Elizabeth Arden Builds an Integrated System with Concur
As a part of our Innovation Award winner series, we’ve featured Oribe Hair Care and Getty Images. This week, we are proud to recognize another Innovation Award winner, Elizabeth Arden. Partnering with Concur has helped Elizabeth Arden to be more cost effective and provide better customer service. Director of Finance, John Viola, took the time to speak with us.
Concur: What is your mission at Elizabeth Arden?
John: At Elizabeth Arden, we want our customers to feel amazing, to feel good about themselves and feel that they have a quality product.
C: How has your partnership with Concur improved your business?
J: So, one of the first tasks or projects I had when I came to Elizabeth Arden was that we wanted to develop a shared service center. We needed to be more cost effective, provide better customer service and in order to do that, we needed the proper tools to put something like that together. We needed a company to partner with that has that type of menu of products. Concur was a company that I had worked with it in the past. It is a company that has a strong global reputation and I had had success with them innovating products in the past.
C: How did your Concur implementation go?
J: You know, it was not a tough process. I would not call it “tough.” When you have a company that partners with you, that understands what you want to do, what you’re trying to achieve and are with you every step of the way, I feel that it’s not a tough process. If anything, I felt it was an opportunity to implement a global system that enabled us to put together the processes that we needed.
C: What were some of Elizabeth Arden’s objectives for Concur for Invoice?
J: We wanted to reduce the number of invoices that we processed as a company and one of the tools we use is a purchasing card. It is definitely a best practice for that. We did not want to add another financial system for the purchasing card, which the bank had. My CFO at the time said to me, “Can we utilize Concur?” and I said, “Absolutely, I’ve done it in the past and it definitely works very well.” So we were able to utilize a system we already had, so all our employees would not have to learn a new system. Everything was integrated and we were able to leverage the Concur system that we had for the purchasing card program successfully.
C: What Concur products do you use at Elizabeth Arden?
J: The tools that we use from Concur, we’ve implemented Concur Travel and Expense, Invoice, and their purchasing card program. Overall, [the adoption rate is] very successful. We continue to have requests, you know, when new employees come on, they look forward to getting onto the system.
C: How were your invoice and expense processes before you started using Concur?
J: My experience with invoice and expense reporting processing, if I go back to the late 90’s we were in a more manual, paper driven, type of reporting with delays in approvals, delays in processing of payments, not being able to track where we are at any given time. Where we are today with the electronic system Concur has that we are able to track from end to end. If there are any type of situations we can instantaneously say what happened, we can identify the root cause of a problem and fix it quickly. It’s paperless, the OCR, the scanning that we’ve implemented here makes it a paperless environment, and makes it very efficient. We also have the ability to do global reporting. And this is all on a global basis and we’ve definitely recognized economy of scale with that. Whether I see it going even further in the future is in the field of notification or anything like that, instantaneous notifications where we are as far as with expense reporting.
C: How has using Concur improved your life, personally?
J: In the past, before the electronic system it was very common for me to spend a Saturday going through receipts trying to put everything together. Actually, spending probably half a day on a Saturday, if not more, putting together an expense report and then trying to get approvals or sending it through the mail. Whereas today everything is instantaneous, the receipts -I can take a picture of my receipts on travel. The approvals are also instantaneous, I can do it from my smart phone and payment is basically immediate.
C: How has using Concur changed your life, professionally?
J: What I see with Concur is I have systems that all interact or they’re integrated. It’s end to end, so where we have a traveler, we basically can support them from the minute they book their itinerary all the way to the end for payment.It all can be tracked, it all can be done electronically and efficiently. Effortless in my role means less processing as far as paper, less sense of tracking down issues. Where now we can identify issues, we’re able to see it as in the past we wouldn’t even know where it was happening.
C: Why is transparency important to Elizabeth Arden?
J: Transparency is very important for us, to have transparency of spend, to understand as a company where we’re spending our money so that we can leverage that with suppliers as well as our policy and procedures for travel.