secret santa


/ 23 december 2019 / 4apps

Secret Santa

With Christmas coming up, it is a nice period to spend some (more) time with the family and to enjoy a couple of good meals. At my house, giving each other presents is part of this tradition and we traded drawing straws with our names for the online service called Secret Santa (see 20+ years ago, we wrote your desired presents down on a piece of paper and included pictures from shopping catalogues that landed on the doormat.

This sometimes led to hilarious scenes because many of us were trying to find ways to annoy their siblings. As a result, there were always family members whose names you didn’t want to draw, because their lists were filled with hard-to-find presents or gifts that you would not feel comfortable buying out of shame.

So not everyone enjoyed the shopping part of Secret Santa. There were no online shops and finding appropriate gifts meant a lot of traveling and wandering around awfully crowded places for hours and hours. Compare this to the current day-and age: one and a half weeks ago I checked my Secret Santa list via internet and it already contained links to online shops selling the desired gifts. All in all, it took me a mere 30 minutes to finish my shopping and be fully prepared for Christmas. Personally, I love it. Thank the gods for online shops like, and all others!

If you compare this story to automating business processes, a lot of similarities can be identified. Most business processes in big and medium sized companies are automated through ERP applications and every new year brings more digitization. Except when it comes to VAT Reporting, because then we are still stuck in making manual lists and spend ages to get the results you’re after.

In real life, this means that detailed information from ERP software is extracted to produce some sort of Financial Tax Register (FTR) and then we start to check the content. Next step is to reconcile the totals on these FTR’s with the input and output Tax-balances in General Ledger and hope for the best. Finally, after many hours of hard labor, we create a VAT Declaration. Manually! Lucky then that buying Christmas presents has become so easy and fast over the last couple of years that there is enough time left to maintain this way of VAT Reporting.

No matter how you do your VAT declaration or how you spend your Christmas time, we sincerely wish you happy holidays and all the best for 2020.

Laurens Voogt, 4apps group