“It was interesting that during such a slow time, many organizations seized the opportunity to retool their programs or retool their platforms,” shared Kara Bernard, Managing Director of the Lyndon Group. For the vast optimizations that the Lyndon Group was able to provide to customers amidst the global pandemic, the company received the SAP Concur Partner Growth award. Jeanne Dion, Director of the Value Experience Group at SAP Concur, uncovers the award-winning, best practices put in place at Lyndon Group with guidance from Bernard in a practical and optimistic podcast conversation.
Or Read the conversation highlights below. (2-minute read)
Q&A: Switching to an ERP System
Q: “When you have customers who are looking at moving due to a new ERP system, what should they be taking into account as they start to think about how it aligns with the Concur system?” -Dion
A: “Get invited to the party early enough. I can't tell you how many of those projects last year was in a panic because Concur got left out of the design and the planning of that ERP rollout, and it was almost an afterthought. So, the first thing is making sure that if you own the Concur configuration, the platform, if you will, that you've got a seat at that table for that ERP planning and that deployment plan, because if you're changing, most of the time that you're moving to a new ERP, you're also reframing your chart of accounts.” -Bernard
Q: “Is this a time to really take a look at what you're doing manually in the back office and see where automation could take place?” -Dion
A: “Absolutely. And we deal with clients across all sizes, all industries, and some of our smaller clients do not have an automation or integration in place. They're literally still downloading a report and doing some manual manipulation and then loading it to that ERP.” -Bernard
Q: “What are some of the tasks that you might want to build into a timeline?” -Dion
A: “Understand what you need, what is in your chart of accounts, what do you want to change, and what do you ultimately HAVE TO post? They shouldn’t just be submitting, meeting their expenses, and not worrying about what GL account it's going to be hitting. That should be inherently put in your system for them.” -Bernard
Q: “For a customer who doesn't know where to start from an expansion perspective, they've got the ERP in place, but now they need to grow their company. Where would you advise them to start?” -Dion
A: “Make sure that you understand what the country specific statutory requirements are.” -Bernard
Nice to Have vs. Need to Have: Improving Can Be Harder
Setting up a spend management program is a lot of work, but it’s also a completely blank slate when starting from scratch. Change can be hard for people and programs; the need for improvements or expansions are just as much effort when compared to a completely new program. “Expansions are actually a little bit more difficult than just standing up an ERP because that's just making sure that the data aligns, that you've created the right forms and fields, whereas expanding into other countries or into other businesses, you need to start with really understanding those requirements.” shared Bernard.
Proactively Staying Aware of Regulatory Changes
Regulatory changes are mandatory by nature, so by keeping a running list and being ready to shift to the new requirements will make adjustments easier for employees to accept and for your organization to implement. To stay ahead of the game, Bernard recommends:
- Form a Travel and Expense steering committee
- Always keep the employee experience in mind
- Communicate the rationale for change clearly to employees
“It's really fascinating when you tell somebody the context of why something is happening, how much more compliant they become.” shared Dion.
Using Your Data: Finance Nerds Unite!
Supporting decision-making and conversation points with clear spend data is a way to eliminate ambiguity around where dollars are going. “[SAP] Concur reporting tool is under-utilized,” shared Bernard. Leveraging reporting around topics such as key expense types and frequency of use are some of the top reports that will rapidly create clarity about where dollars are being spent, by who, when, and where.
Staying on top of credit card spend is a perfect use case for how to leverage your finance data reports. “I can't tell you how often we do optimization reviews of card programs [and find that] they're really not staying on top of the information that's [SAP] Concur, and we will see things, 90, 120 days late. Sometimes you have credit card charges that are still sitting in that system that are years old and it's just a lot of noise,” shared Bernard.
Defining Configuration: Start with Policy
Policy modifications are a regular best practice, but what does that mean and where do you start? Bernard suggests:
- Make sure your employees understand them (minimize the legalese)
- Keep it brief-under 10 pages
- Write it at a sixth grade reading level
- Explain the “why” to get buy-in
- Be consistent in tone and tenor
- Regularly update to the new types of spend (like Covid-related or new WFH expense types!)
- Look at global statutory requirements
- Review your training practices
- Think about your employee size, industry, generation, overall corporate culture
“Understand company culture and what your employees can do, what they can't do, what they're going to understand, what their behaviors are, because you want to design your end program to meet those needs,” shared Bernard.
Global Pandemic Impact: A Flood of Expense Platform Newbies
Rapid adjustment to a global pandemic not only created an influx of new expense categories for things like home office supplies, or PPE, but it also increased the number and types of employees submitting expenses and invoices. “When we're trying to be proactive versus reactive, these hybrid business models are bringing more people in who have never used the expense platforms, because they've never had to. They're not necessarily travelers, but now because they're working from home,” shared Dion. An increase of spend in new areas, such as cash, or third party payment platforms, such as Venmo, PayPal, or Amazon (We’ve got a new App for that!), create new areas of opportunity for policy updates and employee education.
Mutual Trust Accompanied by Healthy Dose of Auditing of Expenses
“I think employees inherently want to do the right thing and I do wholeheartedly agree with that. It's been proven through years of study and for those in any kind of an internal audit capacity, you know this; during any type of global catastrophe economic distress, there is always an uptick in employee-initiated fraud. There just is,” shared Bernard. Giving employees the benefit of the doubt is a wonderful gesture, but so are healthy auditing procedures. Bernard’s best practices for auditing expenses are:
- Have the right audit rules in place
- Leverage AI to review receipts
- Make sure cash reimbursements have receipts
- Create audit rules based upon vendors
SAP Concur Administrators: "Congratulations for surviving one of the most disruptive events to have ever happened in our industry," -Kara Bernard
Surviving, thriving, and preparing for recovery from a global pandemic is something that organizations are addressing today in some shape or form. Leveraging these best practices from the SAP Concur Partner Growth award winner, the Lyndon Group, is something our seasoned experts are prepared to help your organization tackle. Contact us to start growing today.
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