Growth and Optimization
Streamlining Spend Management to Better Support Education Opportunities for International Students
Globally ambitious people around the world dream of expanding their horizons by studying abroad, but securing a place at the right university or college can be difficult. As the global leader in international education services, IDP Education (IDP) helps international students find the right learning opportunity. IDP is the only organization by students’ sides, from their first course search, until they have found their feet in their new country. IDP is also a proud co-owner of IELTS, the world’s leading English test for study and migration.
With a team of more than 1,400 trusted education experts across the world, combined with a leading global digital platform, IDP ensures that students can connect to life-changing study opportunities. IDP has offices in more than 50 countries and partners with more than 800 leading universities, schools, and colleges across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. IDP’s network of counsellors help students navigate applications and all the hurdles required to study abroad, but importantly, they help students find the course where they will thrive. Educational organizations also count on IDP’s data insights to help ensure that policies and offerings are informed by the needs of a diverse community of students.
Connecting students with institutions from around the globe requires expert people supported by world-class technology. IDP has focused on building trusted human relationships for more than 50 years and in recent years, its investment in digital technology and customer research has enhanced these personal connections, enabling IDP to deliver global success to more students, test-takers and partners.
To that end, IDP boasts a robust digital transformation and growth strategy that applies to customer-facing services as well as back-end operations. So, when manual, inconsistent purchase-to-pay processes and disparate procurement systems were becoming a challenge at a number of IDP offices, it was time for a change.
“The inconsistencies in expense submissions were challenging,” explains IDP’s global procurement lead, Ben Koh. “To compound this, IDP was operating across numerous platforms, making it hard to track travel requests. Ultimately, this was counterproductive, and the team’s ability to drill down on data was limited.”
IDP knew it needed a cloud-based system that would make it easier to share documents and data and provide the flexibility of mobile access for team members working and traveling around the world. That’s where SAP Concur and SAP Ariba solutions came in.
IDP deployed the Concur Expense and Concur Travel solutions to automate expense management, resulting in much more streamlined processes. However, invoicing continued to pose an issue when IDP teams needed to interpret the chart of accounts in a globally aligned way. “What was considered marketing in one country was considered advertising in another,” explains Koh. “This created challenges when negotiating with vendors and critical suppliers.”
To solve the problem, IDP became the launch customer with SAP to deploy and integrate SAP Ariba solutions for its purchasing with the Concur Invoice solution for its payment processing. The project took nine months from start to finish, with the third and final phase being managed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a year of going live, user feedback was incredibly positive. Employees were learning the new system quickly, discovering new ways to innovate and evolve to increase efficiency and productivity.
Now, a purchase order can be created in the SAP Ariba buying solution, and critical data is mapped over to Concur Invoice. IDP utilizes the Invoice Capture service for automated entry of invoices into the SAP Concur system, leveraging AI features and eliminating manual input into data fields. Management teams can also access the files and information they need from anywhere using the SAP Concur mobile app. Business intelligence tools within the Concur Travel, Concur Expense, and Concur Invoice solutions are giving IDP insights into spending trends, movement, processing speed, and efficiency that they never had before. Plus, audit trails in Concur Invoice make it possible to see exactly where an invoice is in the lifecycle – from submission through manager approval, accounting review, and payment. The result is greater accuracy and timelier payments.
“With processes fully automated, efficiencies have increased and the team spends less time on those manual activities,” says Koh, “[which] has been a key takeaway from this deployment for IDP.”
Since the initial implementation, Koh and his team have expanded IDP’s SAP Ariba solution portfolio in order to further streamline procurement processes. He adds, “These will strengthen the way IDP meets our goal of always being innovative, utilizing data insights, and providing the best customer and partner experience.”