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Brazil Nota Fiscal - Key Support Costs that Go Undetected

by Steve Sprague, Vice President of Product Strategy, Invoiceware International

July 10, 2013

The biggest issue in Brazil is not the selection of a solution for compliance, it is the ongoing support costs.  Over the last 5 years, I have seen a lot of issues in global deployments that make their way into Latin America.  Brazil has three requirements when implementing SAP and all are linked together. 

  1. Localization – how you set up and configure the system and tax structures
  2. Reporting – SPED is a set of mandatory reports that you must file with the government
  3. Operational Nota Fiscal – this tends to cause the most issues for companies as they review solutions for government connectivity rather than an end to end business process.

If you are looking to implement SAP in Brazil, ensure you cover the following topics so you don’t create an out of control support process.

  • Breadth of Functionality – your solution needs to be able to handle all of the following.  Many solutions including GRC for Brazil don’t have standard solutions for Service Invoices.
    • Nota Fiscal for Goods
    • Nota Fiscal for Services (City Level Integration)
    • CTe – Transportation Invoices
    • Nota Fiscal Entrada
    • SPED reporting within SAP ERP
  • Architecture – how many integrations and solutions are you really supporting?
    • You want to have an architecture that doesn’t have a lot of hops
    • Many solutions require SAP PI or a middleware – for an end to end process that can affect your shipping this is just another potential failure point
    • A solution should manage the SAP configuration issues in a “Delta File” approach so that you are not constantly worrying about your customizations and customer requirements. I have seen companies that end up with hundreds of hard coded fixes to SAP configuration problems – these lead to nightmares during upgrades regression testing
    • How many integration points are you supporting, how many different solutions are required?
    • Are you only upgrading the core/centralized ERP system every 3 months, 4 months or 6 months -- these COE limitations place your Latin America operations at risk for non-compliance
  • A Single Monitor – can you look in one monitor to see all issues?
    • You should have one single monitor for all issues including details. It is not good enough to have to look in the ERP system, to look in the NFe stand alone box, to look in the middleware, and then to monitor the printing network for an error that can keep a truck from leaving the warehouse.
    • You solution should have one simple monitor that is part of the SAP system, and this is not standard functionality
  • Support – what are you really paying for?
    • If you pay 18-25% maintenance on a software solution and all you get are patches and updates, you are wasting your money. The process changes too often for a traditional software support model.
    • If your solution doesn’t support the SAP configuration issues with Brazil Nota Fiscal, the middleware processes including the printer management, and the government connections, then you have a lot of internal costs that are wasted
    • You should be able to pick up a phone, call a local Brazil number in Portuguese or a global number in English; speak to someone immediately about your problem regardless of where it is in the process; and have your problem solved as part of your support fees.
    • Too often support stops at a “Service Transfer Point” and you are left holding the money bags for internal resources, outsourced consultants, and T&M projects from the providers that only offer a small portion of the solution
  • Change Management – who is really maintaining the end to end process?
    • In 80% of implementations, the internal SAP COE and Support team is stuck holding the bill for end to end support. This means a good portion of your resources are struggling to fight fires rather than improve processes and create more efficiency.
    • If your solution maintenance doesn’t cover your specific SAP configuration issues, your customer specific requests, all the middleware components from integration, conversion, signing, archiving, printing, contingency, and all the government connections and legislative changes, your team is supporting these changes.

As we approach the end of summer, now is the time to understand the true cost of ownership of SAP in Brazil.

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