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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.


The free sales tax risk assessment is a self-serve online resource that helps companies determine where they have triggered economic nexus. Companies answer three questions and receive a PDF report that provides a map and details regarding where they have triggered sales tax obligations and which states they need to watch.

Know Where You’re On The Hook With Our Free Sales Tax Risk Assessment Tool

Get a breakdown of states where you may be obligated to collect sales tax. The free Avalara Sales Tax Risk Assessment can help you determine where your sales have created a need to register to collect and remit sales tax — and guide you on a cost-effective automation solution.

Still Need Convincing To Use This Free Sales Tax Risk Assessment Tool?

Has your company triggered economic nexus, or do you want to find out if it has? Try our tax expert partner’s free online sales tax risk assessment today – Avalara will give you your own report.

Selling into states where you’re not physically located? You might be on the hook for sales tax if you’ve sold a certain dollar amount or volume.

Give our tax expert partner Avalara some of your time, and they’ll give you a customized PDF featuring each state where your sales have likely triggered a sales tax obligation and suggestions on an automation solution with strong ROI.

Get a breakdown of states where you may be obligated to collect sales tax. The free Avalara Sales Tax Risk Assessment can help you determine where your sales have created a need to register to collect and remit sales tax — and why.

43 states tax remote sales so it’s hard for businesses with national (or international) sales to know where they’re required to register to collect tax. Avalara’s new tool provides that clarity. Check it out and let’s talk about automating that knowledge.

About Avalara

Offering end-to-end tax compliance solutions to enterprises big and small, Avalara makes automated certificate validation, storage, and management easy. Avalara’s cloud-based sales tax automation software provides accuracy for all of the 12,000+ tax jurisdictions in the United States. Avalara ensures that automating sales, tax calculation, and maintaining compliance are all possible within your existing ERP, POS, or e-commerce system.

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 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.


The article “How to Consider the “What-ifs” in Times of Uncertainty” by Wayne Slater was originally published on the Prophix blog in April, 2020. you can read the original article, Here.

The word “uncertainty” immediately invokes feelings of anxiety and fear. This is not unusual, as it’s a natural human reaction to prefer the comfort of predictability over the vagueness of uncertainty. It’s in our nature to plan our day, week, and year on the data available to us. Businesses and finance professionals are no different. When the future is uncertain, this increases the risk to businesses and anxiety escalates around how to tackle the situation quickly.

Uncertain times are just that, uncertain. They make predicting the future much harder at the precise time you need to plan for it the most. Like people, businesses need to change with the times as well. Plans are no longer set in stone and need to be revisited more than twice or thrice in a year.

The need for active forecasting based on real data is paramount to making well-informed decisions about the future. In uncertain times, it’s all about becoming agile. Think about how the United States went from one COVID-19 case in Jan. 2020 to over 140,0001 by the end of Mar. 2020. Whether your organization operates in healthcare or hospitality, your plans need to adapt quickly because new decisions need to be made. Project management has already started moving from waterfall methodologies to agile for more frequent output. Ask yourself, has this sort of innovation happened in FP&A? It’s high-time finance teams are equipped with the right tools to “shift from generating data to producing insights2” that drive superior decisions.

Get access to our short 20-minute webinar on how your business can better react to and prepare for market volatility with CPM software.

an image of the future-proof your business webinar hosted by Prophix

The World of CPM

Welcome to the world of CPM – Corporate Performance Management – a tool that transforms your finance department by making processes more efficient, agile, and automated, so that you can leverage your data to improve planning, reporting, security, workflows, and consolidations, all while reducing human error. Ultimately, CPM lets your organization be proactive, forward-thinking, and enables finance leaders to better guide the organization during uncertain times.

Agile Scenario Planning

An especially important application in these uncertain times is scenario planning (see Fig.1 for contextual and transactional environmental factors involved in scenario planning). What realities is your business facing? What happens if consumer spending falls by 25%? Or if product revenue falls by 15%? Or customers need to renegotiate payment terms? Whether sales are booming or declining, finance leaders need to go back and revisit their forecasts to assess the impact to cash flow and profitability and set correcting strategies. Having a centralized CPM tool like Prophix can make your life easier because it allows you to easily run scenarios on-the-fly.

Fig. 1: The Role of the Contextual Environment in Scenario Planning | https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/using-scenario-planning-to-reshape-strategy/

an iamge of how to future-proof your business using contextual planning

Powerful tools let you transform your data and allow you to better model your operations, especially in regard to “what-if” scenario planning. Positioning your company for success involves tough modeling to ensure business continuity.

