Opportunities to expand the capability and resourcing of the tax function



As the ATO’s data collection and analysis capabilities evolve, in-house tax functions must also increase their internal capabilities.

Many organisations are now looking seriously at what sounded like science fiction only a few years ago; turning to automation and robotics to assist in expanding the resourcing and capability of the in-house tax function.

Automation, AI and robotics can not only assist in providing additional data analysis capacity, they can help in reducing risk and allowing the tax function to focus on value-adding activities.

At the upcoming Queensland Tax Forum, Michael Flanderka (Data Interactive) and Darren Timms (Aurizon) present ‘Opportunities to expand the capability and resourcing of the tax function’.

We spoke to them about some of the issues, and the opportunities, facing professionals.

Michael said “Experts agree Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the most significant development in business after the mobile internet and is often referred to as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. In our session, Darren and I will help delegates gain the confidence to discuss RPA with their clients – we’ll impart our knowledge and experience to familiarise them with RPA concepts, the spectrum of RPA tools, some examples 'use cases', ideas on how to start and importantly, why most tax/finance professionals already have the skills sets to drive RPA adoption.”

Darren told us “We’ll be helping delegates understand where opportunities exist to use automation in the tax function, as well as covering some lessons learnt from those who have already implemented automation in the corporate environment. We want delegates to leave with the information they need to assist their clients in understanding automation and its potential uses.”


“As I mentioned, we’ll be covering why finance and tax professionals are well placed to embrace automation”, Michael continued, “And in addition to a broad overview of available RPA software tools we’ll be covering how to unearth the opportunities to use automation in the tax function, as well as how to get started”.

Michael Flanderka is Managing Director and CEO of Data Interactive, working with subject matter experts and clients to understand and maximise the value that the latest robotic automation technologies can deliver to their organisation. Michael was formerly a Specialist Tax Adviser and Chartered Accountant with 20 years’ experience across senior roles in the GST and indirect tax consulting industry.

“My career spans over 20 years servicing large corporates in various consulting roles, across audit, tax and business in top tier professional services firms and senior in-house positions. The key tax highlights included roles with Big 4 accounting firms including PwC’s Tax division (National Insurance sector leader), member of tax committee for industry groups such as Financial Services Council and the Insurance industry and Head of Indirect Tax for Suncorp Group.” He said.

“After investigating the emerging Robotic Process Automation (RPA) industry in overseas markets in 2014-15, I established the Data Interactive Group to help tax, finance and operational functions automate the repetitive, important (but boring) work and allow highly skilled workers to perform more valuable tasks. Today Data Interactive provides both RPA advisory and RPA implementation services that focus on two key principles: ‘Best Fit RPA’ - matching specific business pain points to RPA technologies; and ‘Enabling Clients’ - ‘enabling’ clients to become self-sufficient with the use of RPA.” He continued.

Darren Timms is the Group Financial Controller at Aurizon, a Chartered Accountant and has extensive experience in managing finance functions at large corporates. Darren is currently responsible for the financial reporting and technical accounting, management reporting and budgeting, general accounting, finance governance, capital and tax teams at Aurizon. He is also leading the finance team’s business process improvement initiative, including implementation of automation. Darren was previously CFO at Viridian Glass and Group Financial Controller at CSR Limited.

“I commenced with Aurizon just after the company floated in November 2010 as the Financial Controller of the Network Business Unit and have worked in many financial roles as the company transitioned from a Government owned corporation to a Top 50 Australian listed company. Prior to Aurizon, I had over 10 years experience with CSR Limited primarily in the Sugar Division before moving into the Group Financial Controller role. I started my career at Deloitte and I am a Chartered Accountant with degrees in both Commerce and Economics from the University of Queensland.” He said.

Michael and Darren’s presentation is one of eight in the Forum’s dedicated corporate stream.

The 2018 Queensland Tax Forum takes place 23-24 August, at Brisbane’s brand new 5-star hotel, W Brisbane - part of the new, billion-dollar Brisbane Quarter.

Find out more about this session and the rest of the dedicated corporate stream, the venue, and the rest of the program on our website.

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