SAP Travel and Expense Management, Cloud vs On-premise

18 August 2014

Simon Ferres

Simon Ferres

Former Consultant

SAP Cloud for Travel and Expenses is the latest in a long bloodline of Travel Management offerings that date back to R/2. It is now a Cloud-based, On-demand solution that has undergone an overhaul to bring it into the 21st century. Here I’ll be sharing with you some, of what I believe are, the highlights of the Cloud solution.

SAP Travel Management has evolved from being a solution that allows basic expense capture, supported by tight integration with SAP Financials and HR, to one that, over time, has been rewarded with a number of additions to its stable. These additions include:

  • Integration with third-party travel booking tools
  • Document management integration and barcoding
  • Mobile receipt capture and approvals
  • Automated receipt processing
  • Public sector and pharmaceutical specific functionality.

The Cloud solution

SAP has taken the investment made in the On-premise version, migrated it to SAP HANA, and developed a new user interface in the form of a device agnostic mobile-enabled HTML5. Having lost out to the likes of Concur for a number of years when being compared on end-user experience, SAP has positioned itself  by building on; the integration that has always been strong, it’s  investment in developing the functionality of the solution, and now really improving the end-user experience.

iPad app – landing page

iPad app -  trip approval

Features that are unique to the Cloud offering include:

  • OCR of expense receipt and auto-assignment to trip
  • Google maps integration that can determine mileage
  • Ability for employees to email trip receipts directly to the Cloud
  • Integration of MS Outlook meeting – creating a trip placeholder
  • Quarterly schedule of software enhancements

The alignment to what I call ‘business architecture’ is now stronger than before. It’s evident that SAP has really consulted with its end-users and worked hard to include features that will reduce the impact to employees and managers on what is, I’m sure unilaterally agreed to be, an onerous task.

Considerations of SAPs Cloud Vs On-premise Travel and Expenses solution

At this point I could jump down a rabbit hole around the various differences between the two solutions and not emerge for a week.  First of all let’s assume that you are comfortable with the functional differences between the two options – or at least know who to speak to and where to look for this information. I should also add the assumption that your organisation is comfortable with the data security aspects of pushing staff and client expenses out to the Cloud.

It then boils down to understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the On-premise and Cloud options. Please consider that whilst you are potentially already licenced for the On-premise version, you will need infrastructure and it will need to be installed, setup, monitored and maintained.  You may have a mature BAU environment for your SAP estate so this may not be a challenge, but you should consider the incremental cost. Also bear in mind the document management solutions as well as if and how you plan to scan your receipts images.

The Cloud solution includes quarterly updates that in theory should accelerate your organisation’s ability to get hold of the latest fixes and the functional enhancements.

The On-premise version will rely on your organisation’s ability to pause any development work and focus on a period of maintenance and regression testing periodically. Also consider the investment that SAP will make going forward in enhancing the On-premise version. Which brings me to my final point; SAP has committed to maintaining the On-premise version until 2020. Which in software terms might seem like a lifetime, but bear in mind that over time the On-premise version is likely to be put to pasture with the investment going into the Cloud.

Cloud for Travel and Expenses is already seeing significant demand in the marketplace as organisations look to maintain a lower TCO and focus on increased transparency around expense management. And if you haven’t already seen it, it’s also worth checking out the SAP HANA-based Fraud Management solution which would make an ideal buddy for SAP Cloud for Travel and Expenses’.

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

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