Some industries are experiencing tremendous growth like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and groceries. Concurrently, there are those that are being hit hard financially such as hospitality, aviation, and retail. Cash flow planning becomes critical during uncertain times. With a robust CPM tool, you can easily model changes to your plans and move forward. It’s all about enabling you to plan smartly.

Your finance department probably spends long nights doing month-end and operational tasks. If they’re already spending 80% of their time on transactional tasks, it can be hard to shift focus to complex planning. Is your team equipped and ready to model endless scenarios in price adjustments, changes in capital spending, and fluctuating labour needs? Now, try to imagine a world where you already had a plan and solution in place to successfully steer you out of uncertainty…

Unsure how to move forward in uncertain times? Listen to the upcoming Prophix webinar on the benefits of proactive scenario planning.

Planning for Uncertainty

So, how you do you plan for uncertainty (see Fig. 2 for some tips on scenario planning)? Well, it depends on many factors, but it starts with having a tool that can effectively and centrally manage your data, so that all your users can view and interpret the same information.

To prepare for uncertainty, you need to set the baseline financial plan and the appropriate objectives/strategic goals. Next, prepare for different outcomes by involving more people in your planning process and consider best- and worst-case scenarios. CPM software lets you do this seamlessly through workflow project management capabilities.

Once your data is centralized, it’s easy to assess your performance against planned objectives. As you understand your variances, you can measure performance, visualize the future, and adapt accordingly with agility. Once everyone agrees, you can automate report distribution, buying you more time for value creation and generating insights.

Get your guide to corporate financial planning during the pandemic – watch the webinar.

Fig. 2: The DOs and DON’Ts of Scenario Planning | https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/overcoming-obstacles-to-effective-scenario-planning

an image of how to future proof your business using the do's and don'ts of scenario planning

As you can see, scenario planning is closely linked with both budgeting and forecasting. Things change, uncertainty arises, and plans evolve. In finance, scenarios act as guiding frameworks about events that may or may not take place in the future.

As finance leaders, we must proactively plan for the unknown and incorporate it into our forecasts. We must assess more frequently whether we are meeting our objectives, and if these objectives need to be changed. Scenario planning helps mitigate variances by focusing on the realities of the business. It helps finance leaders manage resources and improve decision-making by considering opportunities and risks.

In summary, the strategy is all about envisioning and implementing ideas and goals that let you compete and win in the marketplace. Don’t let old habits of the past slow down your organization and its predisposition to change. CPM tools like Prophix provide you with the technological solutions that help innovate the Office of Finance in a rapidly evolving environment to give you a competitive edge in a world of big data and increasing complexity.

Consider the “what-ifs” in Prophix’s webinar on proactive scenario planning – watch now.

Join the live discussion with Q&A to learn what CFOs around the globe can do to respond to changing conditions and ensure business continuity while improving planning and minimizing risk.

Footnotes:

1 – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html

2 – https://images.info.deloitte.ca/Web/DeloitteManagementServicesLP/%7B161111db-4cc2-4d68-a272-96bd0a7d551a%7D_ca_en_FinanceTrends_16_3730T.PDF

About Prophix

Prophix develops innovative software that automates critical financial processes such as budgeting, planning, consolidation and reporting — improving a company’s profitability and minimising its risks. Thousands of forward-looking organisations in more than 90 countries use software from Prophix to gain increased visibility and insight into their business performance.

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 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.


The recent Financial Service Network (FSN) survey on Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (PBF) showed two key characteristics for those organisations that produced the most insightful finance forecasts. First, was the ability to leverage non-financial data. Second, was the application of advanced analytics. We will look at how the most successful organisations expand their vision beyond the narrow financial view of the future to produce more valuable foresight in their PBF processes.

Finance: The Home of Truth

The financial component of enterprise resource planning, whether part of a full-fledged ERP system or a mom-and-pop shop running Quickbooks, has historically been the ‘home of truth’. Finance was where everyone turned for answers, since the only quantitative test of performance and sustainability was the P&L and the balance sheet. Finance largely birthed the IT function in a bid to automate the production of some of these answers. Most famously, in the production of payroll. Despite this, finance has now lagged in technology investment for some years, being overtaken by marketing, sales and operations.

With new technology at their fingertips and an increasingly scientific approach, other functions in the business have begun to answer their own questions, collecting and analysing their own data. The numbers in marketing may still be a little hazier than in finance but marketing has begun to offer insight into things that finance cannot, or has not. Market trends and consumer behaviour tell leaders not just about what is but what might be. This forward-looking insight has often contrasted with finance’s view of the future.

