SAP Concur for a Changing World
As the world has opened up after the Coronavirus pandemic, business travel is now an option so employees are again making spend decisions on their company’s behalf.
Though video calls with customers and business partners fulfilled a crucial role when people needed to isolate themselves, in-person meetings will always be preferable for generating rapport and understanding.
Travel and expense spend needs careful management to ensure that these operational costs do not spiral out of control (chartering a private jet is not company policy), and employees and finance departments have more important tasks to attend to than chasing innumerable paper invoices and receipts.
T&E technology and processes should make employee’s lives easier and more productive: guiding their spend decisions to preferred partners who meet the organisation’s criteria for reasonable costs, compliance, safety and corporate sustainability.
This week IgniteSAP is looking at the increasing importance of T&E processes and how solutions like SAP Concur can help businesses simplify, automate and optimise these expenses processes in a way that reduces waste of time and money, while improving employee experience.
We will give a quick overview of SAP Concur before sharing some stories of innovative implementations in a range of businesses and organisations, and signpost some other sources of information to help you familiarise yourself with Concur.
Travel, Expense and Invoicing
SAP Concur is a spend management SaaS platform. The components within Concur help a business or organisation create an end to end process which guides employee’s decisions when they need to spend on behalf of the company.
The three key pillars of Concur are Travel, Expense and Invoice and the various modules of Concur support one or all of those. In essence, whenever an employee needs to make a spend decision SAP Concur should be the first and only entry point into that process.
Simplify, Automate and Optimise
By ensuring that all employee spend activity takes place within the context of SAP Concur, a company is able to manage employee spend in such a way that employees no longer have to deal with collecting paper invoices and receipts and writing expense reports, but are still able to participate in the spend management process so the workload is reduced exponentially.
Using smart devices employees can create digital counterparts of paper invoices by taking pictures of them. The SAP Concur app can turn these images into processable documents using optical character recognition (OCR) from which transaction information can be extracted automatically. AI processes can then analyse this information for errors or inconsistencies.
The key advantages of SAP Concur are that by bringing all travel and expense spend processes into one coherent platform, employees are not required to input this information into the system, and finance departments can interpret this data in real time and make strategic spend decisions.
Other benefits include: centralising travel information for employees, allowing companies to fulfil their duty of care to their employees by easily locating them when they need to, ensuring they are always guided to accommodation in the safest areas, reinforcing compliant spend behaviours, and providing travel managers and finance teams with valuable information which can be used in negotiations with suppliers.
Here are some ways in which a selection of companies have implemented Concur in order to reduce spend and achieve other business goals.
Arla Foods is an international agricultural cooperative and the largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia. When they wanted to modernise and automate their outdated paper-based travel and expense system they created an internal team who worked with SAP Concur to manage the implementation.
They chose Concur in order to integrate easily with an existing SAP ERP system. The result was a scalable solution that was rolled out globally. Employees were issued with company credit cards and then they benefitted from a faster processes and approvals of 2.3 days on average. The company as a whole is now able to audit and analyse spend by country, unit, and by individual.
New England Seafood International Ltd
New England Seafood a major supplier of fresh and frozen premium sustainable fish and seafood in the UK. The company has a turnover of roughly £160 million and their purchase ledger team had previously used a selection of tools and processes to deal with about 1,500 invoices per month.
Daniel Cassiano-Silva, CFO said: “We wanted an integrated solution that would mean we could
get rid of our Infopath and SharePoint solutions for purchase orders and purchase requests and replace them with something that was more sophisticated and mobile”.
They combined Concur Invoice with their existing instance of Concur Expense, and using Codeless Platforms connectors, they were able to integrate Concur Invoice with the rest of their ERP system. By working with teams from both SAP Concur and Codeless Platforms New England Seafood is now experiencing a faster invoicing process and far greater transparency.
