With disruptive forces, like technology, competition and regulatory demands, having an impact on all areas of the business at TELUS Corporation, the tax team was eager to do its part in helping the company evolve. For the tax team, which had tended to rely heavily on labour-intensive processes and paper documentation, transformation was inevitable. As he plotted his transformation journey, Pier Fiorino, Vice-President, Taxation, knew it was critical to understand both the organizational and team culture if the changes were to be a success.
Prior to the transformation, members of the tax team did much of their work manually, spending a significant amount of time printing documents and assembling binders. For a team located in five cities across Canada, using binders as a filing system wasn’t the best way to manage the work. The team needed to reduce paperwork and automate many of its processes or risk falling behind.
Also helping to propel the transformation was the company’s philosophy, which is to promote the best use of resources in order to achieve the best outcomes for its teams and its stakeholders. With that philosophy in mind, the tax team needed a solution that would help team members manage increasing risks—along with growing workloads—by identifying inefficiencies in their business processes.
“Start early with a trusted advisor and target easy wins that don’t involve other teams at the outset so as to gain momentum and team member buy-in.”
Recognizing the benefits of changing from within, the tax team decided to take the reins of its own transformation. A key focus has been to reduce the time spent on manual inputting and extraction of data.
For Pier, who led the transformation, it was critical to understand both the organizational and team culture if the efforts were to have a chance of success. He knew that all teams have people who embrace change, are willing to take on risk and have an ability to help their colleagues do so as well. Pier identified team members who were willing to take on risk and encouraged them to be a leader on the project. This helped him generate early successes that created excitement around the transformation among the team.
Support from TELUS has also helped the tax team facilitate the changes needed to increase automation and introduce paperless processes as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to generate efficiencies across the organization. The fact that the transformation wasn’t about cutting jobs but was an effort to create space to address new and rising challenges helped overcome potential hesitance from employees concerned about their roles.
While transformation is an ongoing process, the tax team is using significantly less paper by making the most of reliable tools that can automate workflow. These tools also promote accuracy, reduce risk and increase collaboration in tax and across the business. This helps the tax team be more proactive in supporting the business and managing its growing workloads and responsibilities.
The company also has a program called TELUS Work Styles, which gives team members the flexibility to work when and where they’re most effective. They can only do that if the documents required to perform their tasks are readily available, which wasn’t the case when they were using binders. As a result of the transformation, the tax team is working toward being as close to paperless as possible, which means increased efficiencies and morale as team members can now participate in TELUS Work Styles.
The progress made by the tax department to date gives the team more time to manage risks and seize opportunities. And with the successes achieved so far, the team is working on further changes. Currently, it’s testing optical character recognition technology as it works to reduce the labour-intensive processes even further. It’s all part of the ongoing transformation journey to constantly improve the way the tax team works.
“The tax transformation needs to start, and it should never end because systems and processes are constantly evolving,” says Pier. “It's something a team should embrace and make part of their DNA.”
National Tax Leader, PwC Canada