Richard Cornelisse

Indirect tax function effectiveness: It is about the Right Number, Skills and Capabilities

In Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Processes and Controls on 18/06/2014 at 12:00 pm

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The indirect tax department consists of the right number of tax personnel and the right level of skills and capabilities to be successful.

In order to realize the mission statement in the tittle of this paragraph the following also needs to be assessed to test whether set objectives can be actually realized:

  1. Are the right tax competencies available?
  2. Is enough skilled tax personnel available?
  3. Is there access to external expertise in a timely manner?
  4. Is there sufficient budget available to realize objectives, considering the tasks and responsibilities assigned to our tax department?

Technical tax expertise has become more a basic skill from the adviser’s perspective. The soft skills of the adviser are—and will become—the key differentiator. Due to all of the technological developments, this is already part of our present and future. Technical tax advice must be implemented in systems, processes and controls. Instructions must be given to people who are outside of the tax function. Alignment with the business is essential for the tax function to plan in a timely manner and to avoid future firefighting.

In order to challenge and support a client in his mission, an adviser should possess—in addition to excellent technical skills—a clear understanding of communication and collaboration, project management, change management, information technology, negotiation and leadership. All of these skills are needed in order to be successful.

This applies to both the individual adviser and the organization that has the objective of achieving or maintaining market leadership.

The indirect tax profession has been an individual sport for a very long time. The profession is still about the individual’s technical tax strength and personal practical experience, and the supporting staff are often trained by that individual.

It is my opinion that the indirect tax professional of the future will need to take a different approach.


It is simply no longer possible to excel at everything regarding global indirect tax management. Thus, some people can excel in certain areas of indirect tax, and the overall outcome of the team’s effort will make the real difference from a quality standard perspective.

“Break down barriers and improve teamwork up, down, and across organizational lines. A considerable amount of money is lost due to disconnects or competition between groups that should be working for a common cause: providing value to customers” Jack Welch

In other words:

“One man’s weakness, is another man strength, so let’s team up” Richard Cornelisse

Read more about Change Management and KPIs in following articles:

Via Setting The Objectives Of The Tax Function / Richard Cornelisse

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