Top 5 Mistakes During SAP Rollouts To Latin America

Scott Lewin
September 21, 2015

Over the last few years, I have spoken with many organizations who have implemented SAP ERP across Latin America as well as many that have either canceled the project or have support and change management nightmares on their hands. Here are the top 5 reasons I see projects fall off the rails.


  • Thinking that Latin America is similar to European Rollouts — yes there is a similarLearn the top 5 Mistake Made During a SAP Rollout concept of VAT tax; however, the complexity of the tax laws and the pace of change to those laws are often overlooked. I have seen projects that have been underestimated by hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions because the amount of localization requirements and unit testing were underestimated.  In addition, thinking the invoicing process or solution being used in the US or Europe will support the LATAM requirements and processes is a major misconception. 
  • Latin America can easily be moved onto a Financial Shared Service Platform — many companies are looking at consolidating repetitive business processes in centralized groups. And Latin American countries can be transitioned, it is not as simple as just passing an invoice off to a global account payables team.  Because the government is involved in literally every single invoice transaction, this also means that any changes (i.e. Credit/Debit or even product codes) has to be coordinated with the government systems.  For example, in Chile, an AP team has 8 days to approve or reject a supplier e-invoice. After 8 days, this invoice is considered to be locked and can no longer be cancelled by a supplier. Instead, the invoice must be adjusted by the supplier registering a Credit/Debit Note that references the original invoice. 
  • An Invoice In Many Countries Acts as a Bill of Lading – In Brazil for example, one NFe equals one truck – meaning that you would not have an NFe spread out over multiple shipments (i.e. partial shipments). This is because the Invoice (Nota Fiscal in Brazil terms) acts as a bill of lading that allows the legal movement of the goods through out the country. If a truck were ever pulled over, a customs agent, weigh station clerk, or police officer could ask to see the PDF version of the Invoice accompanying the truck, scan the bar code and do a real-time check to ensure the goods on the truck match what was registered with the government. Overlooking the linkage and importance of real-time support equals complete shut downs of your operations. 
  • SAP ERP is not the Financial System of Record — This one always amazes me. A company will spend millions on implementing and training staff, but all of the invoicing and government reporting is left to local providers.  This leads to multiple issues: 
  • Data in your SAP system is often different than the 3rd party reporting system. Why? Because changes are often made to data to ensure the reports that are sent to the government are correct and those changes are done outside of SAP. Isn’t the purpose of implementing SAP to have visibility, governance, and control of your financial data.
  • Violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — Remember that FCPA doesn’t just cover bribery. The premise of the legislation is all based on executive management having accounting visibility and controls in place to avoid fiscal issues.   
  • MOST IMPORTANT — CONSTANT CHANGE AND SUPPORT — Because Latin America is constantly adjusting their invoice and tax regulations, global consolidations always underestimate the cost of support and change management after go-live. Change affects the SAP Center of Excellence in two ways: 
    • Fire-drills are often the response to change as the requirements only get to the corporate teams once it is too late — expensive resources are pulled off innovation projects and piled on to fix the short term maintenance problem.  This expense on top of new software updates and external subject matter experts runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars  to millions a year for multinationals with operations in multiple, mandated countries.
    • Global regression testing — as with all ERP vendors, the localization requirements are released for older versions; however, implementing those notes in your customized and highly configured ERP system that may have 35 countries running on the same template is not as simple as just uploading a note or two.  

So if you are embarking on a SAP ERP Rollout to Latin America — ensure you partner with those that have done the implementation before, and make sure you do the cost analysis of the real cost of the rollout — the cost of supporting and managing the pace of change. It is after year 1 that the cost traditionally spike.

To learn more about how to leverage mandates in Latin America, download the Definitive Guide to Ensuring Compliance Across Latin America.

Sign up for Email Updates

Stay up to date with the latest tax and compliance updates that may impact your business.


Scott Lewin

Gain timely insight and important up to the minute information about the current legislative changes in Latin America, including Brazil Nota Fiscal, Mexico CFDI, Argentina AFIP and Chile DTE. Learn how these changes affect your operations, your finances and also your Information Technology teams.
Share This Post

North America Sales & Use Tax
June 1, 2023
3 Things to Remember if You Get a Sales Tax Notice

Have you ever received a sales tax notice from a state department of revenue? Whether you answered yes or no, there are important things to keep top of mind to help keep your business prepared. Finding out that you have failed to comply with one or more of your sales tax obligations can be startling. […]

North America Unclaimed Property
May 30, 2023
How to Set Up a Successful Unclaimed Property Program

Unclaimed property compliance can be difficult and overwhelming. Clients often ask what they should be doing to ensure they are compliant with the various laws and regulations. It isn’t easy, especially if you have multiple property types such as checks, credits or customer accounts that have the potential to become unclaimed property in multiple states. […]

North America ShipCompliant
May 30, 2023
How Hold At Locations Improve Your Customers’ Wine Delivery Experience

Direct-to-consumer shipping wine lovers enjoy the convenience of having their favorite vinos shipped to their front door. But what happens when, for whatever reason, they aren’t available to accept their wine deliveries? Whether they aren’t available during the day or they don’t have someone 21 or older available to sign for their package, these challenges […]

North America Sales & Use Tax
May 30, 2023
Identifying Sales Tax Liabilities and Why They Matter

By Steve Claflin, CLA It’s incredible that it has now been five years since the landmark Wayfair decision. It seems like just yesterday we were reading the case, alerting clients and tracking the ever-developing state guidance. Unfortunately, many companies still are not familiar with their sales tax filing obligations caused by economic nexus, or they […]

North America ShipCompliant
May 25, 2023
Out-of-State Breweries Gain Self Distribution, DtC Rights in Oregon

Under a settlement agreement, breweries located outside of Oregon now have more options for selling into the Beaver State, including direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping and self-distribution to retailers. The settlement arose out of a lawsuit filed by a group of Washington breweries last year challenging Oregon laws that limited beer self-distribution to in-state breweries and DtC […]