Tips for a Successful SAAS Implementation in Higher Education: Part One

Higher Education institutions have unique needs when it comes to managing travel and expenses for Universities and Colleges. You need total functionality and visibility in order to support your traveling faculty, staff and student body, and a connected spend management solution that integrates both state and federal controls.

You’ve done your due diligence in researching the available solutions that might be right for your school to consolidate data across departments, and simplify the T&E process for everyone to complete and approve expense reports while on the road or campus—but, now comes time to make a choice.

In evaluating your options, part of your decision criteria for selecting a solution will most likely depend on the implementation process. You might be concerned that implementation will be complicated, difficult and put strain on your resource-constrained IT team. We’d like to help alleviate some of this anxiety so that your solution selection will be based on what you actually need versus what you fear may be a complex implementation process.

Regardless of where you are in the evaluation process, we want to share best practice tips to keep in mind that will help you prepare for a successful implementation in a two-part implementation series for higher education.


To learn more about dealing with expense in higher ed, download our White Paper.


4 Tips for Pre-Implementation Planning

Preparing effectively for your implementation cycle will greatly reduce the time for deployment. The following tips will help guide you on key decisions and consideration points to address internally before starting your implementation cycle.


1. Team and resource identification. Identify who will be on the project team and how you will allocate resources, including:

  • Gain executive sponsorship or form a panel representing key executive stakeholders across campus
  • Assign a project management lead to coordinate resources across the institution
  • Establish functionality and testing resources
  • Identify technical leadership and IT resources
  • Start considering your long-term support for the solution and subsequent processes
  • Select and confirm TMC or point person for the travel side
  • Identify any blackout periods where the team will not be available


2. Knowledge transfer. Perform a discovery process and transition of knowledge from procurement cycle resources to project team resources, including:

  • Assess your institution’s readiness
  • Map out scope and timeline commitments
  • Communicate business drivers behind service acquisition, project mission and expectations
  • Identify outliers for specific departments such as athletics program, engineering school, etc.


3. Consolidate requirements. Gather and consolidate T&E process requirements knowledge to prepare for effective transfer to solution implementation team, including:

  • Approval workflows (consider standardizing where possible as this will make implementation less complex, easier to design and configure, and maintain)
  • Data points required for entry into financial systems (general ledger) and necessary segments required to book a T&E journal entry
  • Fund and grant tracking, and cross charging
  • Encumbrance accounting and reporting needs
  • End-user profile data sources
  • Risk Management Strategy and non-personnel tracking
  • Travel and expense pre-approval needs
  • Per diem and travel allowance needs
  • Cash advance structure and needs
  • Confirm credit card vendor and integration needs
  • Single Sign On (SSO) needs


4. Start socializing. Buy-in is critical for adoption and you’ll want to begin socializing across departments and organizations, and executive sponsor or committee, and start thinking about your institution’s needs around training and change management:

  • The most successful Universities are the ones that start socializing early and often, particularly with those sets of staff that tend to be more resistant to change.
  • Give updates throughout the project lifecycle, and once it becomes more concrete—plan to release communications to get your users excited and that trainings are coming.


Here at Concur, we understand that tracking your university or college’s travel and expense expenditures is critical, but not easy. You are faced with disparate systems, creating mountains of disconnected data that prevent true visibility into your institution’s spend. You know you need a better solution, but real challenges that impact implementation in the higher education space, including lack of mandate, change management and uniqueness of your end users, may have you feeling overwhelmed on how to choose the right solution for your school.


Working with a partner like Concur can help you prosper in launching an effective travel and expense management solution tailored to your school’s unique needs. In part two of this series, we’ll share tips and best practices for implementation go-time and post-implementation success.


With Concur, you’ll have the right travel and spend management solution to meet your school’s unique needs, and a best-in-class implementation team that will work closely with you for a smooth deployment. Learn more on how Concur works with higher education institutions like yours


See more: Tips for a successful SAAS implementation in higher education: Part two

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