Vendors bid on the

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

project"> The FDOR decided to build SUNTAX using off-the-shelf software, something it had not done in the past. In 1998, the agency issued an invitation to negotiate to PeopleSoft Inc., Oracle Corp. and SAP America Inc. The FDOR gave the vendors 32 pages of scripting to run, to prove that their respective solutions could handle the FDORs specific tax and accounting needs. (PeopleSoft is now owned by Oracle.)

The FDOR ultimately chose to base SUNTAX on SAP AGs R/3 ERP solution, which Evers said was selected for both price and functionality—specifically, for its ability to be customized to handle tax accounting. "In order to provide the kind of customer service we were aiming for, we needed a system to support tax account information, to track receivables and also to ensure that we could provide timely reimbursement to the taxpayer," he said.

By using R/3 to establish a single account across multiple tax types and by having a single view of a taxpayers history in the collection process, the FDOR estimated that it could increase voluntary compliance, reduce taxpayer burden and improve the performance of the agencys 35 service centers. And by integrating various communications systems—including telephone, snail mail, fax and the Internet—into the same deployment, the FDOR could also provide a single point of contact for its taxpayers.

The FDOR decided to build SUNTAX in phases, with SUNTAX Project Manager Louis Panebianco leading the charge. The phases called for deploying R/3, developing business processes that would allow the FDOR to streamline the auditing and tax payment process, gradually moving tax systems off the mainframe and onto the new client/ server architecture, and rolling out CRM and business warehouse software.

In 1999, the SUNTAX team, along with Deloitte Consulting LLP, began the deployment of R/3 on Hewlett-Packard Co.s Itanium-based HP Integrity servers running HP-UX 11i. The FDOR also deployed Oracles Oracle9i database in conjunction with R/3.

At that time, the FDOR moved its second-largest tax system, the corporate income tax system, along with several small taxes in its registration system, from the mainframe system and onto R/3. That tax system went live in the first half of 2001 and was followed by the launch of a new Communications Services Tax in October of that year. The Communications Services Tax was the first FDOR tax type with online filing. Internet-based registration was also offered in 2001.

The deployment didnt occur without some growing pains. FDOR employees had to learn new Internet technologies and adjust to the demands of overseeing what was effectively an e-commerce site that had to run 24 hours a day while working inside FDORs existing technology infrastructure. This meant retraining staff and redesigning FDORs business processes to support customer service through www.myflorida. com. The agency has 2,412 employees in the tax administration program, and about 2,100 of them have access to SUNTAX.

With 140 agents active in the agencys call centers and 700 statewide collectors, the FDOR wanted a way for employees to log on to an application and access all of a taxpayers records, including those still on the mainframe; transfer a phone call; log on to the tax law library; and conduct analysis for auditing purposes.

In 2002, the agency deployed MySAP Customer Relationship Management to improve its call center. It also deployed SAP Business Intelligence for trend analysis of taxpayer data.

While agents previously had to log on to five or six tax systems to determine which taxes a corporation needed to pay, agents now have businesses tax files accessible to them as soon as they begin speaking with a tax agent. SAP portal technology within MySAP delivers to taxpayers the same type of complete view, as well as self-service capabilities, via

The FDOR is able to leverage SAP Business Intelligence to determine which companies are potential high-risk accounts, allowing the agency to prioritize its collection efforts. By providing customer service agents with all the information they may need when speaking with a taxpayer, the FDOR is able to increase the likelihood that a tax will be paid.

All this information has to be stored somewhere, however, and storage was indeed a consideration for the FDOR.

Analysts at AMR Research Inc., in Boston, estimate that a move to MySAP can increase required storage on a server by 30 to 50 percent over SAPs R/3. The FDOR didnt reach numbers as high as these, but now that the agency has access to images for every transaction conducted by a taxpayer, archiving has become a top priority.

The FDOR currently is using EMC Corp.s Clariion CX and Symmetrix DMX-based SAN (storage area network) to house taxpayer data and to support high-transaction applications. Two HP StorageWorks xp512 disk array systems and a VA7400 Virtual Disk Array also were deployed to guarantee uptime.

Next page: Measurable success.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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