Customer case study
Atlas Sign connects on-premises ERP with cloud-based Avalara AvaTax
“We needed a much higher degree of accuracy and confidence, and a much lower degree of effort and worry. Now it’s pressing a button. It really makes our collection process run much more smoothly.”
– Gary Bennett, CFO, Atlas Sign Industries
- Complex and ever-changing tax rates and rules
- Manual, labor intensive processes lack accuracy
- Too many resources needed to maintain compliance
- Aptean Made2Manage ERP
- Progressive Edge
- AvaTax delivers the most current tax rates and rules across jurisdictions
- Tax calculation automated by connector to ERP system
- Resources reallocated to other financial work
- Increased accuracy
Fortune 500 supplier gains tax confidence using AvaTax connector
From custom design and engineering, all the way through manufacturing, installation, and maintenance, Atlas Sign Industries manages branded sign projects for many national chains in the Fortune 500. As you drive down the road and see signs for national brands in almost any industry — retail, banking, quick-service food, to name a few — there’s a good chance those were Atlas projects.
Based in West Palm Beach, Florida, the 26-year-old company owns facilities all around the country. Atlas files taxes in more than 50 jurisdictions across 47 states. The rates and rules across those jurisdictions are complex — for instance, if a sign is attached to a building, how it is attached, and if it’s a new or existing building affects the tax rate. And the tax landscape is changing all the time.
Dynamic complexity = exposure
“I used to get three notices a week from various jurisdictions around the country, announcing new changes to their sales tax rules and rates,” says CFO Gary Bennett. “Who can keep up with that?”
Gary’s team made manual updates to its internal table of tax rates every year, but they never felt confident in the accuracy of their data across all jurisdictions at any given time. Despite their best efforts, Gary and his team knew they were probably collecting and filing taxes incorrectly.
“That feeling of always being exposed drove us to look for a better solution,” remembers Gary. “We needed a much higher degree of accuracy and confidence, and a much lower degree of effort and worry.”
Connecting on-premises to the cloud
“We looked at several solutions with the aim of finding one that would integrate seamlessly with our on-premises ERP system,” Gary explains. Atlas uses Aptean Made2Manage ERP, a popular ERP system among manufacturers. A connector module was available from Progressive Edge, a Milwaukee-based firm that services Aptean Made2Manage for users like Atlas. In the end, it was Avalara’s ability to integrate with Aptean Made2Manage ERP that ended Atlas’ search.
“Progressive Edge has had a lot of experience in integrating REST (Representational State Transfer) API’s into Made2Manage,” says Kenneth Roy, President at Progressive Edge. “The Team at Avalara helped bridge the technical know-how with the best practices of sales tax compliance. Because of this partnership, we can deliver to the customer an interface which seamlessly integrates into the ERP system.”
“Progressive Edge consistently helps their customers get up and running quickly on AvaTax,” says Greg Chapman, SVP, Business Development of Avalara. “Avalara technology partners excel at understanding their customer’s needs and helping them deploy a solution for streamlined tax compliance, ultimately saving them both time and money, while reducing risk.”
Once Atlas upgraded to the latest version of Aptean Made2Manage ERP, it only took a short time to get fully automated sales tax calculations from AvaTax into the on-premises ERP system. “Progressive Edge really knocked it out of the park,” says Gary. “It was extremely easy to implement, and it works seamlessly.” Atlas has been using the connector with AvaTax and Avalara Returns since summer of 2017.
Accuracy and confidence
Gary cites many benefits of using the fully connected system. Primarily, it has limited Atlas’ exposure to sales tax calculation errors, since the rates in cloud-based AvaTax are the most current across every jurisdiction.
“There’s a lot of value there,” says Gary. “We had the equivalent of a full-time person just trying, with varying degrees of success, to make sure the right rates were applied. Automating sales tax calculations and connecting them back into Aptean Made2Manage ERP enabled us to reallocate that energy and effort into more important accounting projects.”
Automation also reduced friction in the sales process and relieved some frustrations among Atlas program managers and their customers. Prior to the new system, a program manager issuing a customer quote would call into the accounting department for the sales tax rates, then manually enter the rate on the quote. Once the sales order was issued, the program manager would go through the same process to create the invoice. If the rate on the invoice didn’t match the rate on the quote — which happened often since manual processes are prone to human error, especially when rules and rates are always changing — an invoice would likely be rejected, and the project manager would have to do the work again.
“Now it’s pressing a button,” says Gary. “They get the answer within seconds, and it’s accurate. It really makes our collection process run much more smoothly.”
According to Kenneth, the fact that a large manufacturer like Atlas is doing all of this proactively, and so effectively, sets an impressive example. “The issue of sales tax is on everybody’s list of important things, and it’s only going to move up on the list as jurisdictions become more assertive,” he says. “Atlas is showing the rest of the industry how easy it can be to stay compliant, even when complex rules and rates are changing constantly.”