New Concur UX opens Gateway to easier spend management

A Gateway to New Possibilities

In October we released functionality inside the administrator portal allowing Concur admins to toggle on and off a brand new Concur user interface for themselves and their employees. The new user interface – code-named “Gateway” by the designers and programmers who’ve worked on the project for the past two years – is set to be released globally on January 31, 2015 for all Concur customers. In the meantime, we have made the changes available early so that customers can transition their teams at a pace that makes sense for them. I wanted to take little time to answer some frequently asked questions about Gateway and why it’s so important to our users and the company.


Why Gateway? Why now?

As the technology world rapidly evolves, the line between consumer solutions and business solutions is becoming blurrier every day. Tools like Airbnb are frequently used both for personal and business purposes. Social networks like Twitter are as much business tools as they are play space. And every day employees’ expectations increase with every new change in the business software user experience. The consensus is in: tools for work should be just as delightful and easy-to-use as tools in the consumer world. Why shouldn’t you have as great an experience in a CRM tool as you do in Netflix, or your travel booking solution for that matter? Concur understands that the consumerization of enterprise software is a real phenomenon. The Gateway project was designed to begin an iterative process that will ultimately "consumerize" the Concur user experience.



Key features and enhancements are:


  • Enhanced pages with effortless navigation and a modern look and feel
  • A streamlined travel summary and booking workflow process
  • Consistent terminology and iconography across all functionality including travel, expense and invoice
  • Dashboard designed with logical grouping of like functions and tasks together to minimize the time and required steps to complete tasks
  • A facts and stats section with personalized metrics and other helpful information to help the user understand their spend habits
  • Clearly defined and visible actions, alerts, and notifications
  • Improved smart matching of expenses and receipts by combining key functions on the same page
  • Easy access to help, support, and other key resources

So how did Concur determine these changes?

Concur has built a comprehensive user experience lab that uses a variety of research methods from focus groups to one-on-one interviews to traditional one-way mirror usability tests. We spent a lot of time considering how our customers are using Concur and how they would like to be using Concur. But don’t take our word for it – here is Lisa Mason, Senior Director of User Experience, to tell you about our UX process.


Who has tried the new user experience?

We have reached out to hundreds of individuals to have them evaluate our product, ranging in company size from small to large. Fifty-two companies like ADP, Amazon, Bank of America, Honeywell, Starbucks, and Microsoft have evaluated our new user experience. I’m happy to report that we have made significant improvements, and will continue to improve during the coming months.



How do you test design ideas?

Concur uses prototypes to test different designs. Lisa can tell you more about what that process entails:



How do you measure success?

Our goal in the new user experience is to make things more efficient for you. To this end, Concur is focused on three measures:

(1) Success rate: the percentage of tasks that users complete successfully

(2) Time on task: Length of time it takes to complete a core task

(3)Error types: We collect two types of errors: (i) critical errors that occur when a user deviates from a successful completion path. These errors prevent a user from successfully completing a task, and (ii) non-critical errors occur when a user deviates from the preferred path, but is able to recover successfully.



How important is knowledge of your customers to the UX process?

Everyone is a little different. And everyone travels very differently. Concur studied a variety of personas when deciding what changes to make to the UI. Here’s Lisa’s explanation of how that process works.



What challenges helped shape the redesign process?

You may have heard Concur talking about Gateway for some time. And the complexity of our application is unbelievable. When you think about Gmail, Facebook, or Netflix, most users have just about the same experience with these products. The content may be personalized, but the interface options are not – This makes design changes relatively easy for those companies.

The Concur interface is so customized that we have to think about every permutation of the tool, and there are hundreds to consider. The general design concepts of Gateway were 80% complete in just six weeks, but it took 18 months to adapt the design concepts to every permutation of the product.

In the enterprise space we are very progressive with UX, but the experience can be limited by individual company policies. We can control the look and feel of our design, but the details are often controlled by the individual companies. It might be really easy to attach a receipt, but if you have to attach a receipt for anything over $3 that’s going to require a bunch of effort no matter what.



Can I volunteer to test?

Yes! Concur administrators have the option to turn on and off a Concur survey that appears at the end of each expense report. Each survey invites users to be a future research participant. We’ve received tens of thousands of completed surveys. We file each survey participant into a different persona type, and when it’s time to test a new feature for a specific persona, we draw participants at random from that pool.

Gathering feedback from personas can happen in many different ways. The most common is one-on-one on-site interviews at Concur. But we also hold customer visits where we go to customer offices to observe users in action. We’ve even attended group trainings and watched as people learned to use Concur during their company new-hire process.

The survey process really helps us identify the next small changes to make every few months. We review the survey data, and use natural language clustering tools to identify the topics that come up most frequently. We’re always looking for improvements, and we want to take that feedback from real end-users.


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