Tulane University captures open data with Concur

Over the past six weeks, we’ve shared with you the stories of our Innovation Award winners, clients who embody what it means to be “Transparent, Connected and Effortless,” by improving the way they do business with Concur solutions. Last week, we shared with you how Pure Fishing has been able to expand to over ten different countries outside of the U.S. and increase compliance to about 85 to 90 percent overall. The last Innovation Award winner to be featured in our series is Tulane University. Read on to learn how Concur has helped Tulane University improve compliance through configuration of audit rules, increase visibility into spend, reduce reimbursement times for staff worldwide and capture open data.

Concur: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Tulane University?

Lisa: My name is Lisa LeBlanc and I am the Accounts Payable Manager. Tulane University is a university that not only teaches undergraduate students, but we have graduate schools and we also are a strong research institution. We have campuses in many states, as well as overseas. We have researchers that are in-country in Ethiopia, we have some in Taiwan, we have some in South America--so the university is quite spread out.


Concur: How has your partnership with Concur improved your business?

Lisa: The biggest way is the ability to move things around electronically, which has changed workflow, workflow, workflow. That has solved one of our huge, major problems. What it means to me is efficiency, accountability. At the end of the day, when I see the University business getting done and bills are being paid, employees are being reimbursed and no one’s complaining about late payments, then I know that a good day’s work has been done and Concur is a big part of that.



C: What benefits have you realized since implementing Concur?

Lisa: When we were on a manual process, we were entering things two and three times: the same travel and expense report was getting entered by the traveler and by accounts payable. It was double entry and we’ve saved on that because we only enter it one time now. Time savings from the time that a travel and expense report is produced, submitted, to the time it comes out now has shortened immensely. So, how do you put that into dollars and cents? Before Concur we were completely paper processed we had trouble getting documents routed around in a timely fashion and we thought our faculty was going to really push backand my biggest surprise has been how they’ve wrapped their arms around it, how they’ve embraced it and use Concur on a daily basis. And a lot of them have given me great feedback and that has been my biggest surprise, I think, that they’ve embraced it.



Concur: How does Concur help you with compliance?

Lisa: Concur has given us the tools to be able to have flexibility between the schools and have different rules and audit rules set up by school, than one school could have a different audit rule than another. For example, one school can say, “We don’t want pay more than $100.00 a night for a hotel room.” Another school may say, “We don’t want to put that restriction on our faculty.” So, Concur gives you the freedom and the flexibility to be able to handle each individual school the way they need to be dealt with and set up the way they need them to be set up. You can put in different audit rules and it’s by policy or by group and each school can be a group and that’s how we have it set up: each school is a group. And you can set up different audit rules for those groups, by group.



Concur: Lisa, what are your thoughts on “duty of care”?

Lisa: We don’t do enough, you know, it’s still a new process, but duty of care is a new aspect that Concur has really grabbed hold of and is moving forward with and higher education would definitely benefit from duty of care since we do have so many students and researchers and faculty members and staff members traveling overseas and just traveling in general. I mean it’s not just overseas that something could happen and duty of care would allow you to be able to with a few clicks of a mouse tell you how many people from your university you have in an area. If there was an earthquake, a bombing or something, you’d be able to just at the click of a button be able to see who all is there. Right now the University doesn’t have that ability within Concur. Concur has the ability, but Tulane doesn’t have it as of yet, so it’s a more manual process.



Concur: How does Concur help you focus on what matters most?

Lisa: Concur helps me focus on what matters most because I’m able to spend most of my time doing research and development, figuring out what I need to do for the future, what kind of innovations we can go to next, talking to others about how they use Concur, how we can get this university up on travel, etc. It allows me to do more of the thinking and the research then be able to present something to the administration to try to get those ideas going forward. I don’t have to worry about the paper piling up on my desk anymore. Concur gives visibility into what matters most, by giving us an ability to drill down into data that we couldn’t capture before, airline data in particular or, you know, the invoice module allows us to capture a lot of our vendor data. But more importantly on the expense side we’re able to capture all of the taxi detail, the airline details, the hotel details. Before we didn’t capture that data, it was all reimbursement to an employee, but it wasn’t detailed. Now we can go from an employee and get the detail down to what airline they used, what cab company they used, what rental car agency they used, and we never had that data before.


Concur: How has Concur changed the way Tulane University staff travel?

Lisa: I believe that Concur has given our Tulane University employees the benefit of being able to produce their travel and entertainment report on the spot, so they don’t have to wait till they come back and are at the desktop computer in their office. They can start their report, they can finish their report right there in the hotel where they are, or in the airport, or wherever they happen to be. If they’re in Ethiopia doing research, you know, they can do their report there as well. So I think that’s how it’s changed the way our university employees and our faculty travel.



Concur: What are your thoughts on open booking and how does Tulane capture that data?

Lisa: I think that, you know, if you are talking about faculty and some of the unique travel that faculty has to book, sometimes it’s got to be done outside of the travel module. And it’s going to be open booking and you’re not going to be able to stop it in a university module, or section. It’s just part of the cost of doing business and if we want to be able to capture that data, open booking is the way to go. I think that it just makes sense especially in a higher education world.



C: What do the words “Transparent, Connected and Effortless” mean to Tulane University?

Lisa: “Connected” means to me, in relationship to Concur, that every person has access to Concur and to their expense reports and their invoices no matter where they are in the world.

“Effortless”, in relationship to Concur, means to me, means that you can put something in and its Concur’s programming that guides you along. In with the ExpenseIt Pro, which is what we have, you don’t even need to create your report, it does it for you. To me, that’s effortless.

“Transparent”—we have a lot of transparency now. One of the things that I used to get so upset with is in the old process before Concur was that people would always blame accounts payable for their documents not getting processed in a timely fashion and their checks always took between three and four weeks to get paid. So there was never any accountability and it was always just AP’s fault. With Concur, with the audit trails, you can go in and follow the audit trail on any particular document to find out when it was put in, who put it in, how many places it stopped on the workflow trail, how long it sat in each inbox, approval box and you can dispute those people now when they say AP takes three to four weeks to pay someone. So to me, that’s transparent.



Concur: We see that you are using Concur Service Administration Elite. Can you tell us a little about that?

Lisa: Concur Service Administration Elite helps me on a monthly basis keep up to date with the new releases and how those new releases are going to either benefit me or not. And that’s another time saving process because I don’t have to go through all of the notes and try to figure out which one of the updates refer to me, or refer to our configuration.



Concur: Okay, last question, Lisa. What is The Perfect Trip to you?

Lisa: The perfect trip to me would be to have everything, from start to finish, electronic. From the beginning of trip where you get your airfare all the way to the end where you take the cab home. Concur has that capability and so, they are very much able to produce a perfect trip.


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