May 10th, 2012 by Tristan Pollock
In 2002, when Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, declared that his baseball team needed to change to become competitive, many of his fellow coaches, scouts and managers disagreed. Selecting players by subjective processes and batting average was tradition, they said. Anything else wouldn’t work.
Beane rebelled. He applied a new statistical approached to the Athletics’ recruiting process called sabermetrics, a specialized analysis of baseball through objective evidence. This included using proven offensive indicators such as slugging percentage to select new recruits. And it worked.
That same year, the Athletics were competitive with the New York Yankees, a team that boasted a collective salary over three times as large. Beane’s success was due to his practical, outside-the-box thinking and early adoption of new, innovative technologies.
Beane might have been in the business of baseball, but it is a business nonetheless. Staying ahead of the game in any industry isn’t easy. It requires you to look beyond the horizon, predicting what will catapult your company forward, or reduce costs on the back-end.
As the green movement has already shown us, sometimes inefficiencies are right beneath your nose. It might be as simple as replacing outdated light bulbs and cutting energy costs, allowing your bottom line to drop that much more.
Poor processes also lead to the same ends. And, in many ways, the tax reporting department is left open to these same inefficiencies when it takes extra, unneeded effort to manage error remediation, “B” Notices and corrections. But there is hope.
Cloud computing has made it possible to update software as important IRS changes happen, not months later. That same Web-based tax reporting software can now automate previously manual processes and swiftly guide you through the many complications of compliance. And, down the line, eStatements will eventually make one more part of the reporting process obsolete — printing and mailing paper forms.
But, despite all the new tools available to tax offices, comptrollers and compliance managers, many are still hesitant to upgrade. It’s too hard to switch, they say. Change isn’t always easy, but Beane didn’t push a new way of doing things to let it die a year later. He took a long-term approach. After the 2002 season Beane was offered a lucrative contract by the Boston Red Sox. He declined, but staying on top of the latest technology paid off — Beane still leads the Athletics to this day.
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