By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
The tools a tax department uses to work collaboratively can make all the difference in compliance reporting, adaptability and efficiency.“Collaboration tools can help a tax department work in a simpler, well-organized and more secure fashion,” said Dante Colonna, manager of tax automation services at Global Tax Management.
Colonna said collaboration tools can be broken into three functions: communication, document management and security. But before committing to a tool, it’s essential to understand the needs of the department as well as any tools the business has already licensed.
“A lot of times the tax department might not even know that the company already licenses a tool,” he said. “We can leverage that to help them. Other departments might be using it for something different, but we can apply the core functionality to meet the unique needs of the tax team.”
Data visualization can be a valuable aspect of collaboration tools, especially when presenting to internal or external stakeholders. Colonna suggested Microsoft 365, one of the most comprehensive tools that can help professionals present data and numbers in an informative way by integrating solutions like SharePoint, Teams and PowerBI.
Other applications can also assist with SEC reporting, such as Workiva, which allows the user to set criteria within a certain document and assign specific sections to certain individuals.
ONESOURCE Workflow Manager/DataFlow is another popular tool in the tax space, Colonna said, that distributes files, collects data and makes updates to connected files through templates.
“Frequently, tax departments use multiple software products to meet their needs,” he said. “It’s not just collaboration tools, but the way they interact with processes and other technologies within your tax department that creates value.”
But just like any new technology implementation, Colonna said if the change isn’t embraced, including by leadership, there won’t be success in the long run. He said when a team implements new technology and uses it inefficiently or tries to take shortcuts it can be frustrating for all those involved.
“To ensure continual improvement, you really want to appoint a champion that is pushing your tax department forward from a technology perspective,” he said.