Dermalogica is a skin care company and a subsidiary of Unilever. Their UK office expense and invoice processes were manual and paper-based, and non-automated communication involving emails and paper to get approvals led to a lot of errors and unhappy staff doing repetitive administrative activities. The booking process for the in-house travel team was difficult and time-consuming.
Because they had already implemented Concur Expense they added Concur Invoice for use with an external travel management company. Business Travel Direct was an SAP Concur Certified Preferred Supplier and together the two companies created a solution in seven weeks.
Dermalogica’s Accounting Manager Tom Miner said: “the process is really simplified from the back-end point of view and it means my team and I can focus more on activities that will add value to the company, rather than just processing and spending ages on the admin task side of things… I worked out before it probably cost us £8 to process each invoice. Now, it’s more like £3 or £4. It’s been a big advantage for us.”
Oxfam GB is a leading international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that delivers aid and development worldwide.
Oxfam has been using Concur for six years and has found that having an automated expense solution has reduced the number of people required for processing invoices, and the workload on back-office staff.
By automating the expense claim process Oxfam now has the tools to operate an expense policy which imposes limits and enforces the policy for a variety of expense types, making the NGO more efficient.
With increased control over employee spend and budgets they have improved their reporting and analysis. Oxfam now has more accurate milage reporting with multiple mileage rates and Google Maps integration, so they now have the added ability to account for the carbon footprint for daily activities.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is a network of firms which together makes up the second largest in the world. They have an annual revenue of over $43 billion. As part of their comprehensive global digital transformation they needed to implement a tool that would automate expense management across all regions. They had been using Concur in parts of their network for years and decided to roll it out to cover all areas with one global system.
Germany is the first country to have been migrated to the global instance of SAP Concur and S/4HANA. PwC currently has 12,000 employees in Germany alone, regularly generating over 100,000 expense reports. Automation of this process has substantially improved reporting and employee satisfaction as reporting can take place during business travel, and reimbursement is far quicker. Other countries will follow, with local requirements being accommodated into their global Concur implementation. In the second phase up to fifty countries will be added.
Stefan Frühauf, PwC’s Global Project and Change Leader said: “With the global SAP Concur instance, we have created a uniform standard that also offers us the flexibility we need. This is a very convenient solution for reducing complexity in our global network of countries.”
TLC is a private company operating in the leisure and holiday sector. It owns and manages 40 holiday parks and a collection of three large seaside resorts and leisure hotels which operate 14 country and coastal properties, employing up to 17,000 employees.
Of that number 2,500 submit expenses claims, and this results in an average of 1,400 each month. These claims were processed manually and on paper, with receipts attached and often posted to the head office for processing. This caused lost receipts, lost claims, non-compliance with the company expenses policy and issues around claiming for VAT.
The remedy was to implement both Concur Expense and Concur Audit, which certifies expenses against company policy. An SAP Concur team processes the auditing and compliance checks: freeing internal staff for more value-added work. Concur is now leading to a better TLC employee experience and also driving compliant employee behaviours.
Understanding Concur in Context
If you would like to learn more the openSAP course “Intelligent Spend Management Using SAP Concur” is a simple and free introduction to SAP Concur.
In order to get Associate or Professional certification in SAP Concur to extend your SAP skills you “must be a SAP Concur customer using the Concur Expense Professional edition”. Concur say that certification is not available to 3rd party consultant companies or individuals, but this does not stop you learning more and using that knowledge in your professional life.
A deep understanding of Concur will be useful to consultants who specialise in related modules of SAP such as HR and finance. While specialism in one particular SAP module will lead to a high degree of expertise in that solution area, SAP professionals will also benefit from a basic understanding of a wide variety of SAP modules: making communication with other team members and client employees clearer during the implementation, and informing a high level conceptual overview of business processes, which in turn ensures that implementations are aligned with business goals.
If you would like to make the most out of your SAP skills and find the right position for you in the SAP ecosystem then reach out and contact IgniteSAP.