Part II of V – Oscar Caicedo, Vice president of product management for VAT Americas, Sovos
Click here to read part I of the series.
Government-mandated e-invoicing laws are making their way across nearly every region of the globe, bringing more stringent mandates and expectations on businesses. Inserted into every aspect of your operation, governments are now an omni-present influence in your data stack reviewing every transaction in real time as it traverses your network. Real-time monitoring has also brought about real-time enforcement that can range in severity from significant fines to shutting your business down completely. All of this has created a new reality for IT leaders who need a strategy to deal with these global changes. We asked our vice president of product management for VAT, Oscar Caicedo to offer his guidance on how this will affect IT departments and how they can best prepare.
Q: With government authorities now in companies’ data and demanding real or near real-time reporting, what impact will this have on IT departments?
Oscar Caicedo: For me, this breaks down into four distinct categories:
1. Business Process Architecture – As regulatory entities become more advanced, it is important to look at the overall functional business process, not only the technical mechanism to report. Many business processes were solidified much before current capabilities were readily available. It is important to revisit the business process to be able to determine the best technical path forward.
2. Source of Truth – With the complex environment IT departments must navigate, you need to redefine the expectations of data/process source of truth. Back-end system ecosystems were not built with current compliance/regulatory needs in mind. In mature markets, where governments continue to advance technical capabilities, it is critical to have a clear strategy to protect against source-of-truth risks. Otherwise, local regulatory entities tend to become the ultimate source of truth.
3. Data Aggregation/Reconciliation – A lack of clarity on the source of truth for each functional business process can lead to major risks. Registering data in real time with local regulators was the initial challenge. The current challenge is ensuring all systems involved are maintained in sync and are always fully harmonized. IT departments must recognize it is now a must-have to navigate the current environment.
4. Master Data – Data in back-end systems was already complicated enough to support in a centralized manner. Once real-time regulatory needs were introduced, the data issue got exponentially larger. Data structures, data libraries and extraction programs are all attempts to solve the problem, but normally these attempts fail due to gaps in understanding what is mandatory vs. optional. Clear guidance on the local needs is critical before deciding on a technical strategy.
Q: To meet government mandates and ensure operations continue uninterrupted, what should IT prioritize? What approach would you recommend?
Oscar Caicedo: I would prioritize a clear regulatory understanding of the markets/geographies in which you operate. This seems obvious, but it is not always the case. Ninety-nine percent of the time when I speak with a large multinational organization, they are not clear on the needs of the local market. Efforts to centralize or take a cohesive approach fail because key IT decision makers didn’t understand the regulation.
In addition, you need to focus on business processes and the data requirements to make them successful and solve the problem end to end. The challenge does not end with registering data. The problem ends when you have the proper visibility, maintenance, support, reconciliation and intelligence to be fully prepared.
Don’t take chances. The regulatory environment is very dynamic, so it is important to ensure the proper testing of all business scenarios needed to operate. Failure to have clear testing scripts can lead to surprises in production environments, which can carry large implications for the operation.
Finally, consolidate as much as possible. This means simplifying end points, communication protocols, data structures, etc. This will allow for a more efficient way to manage the mandated processes in the different jurisdictions.
A lot has changed in the world of government mandated e-invoicing. Continued investment in technology by government authorities has put regulators in the position to demand greater transparency along with more detailed and real-time reporting. To meet these demands, companies are looking to their IT organizations. The good news is you don’t need to go it alone. Sovos has the expertise to guide you through this global evolution based on our experience working with many of the world’s leading brands.
Need help keeping up with global mandates? Get in touch with Sovos’ team of tax experts.