More and more countries are imposing requirements on organisations to provide Standard Audit Files for Tax purposes (SAF-T), including the UK. HMRC requires businesses to keep their records digitally and provide their VAT returns through Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software as of April 2019. So this seems like an opportune moment to continue my series of blogs about Yellowfin partners by introducing the brilliant 4apps – a business helping tackle the VAT software problem.
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A complete digital VAT and operational reporting solution
Founded in 2001 by Laurens Voogt, Frank Laarhoven, and Diederick Bosman, 4apps is one of the largest and most experienced Oracle E-Business Suite consulting specialists in the Netherlands. They assist their cross-sector European clients with implementation, migration, reporting, and application support and optimisation services. Of the 30 members of staff, over 50% have a background in financial services, which has led to them create two of their own, excellent products.
The first is itax4apps, a virtual VAT declaration, summary, audit, and reporting solution with a Linux operating system and Oracle database. The second is a highly efficient dashboard and operational reporting solution called Yelloobee, which provides clients with 300+ out-of-the-box operational reports.
Yellowfin is incorporated into the two products as the VAT and Operational Reporting Solution, and together they create a complete and highly efficient digital VAT and reporting solution.
Meeting changing global VAT requirements
All over the globe, tax offices are requiring organisations to produce increasing amounts of online data, so that they can audit and validate their tax-related financial positions in near real time. For example, in Poland, businesses are required to deliver all data regarding AP and AR invoices monthly. In Spain, the requirements are even more stringent with delivery expected every four business days. And in Hungary, delivery is within 24 hours after AR Invoice submission. Italian companies are required to provide B2B invoicing through a special tax authority invoicing network before forwarding them to customers. As a result of these diverse requirements, 4apps have customers across Europe, in South Africa, Malaysia and in the USA, including businesses like Huhtamaki, Plantronics, IBFD, and Kramp and Kramp.
itax4apps and Yelloobee, underpinned by Yellowfin’s reporting capabilities, enable these clients to automate and gain full insight into the entire VAT process. VAT summary statements, an audit trail, accurate VAT reconciliation, and VAT declaration are all generated at the press of a button, helping customers to become fully compliant. The solutions are available as a single, on-premise installation or via private cloud with a secured VPN tunnel between the customer and datacentre, with proactive monitoring for early correction and simple software updates.
The solutions go beyond those of 4apps’ competitors who take responsibility only for the data customers deliver to them. In contrast, 4apps is extracting clients’ data from Oracle EBS and making cross-reconciliations with data from their financial statements, just as tax offices do when they audit.
The efficacy and compliance of the itax4apps and Yelloobee solutions are further assured by 4apps’ partnership with EY, enabling them to share global VAT know-how and certify the solutions. This is a huge value add for 4apps clients that doesn’t impact on the cost.
4apps client Rob Frankfort, International Tax & Treasury Manager at Plantronics, says of the solution,
“Because itax4apps immediately notifies the user of incorrect entries, even during the current booking period, we are better able to anticipate the VAT end-of-period cycle and our workload at the end of each period is decreased.”
Yellowfin & operational reporting
4apps found that the single biggest issue for their clients was the lack of an effective operational reporting solution. Many organisations had resorted to running reports off simple database exports which are too editable, time-consuming, and prone to human error.
When they created Yelloobee, 4apps originally tried to create their solution using several BI products, such as OBIEE and Qlikview, but the reporting process wasn’t working. The data model behind Oracle EBS was too complex and had limited resources to translate specific business requirements for operational reporting. For example, it requires the user to model the data hierarchically. Further investigation showed that the BI products from Qlikview and other Oracle BI solutions were also not suitable. When I asked Laurens Voogt why they decided to use Yellowfin as the reporting tool, he told me:
“We began to experiment with Yellowfin back in 2012 and discovered that the easy integration and customisation enabled us to create the reporting system that our clients need. We have also found that Yellowfin, as a supplier, is very accessible for training and support. Moreover, they have supported us to get the tool working exactly as we want it to. This matches our work ethos. We certainly haven’t had this experience with other BI suppliers, so it was a relief to find Yellowfin.”
Benefits of Yelloobee
The Yelloobee solution, incorporating Yellowfin, is quick and easy to install on multiple devices. It can quickly produce hundreds of ready-to-use reports on multiple business processes with Yellowfin’s user-friendly drill down and zoom-in functionality. It simplifies the complex Oracle EBS data model providing granular information on outstanding items, ledger cards, reconciliation with the GL, VAT declarations, filing, project status overviews, ageing analysis, and the number of FTEs within the organisation.
Yelloobee adapts to each individual businesses’ processes; no experience with Oracle E-Business Suite is required and there’s no need for modelling or programming. Yellowfin reporting enables clients to compare data sets for specific text position, financial statement dates, by client invoice, and by keyword and simplifies the comparison of multiple data sets. It gives greater visibility into the whole VAT and operational reporting process with clear presentation and easy cross-team collaboration.
Yellowfin has helped 4apps clients break through adoption barriers and create and deliver what Laurens calls “pixel perfect” Tax Declarations and SAF-T (XML) files three times faster and four times cheaper than other reporting solutions.
The future of VAT reporting
4apps predicts that VAT reporting will continue to change at pace over the next five years with the potential for tax data to be communicated to the authorities daily, in real time, with VAT deducted directly from business accounts. Going forward, 4apps is keen to offer their clients support on period-end closure and cashflow reporting and forecasting. The beauty of the existing itax4apps and Yelloobee solutions is they already have these capabilities and can adapt and grow with anticipated changes. When 4apps first created their solutions, they were working with Yellowfin version 6.0 and Laurens and Frank say they are looking forward to enjoying the benefits of the enhanced functionality of Yellowfin 8.0 when it launches in October 2018.