Business case for investments


"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

A business case for change to justify additional investment budget and/or resources required

It is essential that the tax function has an excellent relationships with the business, senior management, finance and IT as a mutual understanding of the impact of the company's tax challenges and the potential solutions should exist to realize that investment budgets are actually made available.

'Multiple stakeholder buy-in' - 'create strategic and operational value of the investment'

Chief Tax Officer, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, says:

“If I had to tell a group of CFOs why they need to invest in their tax operations, I would say that they need to fully understand the amount of risk on their financial statements from tax, which is one of the biggest numbers on the financial statements.” Many of these risks are different from the past, she says. 

“There is an enormous amount of competition among countries to grab as much tax revenue as they can and this is not something that is going to go away. Companies will have to defend against unreasonable government positions and face the increase in data requests and resulting assertions, which are going to become more and more onerous from countries around the globe.”

A roadmap for transformation


Business case and problem statement

The business case

This is a sentence or two that describes why this project should be done, why it has priority over other projects, and indicates the strategic business objective(s) the project impacts

The problem statement

This is a short measurable statement about the problem. It should indicate how long the problem has been going on, be stated as specifically as possible, describe the gap between the current and desired state, describe the impact of the problem, and be stated in neutral terms with no blame, perceived solution(s) or root cause(s)

Project scope

Scope refers to what the team should focus on but more importantly what the team should try to avoid. Define what to work on and what not to work on

Goals and objectives

The goals and objectives are what the team should strive to achieve in the four to six months they exist. (e.g. aim at improving by 50 percent)

A non-exhaustive ‘Return on Investment‘ overview that could be used as a guideline

A good way to estimate the potential value of a project/solution is to imagine how much you could save if the problem was completely eliminated (e.g. removal of software (license/ support fees), salary or consultancy costs). How long does this process take within your organization and what will be the amount of annual saving (i.e. Return on Investment period) after implementation of the solution at hand?

Categories of savings


Hard savings

Reduce expenses and result in financial improvement

Soft savings

Financial benefits that may occur, but are not a direct result of the product, solution, etc.

Potential saving

Potential Saving: are hard savings but require some action or decision to be become realized (e.g. go ahead after feasibility study)

Example of a ROI format for illustration purposes only



Examples of area of investigation 

Hard Savings (EUR)

Soft Savings (EUR)

Potential Saving (EUR)


Software solution X

Real time access to improved quality tax data for stakeholders (e.g. planning and monitoring)


Less resources needed for processing


No longer time lost on rework/hidden factory


Lower external advisory costs 


Improved working trade capital


Lower financial risks during a tax audit


Avoid disruption of business 


Quicker response time to audits


Improved internal controls


Enhance knowledge sharing


Increase data analytics


Lower training and/or maintenance costs


Avoid reputational risks (vendors, customers, etc) 


Avoid financial risks (vendors, customers, etc)


Be operationally efficient
Hidden factory or hidden operation 

Unnecessary rework The rework and cover ups, the hours and days of wasted time in a company of people who constantly correct mistakes.

The objective is to make the hidden factory visible (measure/calculate ROI) and as result returns precious time and money to the business. It is about extra man-hours, additional costs due to rework (credit/debit notes) and retrospective corrections and/or disclosures. 

Example: how much rework is required before numbers received from finance systems can be used?

During assessment of any solution determine the amount of increase of workforce efficiency, how much rework is avoided, risk exposures are decreased but as well how visibility and awareness are improved by which the tax function is able to set better priorities. 

For example eliminate duplicate work and provide better information to tax and checks and balances that require only a double-check of a small handful of invoices.

See chapters Spreadsheets and VAT Compliance and  ERP systems and tax engines


How to make that change

Written by Richard Cornelisse
 Richard LinkedIn

Richard advises multinational businesses in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their Indirect Tax Function and Tax Control Framework.

He started his career as a manager at Arthur Andersen and then became an EY partner where he led the indirect tax performance team for Netherlands and Belgium. Currently, he is a managing director of SAP Tax Consultancy Firm.

Richard has over 20 years of experience advising clients on international VAT issues. He is specialized in the tax aspects of financial transformations, shared service center migration, and post-merger integration work.