As companies face unrelenting pressure to reduce administrative costs, new technologies are offering solutions to improve age-old business processes. A recent example where the Just Born Finance Team reinvented and streamlined an antiquated business process involved the implementation of SAP Concur, a cloud-based travel booking, and expense management tool.
Just Born’s legacy expense management process involved paper reporting with manual inputs into an Excel-based document that accumulated and calculated expenses. Submissions were often fraught with calculation errors and missing receipts, making the reporting and review process a significant source of frustration - both for associates seeking reimbursement and for the Finance Team responsible for reviewing, verifying and processing those reimbursements.
Intending to improve this process, Just Born implemented SAP Concur, one of several travel and expense management systems on the market. The new technology and streamlined processes enable associates to manage their travel itineraries (flights, hotel, and car rental) and submit business expenses through a cloud-based system. While the Finance Team initiated the project to improve the responsible approval and reimbursement process, the most significant efficiencies have been realized by the Company’s regular business travelers. The new system allows travelers to create and submit their expenses on-the-go using the mobile-based app - they particularly appreciate the ease of taking pictures of their receipts with their mobile devices. The easy to use mobile technology has drastically reduced their administrative time after completing travel, resulting in improved timeliness and accuracy of expense reporting.
Just Born associates traveling on company business have benefited from the integration of a third-party travel management service within the system. For a nominal fee, associates booking travel through the SAP Concur system are seamlessly routed through a travel management partner, which can provide critical and timely travel assistance services when travel plans are interrupted or need to be changed. This integration helps Just Born provide a duty of care to its associates, ensuing that a travel professional is monitoring travel itineraries, and is available 24/7 to ensure associates get to their destination in a safe and time-ef fective manner.
Managers responsible for oversight and approving expense reports of their direct-reports have also benefited from the new technology, as the system eliminates duplicate reimbursement requests and other reporting errors. Managers receive e-mail alerts notifying them when they have an expense report to electronically approve, speeding up the time required for review and processing.
Implementing a travel and expense management system has considerably improved Just Born’s financial processes and controls. From a controls perspective, the system enables the Finance Team to enforce Travel and Entertainment policies and guidelines by establishing rules and dead-stops within
the system. Associates are notified if they exceed spending limits within a specific category, and may be prompted to provide additional rationale or documentation. With direct integration to Just Born’s ERP software, the accuracy of financial data has improved, and there are fewer opportunities for clerical errors. The system also provides robust new reporting capabilities not available with the old paper process. Finance can now execute reports for any time range, filter by the employee, department, or cost type, or even analyze spending trends for a chosen vendor such as a hotel chain, airline or car rental agency. These reporting capabilities enable the Finance Team to streamline the processes for expense accrual and improved the effectiveness of Just Born’s travel and entertainment-related spending.
All businesses are looking for ways to “do more with less,” and this is just one of many examples of how Just Born’s Finance Team has sought to implement new technologies to reduce administrative and overhead costs and improve organizational efficiencies. While end-users of new technologies are often resistant to change, technologies that are embraced by end-users provide the highest ROI to the business – and it is with the end-user in mind that Just Born’s Finance Team seeks opportunities to implement new finance and accounting related technologies.