Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Universitywide rollout of Concur wraps up on schedule

Every unit at the university now is using Concur, the institution's travel and expense system for employees. The phased rollout to the university concluded in February when UM-Dearborn, UM-Flint and the remaining units in Ann Arbor began using the system.

 

Click here for more information about Concur.

The implementation of Concur began in fall 2009 with a pilot program and gradually was expanded to the entire university.

"Migrating to a system like Concur can be challenging, particularly in an organization as large and complex as the university, and it's not uncommon to encounter issues along the way," Rowan Miranda, associate vice president for finance, says.

Miranda says feedback from users during the rollout process enabled the implementation team to do everything from adjusting training materials to modifying the configuration of the tool itself, so that each new unit using the system had a better experience with Concur.

"We had nearly 130 unit-readiness sessions, interchanges, brown bags and other meetings to introduce Concur to the university community. This was a team effort and the support we received across the institution played an integral role in the project's overall success and on-schedule completion. We have much more work to do, but the units' ongoing commitment to using the system and their continued feedback will enable us to keep improving Concur," Miranda says.

Miranda adds that Concur has been well received across the university, and units appreciate the benefits offered by the system.

Among other things, Concur:

• Significantly reduces the amount of time necessary for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

• Strengthens compliance with university policies and guidelines.

• Automates cumbersome and time-consuming steps associated with making travel arrangements. It also eases tracking, managing and reconciling of travel, hosting, P-Card and reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses.

• Takes advantage of the university's volume purchasing power to provide better pricing to units and departments on everything from airfare to accommodations.

• Provides a versatile suite of tools that helps employees satisfy the university's internal control requirements for travel, hosting and out-of-pocket expenses.

• Allows units to have more current financial information since expenses hit the Statement of Activity Report immediately after final approval of an expense report. Under the previous system, expenses did not appear on the Statement of Activity Report until the P-Card cycle ended, which often resulted in a month delay.

A March 2011 report from the Aberdeen Group, a global IT research company, indicated that about 90 percent of those organizations considered best-in-class for travel and expense management use an automated travel and expense system.

These organizations attained a near 90-percent compliance rate to their travel and expense policies and a cost of approximately $7 to process a single expense report. Organizations not using automated systems may have compliance rates as low as 50 percent and can incur costs of more than $40 to process a single expense report.

These systems have been used by a variety of organizations for several years and now are being embraced by universities around the country. Yale University and the University of California-Berkeley, for example, recently implemented automated travel and expense systems as a part of their overall plans to become more efficient and contain costs.

"As a pilot group, the School of Social Work began using Concur in October 2009. We've found the system, as a whole, to be very user-friendly and we appreciate the quick reimbursement turnaround," says Candace E. Terhune, the school's director of administration, finance and general operations. "Concur also allows us to view expense reports online anytime, lets us see where an expense report is in the approval process, creates an audit trail, and offers detailed reporting capabilities through the data warehouse."

Miranda acknowledged the support and contributions of his co-sponsor for the project, Laura Patterson, associate vice president and chief information officer; Information and Technology Services; Nancy Hobbs, director of procurement services; the members of the Concur Steering Committee and Executive Leadership Team, the Project Team, as well as the Unit Rollout Leads.

"The commitment demonstrated every day by these individuals and teams was more than evident in every step of the Concur implementation process and I want to thank them for their dedication to this important project," Miranda says. "Moving forward, our focus will be on enhancing Concur's reporting capabilities as well as its travel functionality, but we are pleased with the foundation that the system has provided the university so far."