Oribe makes high-end hair and beauty products, but its system to handle employee expenses was the equivalent of a comb-over in a windstorm -- a tangled mess. Sid Katari, CFO of the New York-based company, saw piles of forms and receipts, and employees frustrated by 30-day reimbursement times, and he got nervous. The company was growing fast -- in the past five years, workforce shot up from 50 to 200 and revenue grew annually by an average of 46 percent -- and “in a year or two,” he says, “our expense system was going to break.”
Before anything went bust, Katari discovered Concur Expense. “It has all these different modules that other providers don’t offer, that we could add to meet our needs,” he says. Concur is a cloud-based open platform that easily works with older systems, giving it the ability to, say, capture business credit card charges and then automatically process them into a report. (Or an employee can use its app to scan a receipt; the system does the rest). It also analyzes employees’ spending, so employers can look for savings.
Concur enforced Oribe’s travel-and-expense policies -- rules for travel per diem, preferred vendors and so on -- and over the next two years, Oribe’s per-employee expenses dropped 15 to 20 percent. That easily covers the fee Concur charges for each transaction. What’s more, reimbursement time shrunk from a month to just a few days. Now Oribe is testing a Concur feature that rewards employees for cost-efficient travel. “This is the kind of forward-thinking functionality that I don’t think a business like ours could administer ourselves,” Katari says.
A second opinion
There’s almost no downside to replacing paper shuffling with a paperless expense-management system, says Derek Smith, a managing director at Huron Consulting Group. But to get the full benefits, he says, investigate these features: how well the new system can enforce your company’s policies, its ability to gather and analyze data, and how employee-friendly its mobile app is. It’s important to know what you need, since every system is different.