’s no other way to avoid the oppression of unruly systems and data, and step out into the digital sunlight.

Someday in the future, people will look back on this day and wonder how we got by. It’s past time to accept that this enduring work-in-progress relationship between tax and technology is unacceptable and do something about it. Come and join those that already have.


Smart Tax Technology on a Roll!

Coming thick ‘n’ fast! Another new release.

Tax is moving into a new phase. The usual strategy for technology no longer delivers. Companies must look beyond simply selecting the next product to install or service to buy for new ideas. There’s a strong sense that something is missing, which makes taxology more important than ever.

So, what’s missing? Certainly, the “people” part of people, process and technology is grossly under-served. Without the right understanding and thought processes, all tax technology strategies lack foundation and are destined to deeply disappoint.

The Smart Tax Technology Certification Program uniquely addresses this problem, and today we are pleased to announce our latest release:

Four Ways to Implement a Tax Engine

Most people don’t know there’s more than one way, and yet how you implement a tax engine can make the difference between confidently stepping full-bore into the digital-era or being a huge waste of time and money. This non-technical document first explains why, and then provides a basis for vast improvement in clear, business-focused terms.

It’s a must for all stakeholders in indirect tax and their service providers at large organizations.

Act Now! One week left before Smart Tax Technology’s price increases to $1,200 (currently $900 for lifetime membership). For tax professionals, there is no greater value to be had in the industry right now. It cannot last!

A New Addition to Smart Tax Technology


   Better Innovation with Tax Technology – The Fundamentals

The Smart Tax Technology Certification Program is again moving forward with a new bonus part for Part #3 Smart Innovation.

“Activity Flow for Success”

It introduces the PawPaw “Y”, an easy-to-grasp diagram that depicts the basic principles for improved technology adoption. It offers vital grounding for the forthcoming Part #3 as well as the entire program.

It is available now to existing members. For those yet to purchase, here again are the key benefits of Smart Tax Technology:

  1. How to streamline local and international tax processes
  2. How to meet the global tax digitalization challenge
  3. How to make technology & enterprise data work for you
  4. How to thrive in the information-age as a tax professional.

Discover the secrets of taxology now!

I learned a lot!
International Tax Director and Smart Tax Technology member