Bluefin recently became one of the few companies in the UK certified to implement Concur. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to share a few thoughts on why this tool has particular relevance to the Oil and Gas industry.
What is Concur?
Acquired by SAP last December, Concur provides travel and expense management services, chiefly through its Cloud-based SaaS system and mobile applications. The main Concur offerings can be summarised as:
- Travel booking
- Expense management and compliance
- Invoice management
- Spend Audit and Analytics.
So why are these important in the context of Oil and Gas?
Due to their nature, being global and having operations dispersed geographically, Oil and Gas companies require their employees and contractors to travel extensively compared to organisations in other industries. Whilst organisations have concentrated on driving efficiencies through centralised procurement of travel, many still manage the process of booking travel and processing expenses internally. Often, the processes are not streamlined, relying on a lot of human intervention, in some cases still being paper based processes. At a time of low barrel prices, the savings that can be made by increasing automation and outsourcing of these processes are very attractive.
In concrete terms, Concur achieves efficiencies through several ways:
The mobile application enables employees to submit receipts electronically (by photographing them) and can automatically reconcile against their card statements. Electronic receipts from partners such as Uber and AirBnB are automatically added to the employee’s expenses. This takes a monthly chore perhaps taking a few hours and turns it into a few simple swipes performed at the point of incurring expense. Concur have estimated that their mobile app can save the average user 4.5 hours per month in productivity time.
Concur’s SaaS T&E application streamlines the process of capturing expenses, ensuring compliance, handling approval and reimbursing employees. The process of handling and storing physical receipts is completely removed and the entire process is managed efficiently in a single system. On the travel booking side, the Concur system can help remove the middle man from travel booking, enabling employees to book travel through their mobile application.
With the near ubiquity of JV partnerships in Oil and Gas operations, the accurate and timely recharge of costs to partners is essential to manage costs and maintain a healthy cash flow. Travel spend forms a significant part of that spend and so it is more important than ever to get it right, quickly.
Concur helps in several ways:
Compliance – an organisation’s compliance rules can be built into Concur to check and enforce automatically at the point of submission. Not only does this reduce the elapsed time before the recharge can be processed, but it can reduce the likelihood that the expense will be challenged, and it reduces the opportunity that fraudulent claims slip through the net.
Efficiency - by switching employee’s mentality from one of performing expense submissions as a month end chore to an as-you-spend task, relevant T&E recharges can be made far sooner, with the resulting benefit on cash flow.
Organisations in the sector need to have a keen eye on costs during the current downturn in barrel price. With T&E spend being a material part of overall costs this should be a key area of focus, and an area where costs can be saved through better understanding of spending patterns and compliance.
Organisations’ current processes often mean that the level of expense detail required is either not captured, or is not captured in a way that can be properly analysed. By digitising and automating the entire T&E process, Concur ensures that the data is there in its most detailed form for analysis.
Moreover, Concur provides standard analytical reports to enable purchasing and finance professionals to analyse spend patterns, and the option to develop new tailored reports suited to the organisation.
There are clear benefits to the Oil and Gas organisation to implementing Concur. When I speak to my contacts in Concur I’m always impressed that they express ROI periods in single digit months, and I can understand why the business case stacks up so well.
I’d be interested in any comments from Oil and Gas companies who have already implemented Concur or are thinking of doing so. What have your experiences been? What other benefits have you identified from implementing Concur?