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It is Imperative to Have the Right Tools, Policies, and Procedures in Place

Analysing the current business scenario, it is clear that the second-largest expense in any organization is the employee-initiated spend. But the good news is that, this could be avoided with the right tools. Joining in a candid conversation with Niloy Banerjee, BIS Infotech’s Consultant Editor, Neeraj Dotel, MD, India & SAARC, SAP Concur,talks about how SAP Concur helps organizations cut down on these frauds and expenses alongside giving out details about ‘Budget’ and other SAP offerings.

Neeraj Dotel SAARC
Neeraj Dotel, MD, India & SAARC, SAP Concur
  1. How SAP Concur offers real-time visibility and insight into spend data?

Employee-initiated spend is today the second-largest expense in any organization. These are spending categories, ranging from entertainment, travel, consulting, mobile charges, home and office expenses etc.

To help companies, effectively manage resources and make better decisions, SAP Concur has developed, ‘Budget’, a new solution that makes budget data visible real-time and actionable. Budget synthesizes data from SAP Concur solutions including Expense, Invoice, Purchase Request and Travel Request, creating a comprehensive dashboard for spend – before and after it occurs. As a result, finance leaders, sales leaders, and project managers can see spending events unfold. Collectively, each employee making better decisions leads to better overall financials and strengthens the bottom line.

Budget empowers everyone to see what’s happening, anticipate risks around the corner, and take action – before it’s too late. It’s holistic and flexible, whether companies map budgets to employees or to projects. Employees can finally be held accountable to eliminate overspending while gaining autonomy to proactively adjust spend to seize unexpected opportunities. SAP Concur enables companies to streamline the travel, expense and invoice process leading to improved compliance and control over expenditure. Our integrated solutions compare upcoming, actual and previous spend data; analyse company cash flow & working capital and eliminate error incidents.

  1. How it integrates with SAP ERP to pull info from all payment types and suppliers?

SAP Concur and SAP’s integration has given visibility into spend and payments in both SAP ERP and SAP Concur software, as well as boost network security and data integrity.

It’s now easy to achieve transparency across both systems since data is automatically updated across both. With the direct system-to-system connectivity, implementation is easier and so is the maintenance. And to users, the experience feels seamless, as if they’re operating in one single system.

Here are some of the salient features:

  • Integration of the SAP Concur Expense report, user profiles, list data, invoices and cash advances with the SAP ERP system
  • Automated replication of employee and cost object master data
  • Automated transfer and posting of the expense report, cash advances and invoices into the SAP ERP Financials solution
  • Clear error tracking through a feedback channel for status and error messages
  • Root cause analysis of issues
  • Enhanced expense report and invoice status management in SAP Concur software with “fix the error and resend” capability
  1. How ConcurExpense automatically creates an audit trail for every employee-initiated transaction. In addition, Concur Audit offers objective third-party auditors trained on company policies?

Concur Expense uses machine learning in conjunction with Office 365 to create expense report entries directly from an emailed receipt. With Concur Expense, there is no need to hang on to save paper expense receipts or invoices. E-receipts capture electronic transaction data directly from airlines, hotels, and car-rental companies, so line item details are automatically uploaded into the expense report. Travelers can also take photos of receipts with their smartphone making expense tracking, reimbursement, and reporting much easier.

We recognized that the tactical functions of a physical audit can be cumbersome, time-consuming and costly. To save time and increase efficiency, we created an Audit Service that provides support specifically around the expense report process.

The sole focus of our Audit Service is to understand a firm’s corporate travel and expense policy inside out. Travel and entertainment expense transactions are verified against the criteria that a company pre-define so that they can still maintain the control. With pre-defined audit rules in place, you’re assured that your company’s personalized business rules are followed each and every time we audit.

Plus, our auditing experts give them the reporting information which helps companies make decisions, identify trends, and help enforce compliance. Some of the other benefits of our Audit Services include:

  • Visibility – Discover accurate T&E spend data that helps in identifying trends and make more informed financial decisions
  • Control – Specify required fields for claims and use our audit team as a second pair of eyes to check for errors
  • Compliance – Share T&E policy so we can identify non-compliant spend, request justification and keep the regulating authorities happy
  1. How do you see the travel and expense management software market growing in India? Major clients, you’re working with?

The Travel and expense industry is evolving in response to the growth of mobile technology.  With an increase in business Travel across both domestic and international markets companies are realizing the need to modernize tools and programs for improved efficiency.

