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8 Steps GST System Changes Project Model

“Organizations have to transform their business systems for GST compliant.” If that statement makes you want to read on, consider yourself hooked.

Traditionally we think that GST is a tax mechanism that most probably to impact on accounting software. The scope of system changes may now extend beyond accounting software. It can extend to supply chain, fixed asset, payroll, operation, web presence, e-commerce and cloud-based systems. Data is not connected between accounting system and their sub-systems. How shall we ensure that each system in your organization is going to be ready for GST in 2015?

Singapore implemented GST in 1993, only sizable corporates used main-frame systems. Most of the businesses would not have very complex systems to fulfill their GST requirements. Indeed, simple systems were not many in 1993 too. GST can focus on tax mechanism rather than system changes. Australia implemented GST in 2000 and it was the booming time for business systems. It took system changes more seriously and it was stable after two years.

GST comes into Malaysia in Information Age; Organizations foresee the challenges to bring thousands of systems to be GST compliant before deadline. The biggest challenge today is the business systems are too complex in Information Age and integration is not seamless between systems.

Despite of the Guide on Accounting Software, Guide on Tax invoices and Record Keeping are published by Royal Malaysian Customs Department, the practical changes and integration between systems remain a big challenges for business professionals to kick start system changes.

Project Management provides structured approach, proper planning and careful execution on system amendment, modification, development and even replacement to ensure complex business systems are able to meet the GST requirements.

 

This article introduces a project model to help organizations implementing GST System Changes. This project model has 8 steps to bring GST System Changes into the business systems. This project model can evolve to adapt to various project management methodologies based on the system behaviors. 

  1. Discover

It is the obligation for organizations to attend education talks and events to bring GST mechanism awareness to the businesses.

Each organization is unique to determine its GST situation and plan for system changes. This is because different organization is using different systems, despite of they may come from same industry. The system behaviors determine on the efforts to be spent in GST System Changes. Organization A is using simple accounting system as compared to organization B is Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP), the scope of system changes can be totally different. One could involve a few days of customization whereas another has to spend tedious efforts to redefine the workflow, processes, authorization and setup to bring in the changes.

Initial impact assessment is ultimate important to the system changes estimation. Organizations have to prepare that there are implementation costs. 

  • Initiate

Let’s kick start the system changes by initiating it…..no kick no goal…..

Organizations have to form a GST Steering Committee to look after GST matters. GST Steering Committee shall form a sub-committee to drive the GST System Changes implementation and therefore it is the project sponsor. The sub-committee has to make recommendation for GST system compliant. It assigns a committee member as project manager to be accountable for project tasks. Organization shall equip the staff with project management and system changes training to enhance their skillsets.

A business case that consists of ultimate GST system changes objectives, high level plan and critical factors have to be incorporated for approval.

The next thing to do during the initiation stage is to identify the stakeholders related to system changes. Who are stakeholders? They are members of the project team as well as all interested parties that are internal and external to the organization. In other words, whoever involves in the system changes process is also a stakeholder in the project.  

Once identified those stakeholders, project manager shall communicate with them to conduct system changes planning. Let get clear and realistic expectation for stakeholders about the changes to make into the systems. 

  • Planning

Project manager works on planning tasks for the GST system changes. It consists of project planning and procurement planning. The project planning addresses what to plan and what to expect for the outcome. Project manager has to come out a project management plan that give details on how the scope, time, cost, quality, resources and risks identification are properly taking into consideration in GST System Changes. The scale of planning will proportionate to the complexity of the systems.

 

The procurement planning is about what types of contracts with system changes’ vendors. Project manager may analyze in the current market and industry practice to determine the procurement options. Procurement planning addresses the selection criteria about the options to replace, re-build or enhance the current system infrastructure. Project manager shall take this into consideration of cost if there are changes in user licenses and modular licenses. The procurement analysis on whether to upgrade or replace will relate to the effort estimation in project planning. The accuracy in estimation will determine the likeliness of successful GST System Changes. Project manager shall have a yardstick about what procurement options to be taken. 

  • Implementing

Implementing GST System Changes involve system design, build, training and test. System design is critical activity that the organization has to determine as clearly as possible for the vendors. It is a user specification that the software vendors will use it to build GST system components.  Organization has to get itself clear about their GST scopes, business position, what type of business impact on their entire enterprise systems, ranging from front-end e-commerce to back-end accounting process application. Failure to produce a precise user specification will cause quality issue and it has to re-build and re-work. 

 

System training on GST components is essential to prepare your staff to get ready to use it. After the training, project manager will launch acceptance testing. The acceptance test shall consist of generation test, validation test, accuracy test, completeness test, integration test, reporting test and submission test. Each type of test will need to build different GST cases to reflect the accuracy of the system components. Test result shall be properly documented and number of test cases successfully completed with the number of test cases waiting for test re-performance.

 

Re-work on system components, new scopes and workflow shall continue to be tested until the acceptance test satisfactorily passes. 

  • Controlling

Project manager needs to control the project will not work away from the original plan.

 

Work performance, change request process, and risk re-assessment are three areas to monitor in this step. Work performance on the cost, schedule and scopes shall validate from time to time. If there is any deviation from the original plan, it shall alert the project manager.

 

Change requests shall properly authorize due to the different treatment being used, environment changes, and test result reveals weaknesses.

 

Risk shall be re-assessed from time to time to make sure that no known risks are being ignored, organization has proper risk response plan for unknown risks.  Perhaps how to handle known unknown risk is a challenge. For example, if the time line is being postponed, shall the organization fall back to old system and ignore new GST components? 

  • Deploy

The next process is to deploy the systems after changes. The deployment will determine by the system readiness check, all components are ready to roll out. The key and critical sites shall roll out first as pilot site and follow by subsequent sites.  

  • Cut Over

Organizations prepare for the transition issues and adjustment before cut over. Adjustments require ledger posting, refund to be accrued for, stoke take result must reflect in the systems.

 

It is going live on April 1, 2015. System consultants shall standby on the first day of operation if organizations need instant tax invoice generation and proper GST output tax calculation is business critical.  

  • Closure

The systems shall move into business as usual model after goes live.

 

When the first submission timeline is around, organization has to generate GST return file and GST audit file respectively. If everything is done according to the plan, then it is the time to close the project. Project closure will properly justify whether the entire GST System Changes Project meets the original objective and if it does, it is the time to close the project and celebrate.

 

Another closure is procurement closure. Review the contracts and purchase documents to make sure that all outstanding tasks and responsibilities are properly settled. Spending is disbursed and contractual relationship is ended. 

Challenges

Will there be challenges? Of course, it is certain.

 

An organization may use more than one system in its business. It seems that each system is operated by different division and there is lack of data connection in between. In order to produce the GST audit file and fill up the return form, there are high chances that the integration and interfaces between systems may need to consider for the system changes.

 

It is Information Age, booming in application and systems increase difficulty to get all systems into GST compliant. As such, organizations may need to plan response for the uncertainties and unknown risks along the system changes. 

Conclusion

Organizations have to initiate GST System Changes as soon as possible. System consultants will become scarce resources for system changes projects. Functional users have to take up the role of project manager to bring GST System Changes to their business systems.

 

 

 

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