The Past, Give or Take

Finance’s view of tomorrow has, by contrast, been rather singular in its source – the past. Predictions of tomorrow have been based on the evidence of the most recent year, with management’s desire for growth most often being the biggest factor steering the positivity, or otherwise, the forecast for the year ahead. Only negative macro factors have dissuaded forecasters from positivity about the bottom line and all the pressure that brings to bear on sales for revenue growth and operations for ever greater efficiency.

The figures from FSN’s report might suggest this had changed. 72% of finance leaders say their forecasting processes are now inclusive, drawing on sources from across the company but dig further into the figures and this starts to feel more like an aspiration than a reality.

78% of the senior finance executives surveyed agreed that greater use of non-financial data is the best way to improve their PBF process and outcomes. 76% recognised the importance of connecting with more stakeholders from outside of the finance function to improve the accuracy of forecasts. The need to connect with other functions and share data is clearly acknowledged.
But 74% say they are struggling to identify all relevant non-financial data sources. Why? Over 55% of respondents say that the lack of involvement of non-finance personnel is amongst the greatest barriers to forecast accuracy.

The obvious conclusion is that the connections between finance and the rest of the organisation just aren’t there.

Additional Barriers

The lack of cross-cutting relationships through the business is not the only issue blocking the better application of non-financial data for improved forecasts. A quarter of respondents say their senior managers do not appreciate the value of non-financial data. And surprisingly, 23% delegate non-financial data tasks to more junior staff despite 43% of respondents ranking it in their top 3 sources of ‘most insightful data’.

Insightful it may be but there remain concerns about the quality of non-financial data when compared to the sources with which finance professionals are more familiar. 41% of CFOs are concerned about its integrity and believe it is less reliable than financial sources. This may well be true but these issues can be addressed, with appropriate weighting and analysis. The potential value of the data is clear, to ignore it would be nonsensical.

Taking Steps

So, how do finance leaders address these issues in order to improve insight into their planning, budgeting and forecasting?

Relationships across the business rely on reciprocation and communication, not just shared goals. Finance has to be able to bring value to the other functions of the business if it is going to extract value back.

That value comes from the insight finance can bring. Most functions in the business are seeking better analysis of their situation and environment, and finance should have the skills to deliver that.

That comes with a time penalty of course but increasing automation of the base functions of finance should be releasing resources. This is a great way to apply the released resources to improve results.

Relationships will be hard to build without the soft skills of communication, and this is another area where finance has historically fallen down. In our interactions with younger members of finance teams, we consistently find a lack of training on offer in anything beyond technical skills. This frustrates the ambitious and leads them to move on. Training then offers a two-fold benefit to the business: better collaboration and a greater chance of retention.

This isn’t to say technical skills aren’t important. Finance leaders need to be constantly up-skilling their teams in planning and analysis, and equipping them with the right tools to apply their learning. Then, they can efficiently integrate non-financial data into their models, improving forecasts and returning value to the other business functions.

As FSN says in its own report, “Mastering non-financial data is the key to being able to forecast accurately and further into the future.” The only way to do this is to enhance the relationships that finance holds across the organisation, by investing in the skills of its people.

For more information on ERP and the future of financial systems, read the FSN report on the topic – HERE

About Prophix

Prophix develops innovative software that automates critical financial processes such as budgeting, planning, consolidation and reporting — improving a company’s profitability and minimising its risks. Thousands of forward-looking organisations in more than 90 countries use software from Prophix to gain increased visibility and insight into their business performance.

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 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.


Budgeting is the lifeblood of any company and there are instances whereby the time the budget is complete, it’s already stale. Spreadsheets may be the go-to choice for budgeting and planning, but they quickly become error-prone, insecure, disconnected, time-consuming, and are non-collaborative. Many companies treat cash as an afterthought, neglecting to forecast the Balance Sheet because it’s simply too difficult. Instead, they rely on spreadsheets to organize data from a General Ledger.

Corporate Performance Management (or CPM) is an umbrella term for software applications that automate your business’s non-transactional processes – specifically picking up where your ERP system leaves off. We’re partnering with the CPM experts at Prophix to deliver a live webinar on Innovative Budgeting and Planning practices.

Budgeting And Planning Webinar

In this webinar, we discuss how to automate your financial processes to focus on analyzing trends in your data, promote collaboration and develop integrated financial planning across the organization.

After this webinar you will know how to:

  • Breakdown the budgeting process in 5 easy steps
  • Automate data entry and spend less time verifying calculations
  • Compare budgets to actuals while maintaining data accuracy
  • Influence process, people and infrastructure through innovation

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.