A study by GBTA foundation explores that direct booking behavior in employees is becoming increasingly popular, with nearly 40% of business travelers regularly contacting the suppliers directly.

A report by ResearchAndMarkets.com states that Global travel and expense management software market will grow at a CAGR of 7.66% during the period 2017-2021.

Some of the companies that are using SAP Concur Technologies solutions are Welspun, Marico, Dun, and Bradstreet (D&B) India, Cognizant, Agilent Technologies etc.

  1. How is SAP Concur revving up for the said “Digital Transformation”? What challenges and scopes does it incur, perspective to India?

We at SAP Concur believe that digital transformation of an organization should be such that it is easy and intuitive to use and the people using it should be able to reap its benefits. We provide CFOs with advanced solutions that automatically synchronize financial data of the entire spend process. The automation of these processes enhances the experience of business travel, reduces time, and increases transparency and visibility.

Post GST implementation, Indian companies have become very sensitive and are on the lookout to reduce investments and operational costs.  SAP Concur’s automated invoicing solutions have helped companies recover Input Tax, taking companies of all sizes and stages beyond automation to a completely connected spend management solution. We thus see a huge potential in the Indian market with the SAP Concur app integration, employees also enjoy more flexibility and effortlessly manage their business travel and expense while being location independent, through our exceptional end-user experience.

  1. Which sectors are of your major focus in India?

We work with manufacturing, financial services, and consulting services sector.

  1. Why businesses need the right tools, policies, and procedures to bring risks under control?

With business expansion it gets more difficult to watch out for every dollar and every person who has access to the corporate coffers. And with seemingly daily changes to the regulations that govern business keeping an eye on your spending and keeping up with policies and procedures can seem virtually impossible.

To avoid T&E frauds, the simplest answer lies with using the corporate card. When travellers charge expenses directly to the company, they’re not accidentally entering incorrect numbers into their expense reports and leading auditors astray. There’s little room for error, and the firms get far more detailed and accurate figures. So once again, you can focus on fraudulent behavior.

Shaping your T&E policy around corporate card usage simplifies matters for a company and makes things easier for your employees, as well. It also makes it possible to prevent and/or flag expenses that fall out of policy.

With these types of policies in place—and a workforce that understands them—businesses can save money and separate well-intentioned employees who make mistakes from a few who look to outsmart the system.

Adopting a zero-tolerance policy and shining a light on fraudulent behaviour are the best things businesses can do to deter further fraud. And utilizing a third-party auditing lets you be the big brother without having to be the bad guy. With global business travel and varied spend on the rise, it is imperative to have the right tools, policies, and procedures in place. 

  1. Any recent successful case study you want to underline?

Ericsson, a telecommunications giant, with a presence in 175 countries and offices in 108 countries, was using multiple expense management systems – from manual to Web-based. This was costly and inefficient for Ericsson to manage. The company lacked control and had no means to track travel spend.

Ericsson looked for an on-demand global solution that would reduce costs and universally meet the needs of its employees. After a brief pilot, Ericsson implemented SAP Concur, a Web-based, on-demand service that streamlines and automates the expense process. As a global expense management solution, SAP Concur drives significant costs out of the expense process by automating the processes Ericsson uses to manage employee spend. In just the matter of a few months, Ericsson implemented SAP Concur in India, Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany.

Prior to using SAP Concur, Ericsson employees manually entered VAT, travel allowance, and currency rates into expense reports. With SAP Concur, VAT is automatically recorded and reported in both local and foreign VAT, travel allowance reimbursement rates are automatically presented, and currency rates are automatically captured. SAP Concur made it easy for Ericsson’s employees to complete their expense report quickly, with minimal effort.

With SAP Concur’s powerful reporting capabilities, Ericsson now has the ability to monitor the suppliers that employees frequently book. With SAP Concur, management can quickly analyze employee spend data to optimize supplier negotiations, spend management and fraud reduction.

  1. How is spend management disrupting the service-based sector especially public sector?

Within the public sector, many spend management and travel solutions that were adopted by organizations decades ago are now outdated, making financial control difficult. Implementing a modern, easy-to-use spend management solution can increase adoption and visibility into spending to insure visibility into every aspect of spending. With valuable insights, organizations can prevent duplicate payments, flag unusual transactions, or lead more informed negotiations to take advantage of discounted supplier rates. Automated compliance enforcement alerts allow public sector organizations to more easily adhere to government regulations – a process which is typically very time consuming.

 

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