Headquartered in Melbourne and operating mines around the world, Newcrest Mining was facing challenges in managing expenses across international teams comprised of fly-in-fly-out workers in remote locations
As a heavily-regulated industry, compliance is key for mining companies. However, the system Newcrest was using to manage its expenses relied heavily on slow manual processes with a high number of touchpoints for each expense report. Not only was this affecting efficiency and productivity, but it increased the risk of human error.
“At the end of the month, we would create a manual journal based on a download from the system. We also had to enter vendors manually, which was time consuming and fraught with errors,” explained Neil Sadler, Principal of Global Business Services Finance Operations at Newcrest.
Additionally, the lack of audit capability meant that every expense report had to be reviewed before being approved by a manager. According to Neil, “one of the things we encountered was that the managers were just approving the expense reports without delving into whether it was the right receipt or if we could claim GST.”
“I think one of the things that we’ve tried to do by bringing on Concur is make the business experience for our employees as easy and user friendly as possible. So this is definitely a lot more automated and there’s less chance of error” Neil Sadler, Principal (Global Business Services Finance Operations), Newcrest Mining.
Newcrest had a need for a system that could provide them with better solutions for compliance, particularly concerning statutory and taxation requirements. The previous system lacked the capability to seamlessly integrate with the team’s ERP system (managed by SAP) and did not allow for the customisation of business and compliance rules within the system, leading to further inefficiencies. Secondly, the absence of a user-friendly experience in the previous system, which was manual and lacked audit tools, posed significant hurdles for employees out in the field.
To achieve their dual objectives, Newcrest sought an end-to-end expense management solution that could integrate data into the broader SAP ecosystem and provide a mobile application for their remote workforce. SAP Concur provided the best solution that could expand to other markets, while allowing the team to add their own rules and policies which often differ site to site.
Automating and streamlining processes
In 2019, Newcrest put a working group together, which brought the implementation of SAP Concur solutions into the business across the globe. With a remote workforce and employees who travel regularly, the company’s main priority was simplifying and streamlining expenses.
“The main function we use is ExpenseIt in the mobile app, which allows people to take a photo of their invoice or receipt. That then automatically links through to the expense item in Concur Expense, making expense reports a lot easier,” Neil said.
Because SAP Concur integrates into the SAP HR system, every employee has automatic access and a vendor account linked to payroll – without needing a separate account and password. Once expenses are online, each expense report is audited by the SAP Concur team before being sent to the manager for approval.
Neil said, “The big benefit for us has been linking through to our SAP modules where there’s an automated daily feed of the approved expense report into our general ledger. This eliminates the need for manual intervention, which is a great boost to productivity.”
SAP Concur has enabled Newcrest to automate other processes as well. For example, when employees accidentally use their corporate card for private expenses – a mistake which can happen – these are coded as private expenses, triggering a pop-up with the bank account and BSB details to credit back into the Newcrest bank account. Where expenses are late or money is still owed, a letter is automatically emailed to the user after a defined period.
The company has now enhanced the user experience, making it as quick and simple as possible. Employees are no longer required to upload their travel expense documents or invoices which are already stored in a database by a partner travel company. “We’ve set in the system that travel doesn’t need to have the invoice attached, and the expense will still go through,” Neil said.
Employees frequently travel with Uber for Business – previously, employees used to be emailed an invoice which wasn’t GST compliant. Now the team has organised that with all Uber expenses, the invoice is automatically linked into the expense in Concur Expense. This has not only simplified expense reporting and auditing, resulting in positive feedback from users, but also allows the company to track emissions for different vehicles used with Uber.
Neil commented, “From a sustainability reporting perspective, that’s a huge benefit.”
But one of SAP Concur’s major advantages is the ability to set controls and compliance, tailored to the unique needs of the organisation. “There are lots of different business rules you can set, and each company will have its own,” Neil explained.
By partnering with SAP Concur, Newcrest’s finance team can rest easy knowing every expense report is audited by SAP Concur. The team has also partnered with local banks (NAB in Australia and HSBC in overseas sites) to make sure that the feed from the bank will feed through to SAP Concur for expense management and costing purposes.
The audit team can now give warning messages to those who overspend. The team has the ability to restrict the amount of expense types they have in Concur Expense to make it even more specific. Finance also has a monthly check where they will go through any item over $5,000 that sits in Concur Expense and check whether the vendor already exists in their database. If there are any issues that arise, they can then ensure the end user is educated on the process.
At the same time, SAP Concur’s Consultative Intelligence function delivers rich data insights for strategic managed reporting. With total visibility over end-to-end expense management, it’s easy to see where delays and bottlenecks are occurring in terms of getting expenses in and managers giving approval – resulting in a seamless, streamlined reporting process.
“We’ve had an ATO audit, and without the processes around Audit with Concur, I’m sure we wouldn’t have had as good of a result as we did” Neil Sadler, Principal (Global Business Services Finance Operations), Newcrest Mining.
Ensuring a successful rollout
As a global organisation with a footprint in multiple continents, Newcrest had to decide on the best approach for rolling out the new technology right across the business – starting with the creation of a dedicated support team.
“When you set up the program, it’s really important to have a user group that reflects the business,” Neil said. “The first thing we did was get the IT team involved, because they’re the people you need to get the Concur system up and running and linked into our SAP system.”
It was imperative to Newcrest that they understood each of the different areas of the business and what they needed, as well as how to adapt the system to suit those needs – so they selected a representative from each site in the program to leverage their inside operational knowledge. Having this buy-in upfront proved critical to the success of the rollout.
This initial group of ‘super users’ became a valuable resource when it came to training employees in Concur Expense and providing technical support for any issues or problems they encountered. The business rules were also encoded in a document that sits in the portal, which any user can refer to at
Newcrest decided to launch at a single site to iron out any issues before rolling it out to other sites. This also reduced the administrative burden – allowing the admin team to focus their energies in one area. “Having a strong admin team is really important,” Neil commented. “Our team in India do a fantastic job in supporting us, because they have the broad business knowledge of how to do things and what’s been done in the past.”
The team carried out testing on their pilot site so they could work through their business rules and embed them into the system. As each site required different rules and policies, the team worked with people in those locations to ensure employees were properly trained on how to utilise the solution.
Neil recommends that other companies adopt a similar approach when it comes to implementing SAP Concur solutions. “Take your time, you don’t need to rush into this. Go slowly, have a pilot site, get a group together which covers everyone in the business. But most importantly, make sure you have gathered and understood all the business rules you require.”
“Concur has been really valuable in helping us understand our business and our expenses. We’ve had great support from the team along the way and we’re so pleased with the results” Neil Sadler, Principal (Global Business Services Finance Operations), Newcrest Mining.