Behind the Scenes at Concur: How Cloud-Based Expense Reporting Benefitted Our Business

The average small to medium-sized business averages about 100 expense reports per month. Here at Concur, we average over 3,000 per month.

Luckily, 73% of our expense reports move from submission to approval within 3 days.

We’re in the business of expense reporting software. So of course we reap the benefits of automated, mobile expense reporting: visibility, efficiency and effectiveness. So how do these benefits translate to real gains for our company and employees?


Meet the Travel Fairy/Expense Administrator


Jennifer Alford, Concur’s resident “travel fairy” and expense maven, was kind enough to take us behind the scenes of Concur’s travel and expense management activities. In this article, Jennifer shares how she makes sure the entire Concur team has the tools for quick, correct expense reporting so they can focus on the real work, like helping clients and moving the company forward.

Not only does Jennifer play guinea pig when it comes to new Concur technology, she has also seen firsthand the time and money benefits automated expense reporting software can bring to a company of any size.

So let’s take a behind the scenes look on how Concur technology has benefited our own business.


On freeing up time for the important stuff


Like employees at all companies, Concur employees can’t afford to waste time performing mundane tasks like entering data into a spreadsheet. These are just small pieces of the process – there’s no productivity benefit there.

Per travel fairy, er, Jennifer, “Our finance team would be probably be 10x the size if we processed 3,000 expense report forms per month without an automated expense management system. There are so many interconnected bits to expense. Not only does it help employees submit expense report forms, but there are a whole host of other things that need to happen. Certain expenses have to be reported to a general ledger, P&L, VAT recovery and tax filings. And then we need to know where departmental budgets stand and we need to make these reports visible in the back office system. Looking at the big picture of things, the submitting of the expense report form is just one small step in a very long chain."

On increased adoption of tools with mobile technology

"In 2006, there was an expense tool and a travel tool. Nothing was integrated. In those days it was a software package and we were just changing to the cloud format,” says Jennifer.

We introduced Concur Mobile right around then and it was a game changer for our employees. It was always easy to go into the tool but mobile gave them a way to submit expenses instantly. It really empowered them. Mobile was tremendous in terms of increasing adoption. It used to average three-and-a-half weeks for employees to submit a report. After using Concur Mobile for a year, it went down to seven days. It was a drastic change. I think it was because it was effortless. People who don’t use mobile technology are really selling their employees short and are missing a massive opportunity to make things easier on employees. For us, Concur Mobile transformed expenses from easy to easier.”

On saving the company money

"When you help travelers do what they want to do, it helps save the company money. For instance, our travel policy is built right into Concur Expense. It takes the confusion out of the travel policy by simply giving employees the tools they need,” says Jennifer.

Here are a few more Jennifer-provided examples of how Concur Expense can reduce business expenses:

  • Cash expenses over a certain limit require a receipt. The notification is built into the system so that employees know when to snap a photo of their receipt via their smartphone. Most out-of-policy spending is not done out of willful disobedience, but rather a lack of understanding. The travel and expense management system does the educating for you.
  • Certain expense categories, such as a business-class plane ticket, require manager approval. The system automatically routes these requests to the appropriate manager.
  • The system evaluates how employees travel and offers money-saving tips. Even a slight shift in behaviors can save your company tons of money. Take Westin versus Element hotels, for example. Both are Starwood hotels, and both offer the same benefits, yet one is half the cost.
  • For mobile technology, whether company issued, company reimbursed or BYOD, you can look at the data to see actual usage rates. Why pay a service provider for unlimited calling and data when you don’t need it?
  • When booking employee group trips, you can easily manage travel to ensure everyone is on time, is at the same hotel, has up-to-the-minute itineraries, etc.
  • Transparency affects behavior in a good way. You’re less likely to waste money if you know that management can access your expenses in one click. Yet employees are fine with it because they understand, and benefit from, real-time visibility as well.
  • There are a variety of reports you can run to see where you’re being inefficient, making it easy to feast on the low-hanging fruit of cost savings.
  • You can analyze other behaviors like booking times. By shifting even a small amount of booking times from 0 – 7 days to 7 – 14 days, you can save a lot.
  • If your company has a favorable deal with a credit card company, like most do, you want to make sure that employees are using their corporate credit card instead of paying with cash. It’s easier to monitor, easier to manage (imports and syncs automatically), plus it’s much more difficult for local outfits like taxi companies to commit fraud if a credit card is used.

There are other advantages, of course, but what draws most companies to Concur initially are the cost savings. And if anyone knows about the cost savings automated expense management provides, it is travel fairy Jennifer.

“Anytime you can streamline the expense process, you are going to save the company money. Period.”

  Essential Guide for Expense Reporting_CTA

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