University expands automated travel and expense system, launches foreign per diem
When the U-M Health System and the Office of University Development begin using Concur, U-M’s automated travel and expense system, this week, more than 40 percent of the university will be using the tool.
In addition, a revised universitywide Travel and Business Hosting Expense Policy, which launched along with Concur in fall 2009, has been expanded to include a per diem (specified dollar amount per day) system for employees traveling to foreign countries on university business.
Feedback helps university fine-tune Concur
The School of Dentistry, Finance, Information and Technology Services, the School of Information, the School of Social Work, University Audits as well as selected departments within the Medical School and LSA, have been using Concur for several months.
“The feedback from these initial users has been invaluable in helping us refine and fine-tune the system as part of our process to introduce the rest of the university to Concur,” says Nancy Hobbs, interim director of procurement services. “Concur has been very well received by our users and we want to thank them for both embracing the system and for their efforts to help improve the tool and our training process for the rest of the university community. ”
As a result of input from the units and departments that have been using Concur for several months, a number of changes have been made. They range from adjusting training materials to modifying the configuration of the tool itself.
“Through the end of May, over 7,000 expense reports totaling more than $7 million have been processed through Concur, with an average reimbursement time of three days after final approval,” says Hobbs. “And, later this year, the remaining schools and colleges will begin using the tool. Our plans call for the entire university to be using Concur by early 2011.”
Per diem system now in place for foreign travel
The revised Travel and Business Expense Hosting policy included a per diem system for meals and incidental expenses (not lodging) incurred in the United States by employees traveling on university business.
Over the past several months, Procurement Services has carefully monitored the impact of the domestic per diem on units and determined that now is an appropriate time to implement a per diem for employees traveling to foreign countries on behalf of the university.
“We appreciate the support that units have demonstrated for the domestic per diem system and have advised the Budget Advisory Group, Financial Unit Liaisons as well as deans, directors, and department heads about the foreign per diem,” Hobbs says.
Hobbs added that while this type of travel is not widespread across the university, a per diem system for foreign travel, much like the university’s domestic per diem, brings the U-M more in line with its peer institutions. The foreign per diem policy, which is effective July 15, incorporates the same guidelines that apply to the domestic per diem.
While the foreign per diem method will be implemented on July 15, some trips already under way may conclude after the go-live date. In these cases, the former method of reporting actual meal costs can be used for the entire trip. Similarly, if units have summer trips planned and the travelers no longer are in their home offices, the actual costs of meals can be reported for these trips.
Questions about Concur and/or the revised Travel and Business Hosting Expense Policy should be directed to the Procurement Solutions Team at 734-764-8212, option 1. Or, go to the Travel and Expense website a www.procurement.umich.edu/travelexpense.html for more information including FAQs, forms, and other helpful tools.