Concur: making expenses simple

24 March 2016

Peter Asigbetse

Peter Asigbetse

Principal Consultant

I hate weekends! A bit of a bold statement and maybe rather sad. Why would anyone begrudge having two days off work? Perhaps I better put some context around that statement: I hate doing my expenses at the weekend. So how can technology ease my expense misery?

Processing paperwork at the weekend is a real pain point for me.  I, like many of you fellow road and air warriors, have just recovered from the aftermath of opening my wallet after a week’s travelling and having it explode  wretched receipts all over the place. So until the utopian world arrives that Brenton O'Callaghan describes in his blog - Improve my POS experience - Stop giving me receipts!-  I am stuck doing paper work at the weekend.

The pain points of entering my expenses:

  • It’s a time consuming and odious task - it would be great to do my expenses whilst on the move and travelling (but not behind the wheel of course)!
  • Handling receipts is inefficient as there are too many of them and they can get lost.
  • To link each receipt with its related expense is often a combination of a manual process: posting them to an administrator who then has to sort them, and an electronic process: scanning and emailing them.
  • It’s hard to know exactly what is needed for each expense, is there a limit, do I need to split out any guests between internal and external, etc?
  • It’s not always easy to track where in the process the claim is.

What can we do about it?

So the question is, “what can we do about it?”.  Is there a way of making this process more streamlined and user friendly? Previously you’d need to look to a third party, or your own bespoke solution in order to capture receipts digitally and link them to expenses, but now this has been made much easier and much more intuitive with both SAP FIORI and SAP Concur Expense offerings.

SAP FIORI is an extension of your backend ECC Travel Management implementation and works extremely well if you have Travel and Expense implemented in SAP. 

Concur  is following SAP’s current strategy of embracing the cloud and all the advantages it offers. Put simply, this is your travel and expense management solution delivered via the Cloud. As a user do I need to know any more than that? No, not really, I just want to know if it works and more importantly if it will make my life easier.

How does Concur Expense tackle my pain points?

  • Making the expense procedure more intuitive and efficient means I gain valuable time back in my busy day: during the week this increases my productivity and during the weekend enhances my work-life balance.
  • I can harness the power of my mobile for more than just Angry Birds and save my wallet from busting at the seams with needless paper receipts as Concur comes with free mobile applications. These enables me to enter expenses anywhere and on any device. With the power of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) I can automatically create an expense item by scanning my receipts and the key information including dates, amounts and type of receipt is automatically pulled through.
  • Concur allows me to capture receipts on my mobile device or PC and attach them immediately to the correct expenses or save them so they can be linked later. No more lost receipts, no more time wasted matching off receipts to expenses.
  • I can review all my trips and expenses anytime and see where they are in the approval process.  Whether they are with an approver, if any comments have been added asking for clarification and most importantly if it has moved into the ‘Paid’ status.
  • One lovely feature is that Concur has a partner ecosystem where partners such as well-known coffee companies, hotel chains, taxi companies and airlines have signed up to delivering electronic receipts directly to your Concur account! Yes, Brenton, your utopian paperless receipt world just got that bit closer.

Of course with any new solution there are counter points that have to be taken into consideration, for example, what is the overhead of having to learn a new system? Does this add more work for the approvers and auditors or make it easier for them? These I recognise each have merit and have to be addressed when evaluating how a solution such as Concur will work for an enterprise.

In summary…

Being someone who regularly has business expenses and also has years of experience within Travel and Expense Management I can resoundingly say that SAP have made an exceptionally positive move with their acquisition of Concur.  Here they seem to have put the user experience at the centre of the design. It’s a robust solution that when introduced at an enterprise level can increase the efficiency and productivity of the workforce.

Why do I care? Because it makes my life easier – I look forward to my weekends being paper free and a much happier place!

 

About the author

Peter Asigbetse

Principal Consultant

An SAP Troubleshooter passionate about Integration, Workflow and Concur.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race