Meeting ATO requirements with ease: Antares data transformation robot streamlines tax compliance reporting

Can a robot help multinational companies streamline global tax compliance? Here’s how Antares helped a leading tax reporting software provider develop an intelligent data transformation solution.

Overview

Wolters Kluwer is the world’s largest provider of tax and accounting information services. Its software development arm, CCH, has an established platform for tax compliance reporting software known as CCH Integrator. CCH Integrator is one of the only cloud-based software solutions capable of managing global tax compliance, with widespread adoption among multinational corporations.

The challenge

In June 2016, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) introduced stronger tax reporting requirements for multinational corporations with annual global income exceeding $1 billion. As part of these changes, the ATO mandated country-by-country reporting of tax information as part of a suite of international measures to combat tax avoidance.

To support country-by-country reporting, the ATO introduced strict standardised reporting requirements. Instead of providing a zip file or hardcopy records, multinational corporations must now submit financial records electronically using the ATO’s prescribed XML schema.

The new reporting requirements presented a substantial challenge for many multinational corporations. The burden of the complex data formatting, packing and transmission activities needed to complete the reporting was significant. Many of these activities cannot be performed efficiently with standard business management software tools such as Microsoft Office, which created another hurdle for corporations required to partake in country-by-country reporting.

Although CCH’s tax compliance reporting software assisted with country-by-country reporting efforts, corporations were still required to:

  • Collate data from multiple sources
  • Transform the data into an appropriate format for the software
  • Enter data manually
  • Undertake complex reporting

Recognising the inefficiencies in this process, CCH needed a new solution to streamline the reporting process. It sought to improve user experience and strengthen data integrity.

The solution

CCH engaged Antares to design a solution that would assist multinational corporations to complete country-by-country reporting. CCH recognised Antares’ team as both R&D specialists and solution delivery experts, making them the perfect choice for designing a complex new software solution.

Antares adopted an agile approach, working in sprints to design a custom solution to overcome CCH’s specific challenges. The solution that emerged was an intelligent robot (‘Bob the Robot’) that could extract unstructured data from source systems, as well as learn information about the context of the data to minimise future effort.

Modeled on Microsoft Office platforms, ‘Bob the Robot’ has a familiar interface and operates as a single portable self-contained Robot (.robx file). It works to improve the submission of country-by-country reporting data in the following ways:

  • Import data: Users can import raw unstructured data files from the general ledger, accounts payable, account receivable and other source systems to integrate information in a single location.
  • Teach Bob: As an intelligent robot, Bob can learn about specific data preparation processes, such as embedding a corporate dictionary of terms or stipulating transformation rules. Rules can be stored, repeated and reviewed at any time, eradicating the need for users to design complex manual spreadsheets.
  • Run Bob: With data imported and rules defined, ‘Bob the Robot’ cleans, filters, groups, summarises and transposes financial information into the ATO’s prescribed output. In doing so, they automatically populate disclosures in CCH Integrator.

“We engage Antares regularly to help to innovate and come up with solutions using newer technology sets.  The Antares consulting team, led by Johnny Chung, continue to deliver above our expectations, challenging our thinking in terms of what can be achieved with technology and delivering a quality deliverable that our end users can rely on.  In the latest project, Johnny and his team helped to develop a solution to transform the way in which accounting and tax professionals transform data into form ready for easy consumption by CCH Integrator.  Using Robotic Process Automation principles, we developed a Data Transformation Robot called “Bob” who can be taught by accounting tax professionals to automate mundane data manipulation typically performed in Excel by highly paid professionals.  The result – after 8 months of design, development, QA and market testing, we have a product which has already been delivered to over 20 major Australian corporations to help reconcile their intercompany transactions.” – Jim Edwards, Global Director – CCH Integrator at Wolters Kluwer

 

Result

‘Bob the Robot’ has transformed the user experience and quality of country-by-country reporting data. It has streamlined preparation, review and electronic filing processes, freeing tax professionals to focus on strategic operations rather than burdensome reporting.

  • Speed to market – Antares’ agile approach helped CCH deploy a successful project in just five months. While the ATO defined reporting requirements, CCH rapidly built and launched a solution to streamline the reporting burden for its users.
  • Time savings – Clients using CCH Integrator say the solution has reduced the time taken to prepare reports from several days to just one hour.
  • Easy to use – ‘Bob the Robot’ is easy to use and requires minimal training. The highly flexible tool deals with any source data format, making it easy to interoperate with other data management solutions.
  • Machine automation ‘Bob the Robot’ automates routine, complex and mundane data preparation tasks. It forces data assumptions to be documented and made transparent for easy repetition, review and knowledge transfer.
  • Data integrity – Users upload files into a purpose-built, rules-based system, rather than relying on spreadsheets. ‘Bob the Robot’ filters, cleans, validates, enhances and summarises transactions directly into the ATO’s reporting files with accuracy.
  • Risk mitigation – ‘Bob the Robot’ provides a clear audit trail of how ATO reports are prepared, which supports data visibility and transparency.

CCH has launched ‘Bob the Robot’ to assist with country-by-country reporting in the coming tax year. With the solution live, Antares is gathering user feedback to guide future product development.

What next?

While there is more data available than ever, its value can only be realised when used to generate information, knowledge and actions. That’s why Antares specialises in implementing data solutions that both align with business needs and deliver results quickly. For more information, contact us: info@antaressolutions.com.au.