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Conference Recap: 2019 Synergy ONESOURCE

By: John P. Bennecke James T. Hedderman Alexis Bergman Anli Chen Jennifer Crawford Lauren Ansley David Flores Bryan Perrone |

True Partners was once again a sponsor of Thomson Reuters’ Synergy ONESOURCE conference, which took place November 10-13, 2019 in beautiful Aurora, Colorado. We’ve been working with ONESOURCE tax solutions for over a decade and during this time the platform and users’ abilities to leverage outside technology have grown exponentially.  This year’s conference focused heavily on the use of third party technology platforms, such as Alteryx, for automation of tax department processes.  In addition, a new buzzy acronym made the rounds at this year’s conference – “API” – which stands for Application Programming Interface. Technological advances and partnerships spanned each area of tax, from income tax compliance and ASC 740 reporting to indirect tax compliance.

True Partners’ professionals attend the Synergy conference for training and to stay current with trends in tax technology. This year’s trends focused heavily on automation solutions, a few of which we’ve summarized below.

Special thanks to the ONESOURCE team for always putting on a great event – we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference in Dallas!

1. ONESOURCE and Alteryx Partnership:

Technology has been driving corporate (and public) organizations forward for years.  Organizations seek out additional efficiencies to free up already burdened human resources, and to reduce risk by improving internal controls around key processes (like the income tax provision).  Technology improvements are all around us and tax professionals are taking advantage.  This year more than any other, the topics of robotics and data analytics were incorporated into almost every presentation in order to demonstrate how tax departments can utilize technology to save time and reduce errors within their processes.

“The biggest shift I’ve seen from ONESOURCE users is that the majority of our clients are stepping up from being curious and speculative about the new tools, to proactively embracing the new technologies into their processes.  100% of the audiences have heard about Alteryx; over 60% of them are using Alteryx in some capacity.  My prediction is it will soon, if not already, become standard practice within the tax industry.”Anli Chen, Director, Chicago

In March of 2019, Thomson Reuters and Alteryx, Inc. announced a strategic partnership through which they plan to revolutionize how tax departments use and manage their data.   Alteryx allows tax professionals to create a visual representation of a workflow or process within their department.  These workflows range from simple, repetitive tasks to those that require a large amount of data input, data manipulation, and data analytics.  Alteryx allows tax professionals to build their own “robots” to perform these tasks for them.

So what does this mean for tax departments?  It means:

  • Less time spent manipulating data
  • Reduced risk of human error in the tax processes
  • Potentially better data and more time to model different tax scenarios

We’re excited to partner with Alteryx to implement their solutions for our clients and our own internal processes. Our ability to leverage these data solutions will enhance our client service and enable us to consult about the power of robotics in different tax environments.  As clients seek to implement new solutions, there is, understandably, a concern that organizations need to dip their toes in the water before they jump in the pool. We’ve assisted many clients to successfully implement software solutions and can help you embrace technological change and guide you through the challenges of change management.

2. Application Programming Interface:

API was a new focus at this year’s Synergy conference.  APIs, which have been around for quite a while and are more commonly known within the IT developer space, are a relatively new term to us in the tax space.  As a tax professional’s role becomes more data and technology driven, the importance of leveraging these types of tools increases.

“So I’m really interested to learn how these mysterious APIs, Application Programming Interfaces, can help us make processes more efficient.”John Bennecke, Managing Director, Chicago

APIs allow a user-interface software, such as ONESOURCE Tax Provision, to communicate with other systems or platforms in tax organizations. It allows two (or more) platforms to communicate with one another without the need for human involvement.  For instance, if there is a report in the legacy financial reporting software that must be pulled weekly in order to facilitate sales and use tax compliance, the user-interface software can request that data directly from the reporting software in a specified format.  These connections may also be utilized within a broader robotics process to increase the speed and efficiency of extracting and utilizing data.

Tax departments are now becoming more aware of how APIs can increase efficiency and reduce risk of errors in their processes.  This, coupled with the increased focus on speed-to-close of the income tax provision process, is continuing to drive departments to streamline processes using APIs.

3. International Tax Calculator:

Tax professionals are still wading through code sections, final regulations and proposed regulations related to all topics in international tax.  As a result, this year’s conference continued their focus on the international tax calculator (“ITC”) function of their ONESOURCE Tax Provision platform.

“I’m excited about a lot of the automation processes that ONESOURCE has rolled out for international compliance. Hopefully I can bring that into some of the projects I do to improve overall efficiency & add value to the client in other ways.”Doug Moore, Senior Tax Consultant, Tampa

Following the release of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), the complexity and scrutiny on the international tax portion of the income tax provision increased tremendously.  In order to aid in the process, ONESOURCE released updates and refinements to their ITC application.  The calculator works with the ONESOURCE tax provision software to calculate international items including GILTI, FDII, BEAT, and a number of other calculations.

Companies are still weighing their options for how to implement software solutions for these calculations.  How has your company and its approach to the tax process changed to incorporate this new compliance and income tax provision challenge?

4. ONESOURCE University:

In an effort to provide end-users with more training on their own schedule, ONESOURCE has implemented ONESOURCE University Online Learning Platform.  This platform provides training for all levels of tax department personnel, guiding them on how to utilize the functionality of their software through online courses or in-person workshops.

“I am most excited about using the University Portal to be able to see videos on how to use ONESOURCE and how to be more efficient … We will also be looking into getting ONESOURCE certified to show our clients that we have in-depth knowledge of the system, from both a user and an implementer standpoint.”Raluca Romonti, Manager, Tampa

As a result of these learning programs, ONESOURCE has also implemented a Certified Users Examination and Certification Program.    In order to be certified, one must take the OneSource Certification Exam. Those wanting to get certified can either (1) take a related course in preparation for the exam or (2) attempt the exam without the training course in the case of those with practical, hands-on experience. The exam can be taken online and consists of 60 questions that must be completed in under 120 minutes with a passing score of 80%. The certification confirms that the user has fundamental knowledge using the system from both a federal and state perspective for the domestic exam.

Check out what the TPC team feels will impact their clients the most by reading the quotes highlighted throughout this post.  There were 12 of us at the conference this year and we anticipate that number will continue to grow. We’re excited to help our clients embrace technological change through our Tax Technology Transformation services – learn more on our website.

Thanks again to the ONESOURCE team for their continued vision and dedication to education and training. We hope to see you in Dallas next year!