Pearson saves £50,000 per year by automating its manual expense system

Pearson is an international media and education group which includes sister companies the Financial Times and Penguin, and brands such as Longman and Prentice Hall. Bluefin Solutions and Pearson worked collaboratively on a six-month project to automate Pearson’s manual expense claims system. The project was delivered on time and to budget, with an immediate saving of two headcounts, amounting to a cost saving of £50,000 per year.

Bluefin and Pearson worked collaboratively on a six-month project to automate Pearson’s manual expense claims system. The project was delivered on time and to budget, with an immediate saving of two headcounts, amounting to a cost saving of £50,000 per year.

The business challenge

Pearson had a labour intensive process for expenses using multiple spreadsheets across different business units. With 2,000 employees making more than 20,000 claims a year, there was little control over expenses and a poor audit trail,making it difficult to generate comprehensive and accurate reports. Furthermore, the already slow process of expense reimbursement as further hindered by employees failing to complete claim forms correctly.

The solution

Pearson chose SAP’s Travel Management System using Self-Service, to enable employees to claim and track expenses online. The system utilises a credit card interface from AMEX, stores encrypted credit card data, validates claims againstpolicy, and generates unique bar code identifiers for each submitted claim. Additionally, scanned receipts can be attached to the claim, and the solutionprovides complete integration with Pearson’s SAP Finance system.

Pearson wanted to roll out the solution one business unit at a time and needed to become self-sufficient enough to do so.

"Bluefin trained, advised and enabled knowledge transfer to help Pearson attain self-sufficiency, so they could drive the solution forward and deal with the system after the first business unit go-live." Project Solution Architect, Bluefin Solutions

Bluefin trained the Pearson team, bringing them up to speed with SAP functionality, showing them how to build and to use the solution and enabling them to be fully active members of the project team.

Expanding on this idea of a collaborative approach:

"My team is responsible for support as well as projects. Any system implemented has to be supported by the team; if they don’t understand how a solution has been put together, it becomes incredibly difficult for them to maintain it."
"Our approach has always been that the Pearson team works hand-in-hand with the solution provider –we rely on them for advice and try to undertake work where possible ourselves. Bluefin completely understands and supports us in this approach." Dawn Cattermole, SAP Functional Manager, Pearson

Business benefits

  • A reduction of headcount, providing an immediate cost saving of £50,000 p/a
  • Single automated process forall employees
  • A significant decrease in calls to Accounts Payable requesting progress updates on staff expense forms
  • Fully auditable process
  • Increase in recharging of Company Credit Card expenses to the correct cost centres/project codes
  • Tighter control on claims
  • Greater visibility and analytical capability
  • Significant reduction of the number of manually keyed expense claims by Accounts Payable.
"The first phase of the project which was rolled out to the shared services business group went smoothly. Pearson now has rich management information for this company which was previously very difficult to obtain." Alison Nuttall, Accounting Services Director, Pearson

Why Bluefin?

Dawn believes the key to project success was Bluefin’s ability to recognise and respond to Pearson’s requirements.

"Bluefin responded rapidly to Pearson’s questions and knew exactly what was required. They shaped the project in the collaborative way we were looking for. I wouldn’t hesitate to call upon their expertise for future projects." Dawn Cattermole, SAP Functional Manager, Pearson

The technical solution

  • SAP ECC6.0 + EHP3
  • ALE of data from HR system ECC5.0
  • Employee Self Service (ESS)
  • Manager Self Service (MSS)

 

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