Blockchain from contract negotiation to accounting

Interview with project manager Silke Wolf and Boris Lingl, DATEV eG

DATEV eG of Nuremberg wants to digitally optimize the existing commercial processes as well as new processes using Blockchain technology. Both the project leads Boris Lingl and Silke Wolf from the DATEV Lab will throw more light for us as to how the value-add of the user is thereby optimized and why the company is therefore cooperating with T-Systems MMS, Otto Group and Hermes.

  • Ms. Wolf and Mr. Lingl, high security in your processes is a part of the DNA of DATEV to some extent. Now, you are also doing research within the framework of Blockchain in your company, why? To make the existing processes and portfolio more secure?

    Lingl: That’s partially right. Primarily, the Blockchain technology is about creating the transparency and security between organizations and companies, which otherwise do not or not yet trust. Like other institutions, we also want to digitize and simplify processes, without having to compromise on the security …

    Wolf: … and with respect to our core target group i.e. tax consultants, auditors, lawyers and their clients that means: We want to curb the excessive paper use, remove media discontinuities for them and securely design the error-prone processes. But, that is just the additional factor, we also want to furthermore replace the existing processes by more efficient digital ones and provide new functions.

„Like other institutions, we also want to digitize and simplify processes, without having to compromise on the security.“

Silke Wolf & Boris Lingl, , project leads at DATEV eG

  • What does this specifically mean?

    Lingl: Media discontinuities impact many business processes still today. For the digital further processing, the paper documents must be scanned and individual data must be entered manually. Furthermore, the documents must be archived in an audit-proof manner. For many organizations, this is very time-consuming, let alone the error susceptibility of such manual processes. Based on the Blockchain technology, we are doing research in the lab of DATEV, in order to think of new end-to-end digital processes for the value-add of a company, which exactly closes these gaps and simultaneously creates new opportunities.

  • How would that look in practice?

    Lingl: I will give you an example: A Nuremberg-based gingerbread producer regularly sends larger quantities of its goods to Copenhagen. Until now, the process looks like this: The producer has to also organize the transport besides production after the order was received from Copenhagen. The means here and now: There are different orders, which run via different systems. Our new research partners Hermes and Otto Group have conveyed us explicitly, what this actually entails: media discontinuities and information in various sources are the result.

    In future, we will see the process in a different way. If we take Bizzbloxx as process engine, then we can automate all the following steps: As soon as the order from Copenhagen is received and the Nuremberg-based gingerbread producer has accepted it, the logistic expert can be assigned automatically, the data required for the logistic process is directly provided without media discontinuities. In such a way, the processes can be organized in an efficient manner.

  • Lingl: Furthermore, the Blockchain should provide us the opportunity to also enrich these processes: the complete way of goods can be tracked in nearly real-time through geo-tracking, from the start address to the place of delivery. The intermediaries can be easily involved; moreover the goods temperature during the journey can be continuously measured and recorded for quality assurance. Finally, the information can be written in the Blockchain in consolidated manner. Forgery-proof and can be viewed only by certain involved parties. Such is the core competency of the technology. Furthermore, the information can be directly linked to the involved commercial processes. In such a way, ultimately all the companies and also their tax consultants can be benefited, who support the commercial processes, from the improved quality and transparency of information.

  • Wolf: If thought in our customer jargon, we also see the potential in international businesses. The German small and medium sized enterprises are always highly export-oriented, but here there are pitfalls, which must be considered. For example, in case of delivery thresholds or e-invoices. The question, in which country the taxes must be paid in case of international export businesses, depends on the net goods value of the export volume per calendar year. This is expensive in fiscal terms and complicated to manage. If one considers that gingerbread is exported in the countries outside EU, one can easily imagine the potential of the Blockchain.

  • And also, it is just not limited to goods processing?

    Wolf: Absolutely! From the logistic to the production, the downstream processes as well as the invoicing and invoice processing, many fields can be redesigned from the process point of view and improved in qualitative terms with the technology. The redesigned processes based on the Blockchain are the basis. Theoretically, many processes can be simplified right from the first contract negotiation to the accounting and – this is especially important – also can be ported to the forgery-proof, trustworthy digital basis. That was also the significant motivation for us to collaborate in this area with Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T-Systems MMS.

    And namely why?

    Lingl: Data protection and data security – these values connect us. Telekom as well as we know the importance of confidentiality. Both the companies have wide experience and expertise in this area. Regarding the Blockchain and the common Proof-of-Concept, we deal with the commercial processes in this cooperation; the technological fundament comes from our partner. Avery good combination, according to us.

About DATEV eG

DATEV eG is the software company and the IT service provider for the tax consultants, auditors and lawyers as well as most of their small and medium sized enterprises. With around 325,000 customers, almost 7,800 employees and the revenue of 1.034 billion Euros (business year 2018), DATEV is one of the largest IT service providers and software companies in Germany. In the year 2018, the company ranked 3rd position as business software provider in Germany (source: IDC 2019). The service portfolio mainly includes the areas such as accounting, personnel management, business consulting, tax computation, office organization, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), IT-services as well as further trainings and consulting. With their solutions, the Nuremberg-based cooperative society established in 1966 is improving the business processes of 2.5 million companies, municipalities, associations and institutions together with their members.


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