Oracle Fusion Tax – The Good – The Bad – the Ugly
I consider myself one of the leading Oracle R12 eBTax experts around, as it does not matter what module you need tax to be driven from, what country you are rolling out to or how fast you need the solution, there is no one that can touch eBiz Answers and our team for R12 eBTax. We recognized that tax is tax and as such, we brought you a third party tax solution without the need for a third party product with our ‘eBTax Rapid Install™‘ tool that all but eliminated the most time consuming part of eBTax which is the configuration. It took us a long time to develop the eBTax Rapid Install™ and you can imagine our apprehension when we found out several years ago that Fusion Tax comes with inbuilt spreadsheet loaders but as a huge supporter of the eBTax product, it also made a lot of sense and was excited about converting our solution to be loaded via the spreadsheet loaders. Whilst I heard rumors that the loaders were not what they were cracked up to be it was not until i had to start using these spreadsheet loaders that I too side with those that think they are far form perfect and in fact, for eBTax, I would go as far as saying they didn’t work properly right up until release 11. The take more time to figure out and can only load a fraction of the information that you actually need with some frustrating bugs that don’t always do what you think is meant to happen!
So, the good, the bad the ugly, my first thoughts on the Oracle Fusion tax solution.
I will start with the good as there are some fantastic new features. Fusion tax now incorporates Withholding tax! For years I have been telling people that Withholding tax is not a tax but the withholding of payment linked to tax and so is not under the tax remit but now it certainly is. Using the tax logic you can design much better logic to drive the withholding tax. Thresholds have now been introduced so the min/max issues of old are now gone. But the star of the show is without doubt the tax simulator. You can now enable taxes just to be in use for the tax simulator then enter test cases which not only tell you what tax has been calculated but every details of the rules and conditions analyzed to get to the tax. Its a fantastic tool. A couple of years ago I demonstrated how it was possible to take an existing transaction, from production and import it into the tax simulator where you could then work on it to find out what the issues were. This type of tool gives so much power back to the tax departments to do their job that it wont be long where tax authorities are going to insist that other ERP providers follow suit and allow the tightening up of tax reporting.
Without doubt, the spreadsheet loaders are the biggest disappointment but they will be the biggest hit once they are fully working. To set up 30 countries properly manually to make them fully automated can take almost 100 days of configuration! So the spreadsheets were meant to be a savior in loading the data in but one of the reasons why our solutions can take up to 4 days per country to configure is because we load the rates with everything we can, the legal justification text, tax reporting codes etc, much of which is simply not available on the spreadsheets. Some of the issues we have come across with the spreadsheets are that you cannot load negative tax rate percentages – great if you want to load offset taxes! the ‘Is Blank’ operator was not recognised in earlier releases and some of the templates have hard coded data in the validation preventing you from putting your own data in. OK so you can remove the validation and put what you want but the fact the validation exists in the first place – interesting decision? One of the other major floors is the fact that you cannot reuse a determining factor set with other rules! What I mean by this is that i create a determining factor set that I have conditions that are used by my STATE, COUNTY and CITY taxes. If I first load the rules for the tax then try and load the rules for the COUNTY and CITY it fails (hopefully by the time you read this this bug will have been fixed)! If I rename the determining factor set, it accepts the COUNTY and CITY tax rules and ironically duplicate conditions have been created with the same name that normal validation prevents you from doing! So many of the fields are missing to load data into, severe bugs in what data can be loaded (even down loaded data cannot be re-uploaded) and the fact you have a one time chance to get things right makes it very difficult indeed.
The ugly has to be the navigation. Sure, the ‘configuration tasks’ have been put in some sort of order to help make configuration faster but all the quick navigation has gone. Rather than being able to move effortlessly from a tax rule to a tax rate to a tax party profile, now you have to search manually each time for what you want to do. I know Oracle had a directive to make it easier to roll out Oracle applications so they can compete with the more nimble ERP solutions like MS Dynamics but seriously – whats wrong with keeping all the tax set up together as it was, at least tax the setup tasks so you can search for all that are linked to tax. If I am investing in a global roll out I am not going to get my IT graduate to ‘have a go’ and instead get skilled consultants in. If anything, the biggest failure by Oracle is not by making setup hard but allowing 3rd party integration partners to put in poorly designed and poorly built solutions that don’t touch the huge potential Oracle has to offer. And it appears that Fusion Tax has the same issues with the focus spent on a quick and easy path to get tax set up rather than making it easier for experienced consultants to maximize the functionality.
The search functionality should come under all three categories because in some ways it offers a much better way of searching for data with more options but then the bad is that saved searches don’t pull back the data you want in many cases and ugly because you cannot search using a wild card only! In some cases you choose the search to look for values that are not blank which should bring everything back but this does not exist everywhere.
As a consultant, the new functionality offers so much more, the ability to provide to your clients the full tax solution but there are too many bugs right now that need ironing out and because Fusion Cloud is being pushed so much without the ability to make corrections to the back end data even in test instances, the frustrations and extra time needed to set Fusion tax up are going to back fire on many companies who will fix price set up – my advice is don’t fix price anything when working with Fusion!