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2020 has reached the mid-year mark and Avalara is delivering a live presentation on this year’s sales tax changes. The report takes stock of what’s taken place in the world of sales tax since the year began. This includes emerging trends, unforeseen changes, and the curveball this year threw the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us for a live webinar presented on July 15 at 1 pm by the sales tax experts at Avalara on their 2020 Sales Tax Changes Midyear Update.

COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hamstrung brick-and-mortar commerce with a tremendous shift to digital operations and eCommerce.

All the while, businesses scrambled to deliver on fulfilment obligations to customers, remain solvent, and even retool to meet the demand for specific products.

Governments addressed the issue in a number of ways, with delayed VAT filings or temporarily cut the VAT rate for industries bearing the largest impacts. For example, the United States pushed back to state and federal income tax deadlines. This provides more time for individuals and businesses to file and pay.

2 Years Beyond South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.

If you recall the 2018 United States Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the ruling enabled states to tax businesses that have economic activity but no physical presence in the state. Otherwise known as economic nexus. It was a big deal. It still is. At the time, only a handful of states moved on the new ruling and began charging states without physical presence sales tax.

Fast-forward to the June 2020 sales tax situation and the vast majority of states have signed on to adopt these economic nexus laws. COVID-19 has only heightened awareness among states that remain on the fence and it won’t be long before these convoluted rules apply to all 50 states.

States Need More Money

As the last six months have proven, the states are on their own in a number of social and economic areas. As the pandemic continues to send shockwaves through economies of every scale, states are sure they’ll need to supplement their coffers one way or another to remain effective in serving their residents. 2020 sales tax rules for individual states are likely to change to address the need for making up lost revenue.

Digital And Streaming Services Can Expect To Pay More

If you haven’t heard of Zoom or GoTo Meeting, chances are you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months. States are anticipated to raise taxes on these heavily utilized platforms. As a result, digital meeting and entertainment services are likely to see sales tax legislature expanded at their expense.

More Collection Requirements For Marketplace Facilitators

Marketplace facilitators like Etsy, Amazon, eBay and others, are expected to collect and remit sales tax at an increasing rate. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most states already have such laws governing marketplace facilitator sales tax collections on the books. Just four states remain in this situation in the entirety of the US. One is already closely eyeing the implementation of such legislation.

The Dynamic Nature of 2020 Sales Tax

Nothing is guaranteed but death and taxes. Unfortunately, sales tax rules seldom retain the same state for very long. The last six months have seen reductions or eliminations of sales tax rules for feminine hygiene products. There’s even been discussion within some regions on the elimination of sales tax for firearms. Now, groceries are a focal point for communities hardest hit by job loss and economic downturn.

You can read more in Avlara’s comprehensive report, here: 2020 sales tax changes midyear update.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


As more and more of our ERP implementation and Upgrade customers find their business operations slowing and project teams moving into remote-based roles, I am frequently asked:

  • Does it make sense to continue our project?
  • Can we be successful while working remotely?

Maintaining Project Continuity

It may not seem like it, but slower times in your business can actually be turned to your advantage, and work to drive a rapid, and successful project.  Some typical project challenges are listed below, along with how you can turn a period of slowness in your business, into an accelerated plan to implement or upgrade, such that your new system is ready when your business is. Project continuity will ensure that any active or planned undertakings continue to make use of any momentum that preceded a period of disruption.

Systems Design

While we move to design a system for our clients that correctly supports their desired future state, it’s very important to be able to model end to end processes with subject matter experts in the business.  This can be challenging as these individuals are almost always key business roles, and it is normally difficult to get dedicated time.  With more bandwidth for each subject matter expert (SME) to work remotely with the lead on our side, the process modeling that can sometimes take months or more can be compressed into just a few weeks, leaving us plenty of time to complete any gaps – like custom screens, reports, or integrations –  so that the system is ready for your team.

