Are SMEs ready for GST implementation? Malaysian ISVs and Microsoft have got you covered

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Microsoft and its partners Sage Software Sdn Bhd, Wavelet Solutions Sdn Bhd and Rofarez Solutions Sdn Bhd announced the availability of GST-ready solutions to support Malaysian SMEs on their path to Goods and Services Tax (GST) compliance by 1 April 2015. The solutions include Microsoft Azure and Office 365 as part of a suite of customizable, scalable software that is easily integrated into existing financial and accounting solutions in use by SMEs.

“We are committed to helping SMEs prepare and navigate the impending GST implementation.  We are proud to have Sage Software, Wavelet Solutions and Rofarez Solutions as strong Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners to help SMEs navigate GST using best-in-class technology. Our business applications including Microsoft Azure and Office 365 are a mature suite of cloud solutions implemented worldwide, proven in many countries with GST practices,” said Azizah Ali, General Manager, Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P), Microsoft Malaysia.

”What businesses today are looking for is flexibility and familiarity.  Any new solution must be able to adapt to their existing software,” said Sage Software Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Michael Cho. “In addition to the fundamental GST features which should be standard in all accounting software, Sage lends our considerable knowledge and experience to making it simple for SMEs to understand and use our software. Sage 50 is built on Microsoft technology and can be implemented on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. This adds a powerful dimension to the productivity tools required for SMEs to run their business, be it on their PCs at work, or on-the-go through mobile devices. Together, we bring familiar feature-rich solutions such as Excel, Work and PowerPoint, through the cloud.”

There are two main areas of implementation for GST compliance i.e. business processes changes and business application changes. The medium enterprises are within the implementation stages of readiness. They are slightly behind their larger peers but have formed their implementation teams and are likely in the midst of overall strategy refinement. Business applications implementation is at the early design phase or waiting to be started. The smaller enterprises that are within the threshold of compliance are lagging behind at the moment. Some are still at the stage of exploration particularly those with the least operation complexity with simpler processes and smaller transactions.

Azizah added that, from a readiness standpoint, Malaysian businesses are preparing themselves for the 1 April 2015 deadline, as many have been participating in various campaigns and workshops Microsoft has been organizing with its partners including SME Corp and the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD), and the industry.

Dato’ Hafsah Hashim, CEO of SME Corp. Malaysia, elaborated that “For the 160,000 SMEs expected to register for GST by April next year, we recognize that the implementation of a new system may pose challenges for them to achieve GST-readiness and compliance. We have been working together with the RMCD in undertaking training and awareness seminars throughout the country. SME Corp. Malaysia has also been providing assistance to SMEs via automatic issuance of e-Vouchers worth RM1,000 based on list of GST registered companies which we received from RMCD. SMEs can use the e-Vouchers to either purchase new accounting software or upgrade to GST-compliant system from vendors appointed by RMCD. Additionally, we also welcome Microsoft’s initiatives in supporting SMEs on their path towards GST system implementation, especially in providing technology and training support through their ISV partners.”

GST compliance is not solely a software technology implementation. Besides the necessary registration with the RMCD, the two main steps are:

  1. The identification of business processes changes necessary according to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department guidance; and
  2. Implementing those business processes changes to the business applications. Some enterprises may need to upgrade or change their business application to ensure a successful implementation.

The challenges for organizations to be GST-ready varies across different industries and businesses, but the main challenges are ensuring flawless implementation with the right factual information and compliance with RMCD guidelines. From a business applications standpoint, the availability of resources is the most pressing challenge. In relation to human resources, the challenge is having GST-skilled internal resources and availability of professional consultants supporting the implementation. The looming 1 April 2015 deadline adds a time pressure for businesses to be GST-ready while concurrently managing their business. Microsoft solutions support GST implementation across multiple industries, with partners providing industry-specific templates ready for a quicker turnaround implementation.

Reza Ismail, Director, Rofarez Solutions Sdn Bhd, advises businesses to focus on solutions that are capable of directly producing reports in the formats required by the RMCD. “GST implementation requires businesses to change the way of recording their crucial business information. Sales and purchases data needs to be accurate, detailed, precise and consistent in order to comply with our local GST requirements. This is one of the key features of our DappleWorks Customisable Solutions, just set it up and we will take care of the rest. This version of our product is geared towards mid to large tier clients who require more than just an accounting solution. We deploy this product on a private cloud infrastructure exclusive to their business, brand it to their organization and customize our processes to meet their needs. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform powers our solutions; ensuring maximum flexibility, performance and security. We are so pleased with Microsoft Azure that we are also looking into integrating Office 365 connectivity in our offerings soon.”

“For the cost of a meal of roti canai and teh tarik, these solutions are at a very affordable price point for SMEs considering the outstanding value they are getting,” explained Azizah. “The solutions we are offering today are comprehensive system and productivity tools to assist Malaysian businesses with GST implementation, with solutions in the cloud and on-premise, and across all types of devices. Microsoft partners here in Malaysia are all ready and capable to support Malaysian enterprises with GST compliance, offering localized solutions that comply with the RMCD GST guidelines as well as other related and specific statutory requirements.”

She said that there’s never enough time for SMEs, so they need to spend their time running their business and letting their cloud solution like Microsoft Azure or Office 365 take care of the technical details.  SMEs need to get more out of what they already have, and leverage on cloud technology to remain competitive and spur growth. They should not have to worry about the equipment or software becoming outdated or out of date, either. Cloud services and solutions are continually refreshed and updated. Thus they will have the ability to consume whichever services they want, and turn it back off, which results in cost-savings; a big advantage for a small business.

Vincent Lee, Founder and CEO of Wavelet Solutions Sdn Bhd is impressed with Microsoft technology and its support for SMEs compared to its competitors. “Microsoft takes a different approach in its cloud strategy, product and marketing. What sets Microsoft apart from other solution providers is Microsoft’s strong local presence and channel strategy that is structured to help partners like us build a successful business, by helping our customers be successful. As a result, it is a triple win-win-win (partner-customer-Microsoft) situation.” The company’s Wavelet Management Suite is a cloud-based GST financial application certified by RMCD, which helps trading, distribution and retail businesses automate their business processes on the cloud, and provide them a complete grade-A GST features and functions that are required to submit their taxes. The system is deployed on Microsoft Azure and is integrated with Office 365.

“SMEs should not allow themselves be left out when they can leverage technology to help them better prepare for GST implementation. Interested SMEs can get in touch with our Microsoft distributors and resellers for more information. This is a first step in our continuing efforts and commitment to support businesses of all sizes to be GST-ready. We are organizing workshops with partners such as SME Corp to assist enterprises that require more insights and best practices on GST compliance. Microsoft is committed to supporting Malaysian SMEs transformation through the cloud so they can concentrate on what matters most; building and driving the business,” concluded Azizah.

For more information about the “Get Ready for GST” campaign for SMEs, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-my/business/mygst/