Useable but could use some improvements
December 12, 2018
Useable but could use some improvements
Score 6 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Avalara
We use Avalara to calculate our sales tax on invoices for our entire company for each branch. We use Avalara so that we do not have to maintain tax tables in our current system. That is done at Avalara for us. We only need to figure out how we should be taxing items and they calculate based on the address. We do not use their functionality within their cloud software that allows them to determine taxability.
- They were able to work with us when we needed to use their cloud system in a different way. Meaning we maintain the tax category taxability in our system and when we send our invoice information they only need look at our address and not the item number. We do not maintain our inventory item listing in their online cloud software. That was a benefit as we can't function using that capacity with our business model.
- We struggle with them on how quickly they get back to us when we have problems. Granted, we didn't buy the best support contract with them which is partly the reason, but, that being said, I would expect faster communication with them when we are having sales tax problems as well as quicker follow-up. I say that because it's never just one customer that is affected but several so the problem needs to be fixed immediately. We greatly appreciate when we get update emails saying, "Here's what we are working on, here's who is working on it and this is where we are in the process of figuring out the issue. I'll send an update tomorrow if you don't hear from us with a solution."
- I don't appreciate when their help desk attempts to shift the blame on our IT department when there is an issue. I would appreciate a better approach where we figure out the problem and leave the blame to the side. The point is fixing the problem not assessing blame for who caused it.
- I also don't appreciate when we let them know there is a problem with their sales tax rates and they don't believe us until we send them a screenshot of what the state's site actually says.
- By not utilizing Avalara we would have to add at least another individual to our sales tax staff just to handle tax table maintenance and reviewing each state...maybe two.
Implementation went very well. We ended up having to push off our go-live date by a month but once we were able to work out our problems we had a fairly seamless implementation.
The keys to our success were lots of testing on our end and working with Avalara to smooth out problems we encountered. The best help for us was when Avalara's team would open a window of time where they could see all transactions flowing from us to them. That helped pinpoint where the problems were generating and what was functioning appropriately and what wasn't.
Our integration, from our ERP system point of view, was much more difficult as we are doing all of the taxability selections on our end so we didn't need to send Avalara a lot of SKU data nor do we need to keep our cloud area updated with SKU information and how we want them categorized for tax purposes. Had we utilized Avalara for it's purposes our integration would have been more centered around updating the cloud as opposed to updating our ERP and how we are sending data.
Using Avalara's online system gets this rating because it's very useful to us. We are able to use it to do test calculations, which is handy when we have customers calling us with disagreements on how they were taxed. We can pull up orders and exactly see how it was calculated down to the the local level as applicable. We use their reporting tools to help us file our own returns (we do not use their tax return preparing functionality). It would be helpful for us if they had a better system in place for allowing us to upload transactions that don't sync up. (This can happen if we have connectivity issues.)
We do not utilize these capabilities however we have heard good feedback from other organizations on the exemption certificate management. At this time we are not in a position to add those capabilities due to our customer base restrictions.
Have not used another software.
How Avalara works is that you want them to house and figure out what should be taxable. It takes the burden off your shoulders of constantly updating your system or trying to maintain your tables with all of the tax changes coming up.
Avalara is not consistent in giving us information timely. For instance, right now, we have a help desk ticket with them that's been open since October. They are still trying to figure it out and we haven't gotten any feedback on where they are at or what is going on. That seems to me a very excessive amount of time to be working on a problem. Was it forgotten? Is there something bigger going on? Do they need something from us? An update would be helpful.
Also, many times when we call with an issue or concern (wrong tax rate for instance) we generally feel like the help desk assumes it's of our doing instead of theirs and doesn't truely listen when we explain the problem because we end up repeating it over and over as well as sending examples. We expect more respect on our end.
Problems get solved
Not kept informed
Need to explain problems multiple times
Support doesn't seem to care
No - Can't get upper management to approve the cost as they feel it is excessive and not worth it. I feel that if we've found a problem that's caused by Avalara it shouldn't matter if we have premium support. The product isn't working and should take precedence.
The most exceptional support we've received from them was actually during our implementation. It was a well run implementation and we had only a handful of very small errors that were more on our end than theirs.