Education 

It is common during a project for end-users to struggle to find time to attend education classes, workshops, and to make time to do their homework while they keep up with the demands of their 9 to 5 job.    This can be a good time to allocate some time each day for them to focus on learning the system, and ensuring readiness for UAT and cutover.

User Acceptance Testing

Ideally, project team members all need to get together to run high-value business streams through the designed system, to validate all gaps are closed, and the system is ready for production use.  These UAT exercises take key people out of their jobs, for a period of several days.  While things are slower, an activity like this can be tightly scheduled, such that this demanding exercise is out of the way, and the system is ready when business picks up.

As a consulting firm, we are accustomed to working remotely.  As such, we can assist your own project team to be able to be effective and productive, even if much of the team are working from their homes.  The key is to define roles and tightly scheduled tasks within our clients’ organization, build a collaborative way for issues to be logged and addressed, and with a good schedule in place, set periodic meetings to review issues, answer questions, adapt to change, and foster constant communication.

Things Encompass can work with your project team to do are:

  • Define a point (SME) for each business group
  • Set up a tracking system that the client and ESI can collaboratively use to track issues.  We are currently opening our own system to customers, via a web-based portal, free of charge.
  • Set periodic team meetings with SMEs to review critical issues, and let them get updates from Encompass on anything that we have been asked to assist with.  Early morning,  and right before lunch are typically times to meet.
  • Have each SME/Lead funnels all issues from their department to the portal at the end of the day- including questions from their team.  The SME can then set a priority on issues, which might range anywhere from ‘I can’t perform a process’ to ’nice to have in Phase 2.  This is the input to the morning meetings, where the customer’s internal project manager, and the Encompass project manager can set further prioritization as needed.

We realize that while you probably do not want to cut over to a new system while most of the team are remote, we can definitely plan intelligently for project continuity.  By leveraging some of the available time your team has right now, work together to accelerate your project, such that your business can go live as soon as you are ready, rather than trying to restart a project right as things get busy.

I am always available to take a call and help you work through a process that will work for your organization, to ensure project continuity with remote team members, and to prepare for success when things return to normal.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


What’s your hull?  When was the last time you dry-docked your business?  How can you leverage COVID-19 shutdowns and downturns to revitalize your core business systems to emerge stronger, faster, and leaner after the pandemic storms have passed?

If you’re like us, you’ve spent a lot of time asking critical questions about how COVID-19 will affect you, your employees, and the future of your business.   At Encompass, we’ve been talking a lot about dry dock.  When a ship needs critical work on its hull, it is pulled out of the water into a ‘dry dock’ for inspection and repairs.

This is hugely expensive.  It’s hugely inconvenient, too.  Taking a ship out of water is the equivalent of locking the doors of your business.  We all do that for holidays (fun and predictable), year-end inventories (predictable but never fun), and occasionally because life is unpredictable and sends us surprises like snowstorms and power outages.  But most of us have never shut down our businesses for an extended period of weeks or months the way a ship is taken out of the water for months in dry dock.

COVID-19 changes that.  Some of you sent staff home and locked the gates.  Some of you feel like the gates are locked anyway because your customers are sheltering in place at home.  Some of you saw your entire supply chain shut down and fall apart.  In some way or another, most of us are in dry dock right now.  It’s expensive, outside our control, and hugely inconvenient.

If we’re all dry-docked anyway, how can we take advantage of a complete system shut down and upgrade our business ‘ships?

What’s your hull? When was the last time you dry-docked your business?

If your business is a ship in dry dock, the hull represents your critical systems.  Do you have areas of your business that desperately need overhauling, but they are too integrated in your daily routine to ever take them offline?  This could be:

  • Network and server setup that impacts the security of your systems.
  • ERP modules you paid for but never implemented.
  • Part BOMs that have been inaccurate for years.
  • Financial, engineering, and manufacturing configurations that drive you and your staff crazy.
  • Cleaning up old, bad MRP data so your ERP can run MRP, scheduling, and purchasing accurately.

