SAP Concur’s cloud-based platform automates much of the previously laborious reporting requirements incumbent on finance departments’ spend management efforts
Under strain from a near-stagnant economy, South African businesses are under pressure to maintain high levels of business productivity while optimising spend across all areas of the business. Due to the increasingly global manner in which most businesses operate, business travel is a growing cost item, putting strain on internal resources who often have to apply time-consuming manual processes to managing travel and expense claims.
Angelique Montalto, regional sales director at SAP Concur, says the horror of finance teams wading through mountains of paper receipts to update unwieldly spreadsheets is no longer a reality for many businesses. “The cloud-based platform automates much of the previously laborious reporting requirements incumbent on finance departments. With greater visibility over spending than ever before, after and during a trip, and an extensive ecosystem of global partners introducing a constant stream of innovations to the platform, SAP Concur unlocks greater productivity and cost savings over manual processes.”
Growing cost, complexity of business travel
According to Statista, global business travel spend reached $1.33 trillion in 2017, a figure that’s expected to grow to $1.7 trillion by 2022 (although this projection was made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic).
“With the growing complexity of doing business and the increase in business travel, companies are seeking solutions that can ease and automate paper-based processes to free up valuable internal resources for more high-value work while gaining full visibility over all expenses,” explains Angelique. “This has made tools such as SAP Concur invaluable to businesses wishing to unlock greater productivity and optimize their spend management.”
SAP Concur is a cloud-based travel and expense management platform for global businesses that eases and automates many of the travel and expense management activities that put strain on companies’ internal resources. The platform was developed to ease the process of compliance and optimise spend management for businesses around the world.
SAP Concur enjoys the support of a healthy ecosystem of implementation partners that drive interest and adoption of the platform among local and global businesses. Montalto points to Supply Chain Partner, an experienced SAP Intelligent Spend Management partner that recently started implementing SAP Concur to its local and global customer base.
“Partners are critical within the SAP Concur ecosystem. Aside from driving interest in the market leading solution and managing the implementation process, they provide an invaluable perspective into the reality of spend management optimisation for local, pan-African and global businesses.”
Tools needed to automate, simplify spend management
Schalk Burger, director at Supply Chain Partner, says managing travel processes within large organisations is difficult, increasing the need for tools that ease and simplify overall spend management.
“We found that SAP Concur fills a clear gap within the market for managing expense claims in a simple and seamless way. While many spend management solutions are costly and have a lengthy implementation period, SAP Concur is different in that it offers quick time-to-value and a constant stream of benefits as the solution is implemented.”
Supply Chain Partner is a specialist implementer of supply chain solutions for global companies and was founded in South Africa in 2013. The company is one of the most experienced implementation partners for the SAP Intelligent Spend Group, with a client list that includes several blue-chip companies in the mining, energy, automotive and financial services industries. The company partnered with SAP Concur in 2019 and already has a track record of successful projects.
Schalk points to the rise of the Experience Economy as one factor driving uptake in solutions such as SAP Concur. “It’s no longer just about the customer experience: companies also need to take care of the employee experience to ensure they can continue to attract and retain top talent. This means empowering employees with easy and intuitive self-service solutions that are accessible wherever they go and cut down on manual processes. Travel and expense claim management is an obvious target, as it’s traditionally a very time-consuming and hands-on function within the business. In fact, one survey found that 57 percent of work travelers prefer to book through a single app or tool.”
Building company policy into solution
Angelique adds that managing expense claims is one part of the challenge, but that enforcing company policy is equally important and often very difficult to do in a way that meets the expectations of both the company and the employee. In one survey, more than half of travellers admitted to not always following company policy when traveling.
“One of SAP Concur’s most powerful features is that companies can build their travel and expense claim policies directly into the solution,” says Angelique. “Corporate and regulatory compliance is managed at the point of impact as opposed to retrospectively. This streamlines the claim process and frees up internal audit resources to focus on more high-value work instead of manually approving or rejecting each claim.”
“One of our recent customers had relied entirely on manual processes. When an employee needed to travel for business, they would search online for a suitable flight, share that with the person responsible for making the booking, and they would then have to manually book the flight or incur the cost of working through a travel management company to make the booking. It was an exhaustive back-and-forth that has been completely eliminated since they implemented SAP Concur, with the employee able to search for and book the necessary travel arrangements, all aligned with company policy.”
Great partners unlock benefits, reduce complexity
Despite the ease of implementing SAP Concur and its quick time-to-value, Schalk points out that change management plays an important role in ensuring successful implementations. “For many customers, SAP Concur may be one of the first cloud-based solutions they implement. In business environments where on-premise solutions are the norm, we find strong change management capabilities invaluable in laying the foundation for moving to a more cloud-based environment.”
One of Supply Chain Partner’s clients, global automotive manufacturer Scania, attests to this. “The thought process behind Scania South Africa’s decision to transition to SAP Concur, was to improve process productivity, ensure governance and compliance and to further gain control over all expenses incurred by the business,” says Angus Kotze, CFO at Scania. “The seamless flow of data received introduces improved levels of transparency into business expenses. The SAP Concur way of working accelerates this flow of data and advances the expense management process holistically.”
He adds that it has been a pleasure working with the team from Supply Chain Partner, as their accessibility and knowledge of the SAP Concur product has allowed for higher levels of engagement and efficiency during the project implementation phase. “They have made each stage of the data gathering, analysis and testing of the project easy to digest and their consistent support has allowed for quick problem solving and turnaround times. The team from Supply Chain Partner have been fantastic to work with and we highly recommend their approach.”
This article first appeared on www.cfo.co.za.