Encompass is using our own dry-dock time to upgrade and improve the systems that run our business.  We’re keeping staff engaged on continuous improvement projects we never have time to work on when we’re running at full capacity.  And since we are working on systems, this can all be done remotely.

What can you do to improve your systems?  Right now, your best staff members are probably sitting idle.  They’re afraid of COVID-19.  They’re afraid of losing their jobs.  And they’ve been frustrated for years because they know how to improve your systems but never have time to work on them.

How can you leverage the recent shutdowns and downturns?  Can you use idle time to revitalize your core systems?  What will make you stronger, faster, and leaner once this storm blows past?

Do you need our help?

If you’re reading this, know that Encompass chooses who we partner with.  We pick and choose customers, and we’re with you today because we fundamentally believe in your business.  We want you to survive and thrive.

If you do need help, we started preparing ‘dry dock support’ packages for our customers in late January, and we’re geared up to offer support with:

  • Remote workshops on all core Epicor modules to help your team identify best practices, plan, prep, implement, and process improvements across the system.
  • Rapid implementation of new modules. Right now is the easiest time you’ll ever have implementing scheduling, quality assurance, landed cost, and other new functionality.
  • Report development and customer and supplier communications right out of Epicor.
  • Coaching on how to optimize projects when your team is working from home.

Let us know what you need.  Or just touch base and let us know you, your team, and your families are OK.  We like you as people, and we like being in business with you.  We’re all in this together.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Business continuity can be disrupted in a number of ways, such as natural disasters, scaled back staffing, security breaches and infrastructure failure. Most businesses have a hard time adapting to new ways of working when the everyday is interrupted. Manufacturing companies tend to have unique business cases and their own unique set of circumstances to address when external forces alter the here and now. However, preparedness and technology can support business continuity and ensure operations continue to run smoothly. Here is how some of Encompass Solutions’ customers are currently managing operations in a disruptive environment.

M Holland Company – Business Continuity Amid Disruption

At M. Holland Company, our IT support staff is used to providing remote work support to our international team of sales employees, but with the recent change in safety and health hazards, our entire operations office location has gone fully remote. This proved to be a challenge when employees who are usually in the office are now working from their homes. We have found that a lot of the pain from these users is the fear of the “unknown”. New types of issues arise when they are working from home; these are different than the normal ones we see every day in the office. We’ve been able to provide top notch issue resolution and training for our newly remote workers by utilizing instant messaging, video, and voice solutions through Microsoft Teams. Taking the extra time to call our users, normalizing the use of video chat, and screensharing has helped our team be more accustomed to the work from home setting. IT support can still deliver the same level of support, with “digital” face to face contact. This extra support in these challenging times has improved morale for our operations users, which helps them continue to support our sales teams efficiently while working in their new remote environments.

Lauren Palmer-Smith – Team Lead, Innovation and Technology at M. Holland Company

National Tube Supply – How Encompass Is Bridging The Gaps

I want to let you know that the partnership we have with Encompass is invaluable.  The support you continuously give our organization and the expediency with how you react to our ever-needing changes is sincerely appreciated.

I found out yesterday that we are the only steel tube distributor in Illinois that is “set up” the way we are.  We had the vision and expertise on our side that allowed us to react quickly to this current environment.  Our competitors still have all their employees going to work and are not able to have them work remotely.  Since our business is deemed “essential”, we remain open and we have the piece of mind knowing our employees are safe at home and still able to be 100% productive.

We had a project slated for Production at the end of Q2 and as a result of COVID-19, many customers requested this be expedited. Jarrad Kitching and John Ramsay (and our own Eileen Hankosky) once again, came though for us and hit it out of the park.  We went live on Tuesday. Three months ahead of schedule.

Michele Markowski – Board Member at National Tube Supply

Manufacturing is an essential industry, for some, now more than ever. We remain a dependable partner for our customers to turn to when their process and technology needs demand expert assistance. Our commitment to supporting our partnerships has been in place since the beginning of each relationship and will continue to grow through these trials and what may come.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass has helped modernize operations and automate processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.