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How to successfully transform financial management processes in your business

Businesses that can gain visibility into expenditure, automate spend management and achieve effective governance of spending policies can achieve stronger cash flow. But, for many companies, getting a tighter grip on corporate spending can present a daunting challenge.

For example, Concur’s recent ANZ spend management index found that, while 82 per cent of respondents have a formal expenses policy in place, only 71 per cent say employees always comply with the policy. While 12 per cent said their employees complied sometimes, that left seven per cent of organisations who simply didn’t know whether employees were complying or not.

Concur customer, Automotive Holdings Group Limited (AHG), overcame cultural and technological barriers to successfully transform its expense management, implementing strong governance and visibility and achieving significant savings as a result.

The company implemented Concur’s travel and expense management solution to help set policies and parameters around spending, and to deliver automation and better visibility into spending and reimbursement activities.

Andrew Chilcott, Head of Management Accounting (AHG) said, “Concur’s mature offering and exceptional user experience meant it was the ideal solution for our needs.”

“While the solution was ideal, Automotive retailing is a conservative industry and the transformation team faced significant challenges to implement change which meant redesigning expense management processes from the ground up”. Therefore, Andrew and his team developed a strategic approach that would reduce the implementation risk and achieve results faster.

The first step was to identify and neutralise potential project-killers such as competing internal priorities and implementation burnout and ensure that support was garnered from high-ranking managers.

They needed to find the path of least resistance and let the Concur solution prove itself in the organisation. Once the early adopters had achieved results, they could then be used as a proof of concept to get other divisions on board.

With a small team consisting of a Project Manager (Luciano Albaytero) and Project Accountant (Chris Westcott) and more than 180 dealerships to cover, the implementation plan needed to be highly targeted to achieve quick wins and gain momentum.

In deciding where to roll out the solution first, the team targeted those business units where managers had expressed an interest in the solution, where the biggest risk factors were in play, or where the team could deliver the biggest financial impact.

It was essential to use facts and data to convince the sceptics, rather than simply anecdotal evidence. Using a technology solution like Concur let AHG drill down into information and use dashboards and other reports to build a strong, fact-based argument for change. In the past, behaviour or numbers were debateable, but using Concur, the team had undisputable data.

“If the team had simply demanded compliance from the start, it would have backfired. Instead, we went with an iterative approach so we could learn, make small modifications, and then take the project to the next level.”

Andrew’s team also had strong backing from the Board and Chief Financial Officer to roll out the Concur solution to the highest-risk groups. This made the team’s political position strong and maximised its chances of success.

Rather than simply implement a technology solution to automate existing, inefficient processes, AHG looked to completely transform its processes first, supported by the Concur solution. This started with  drafting new expense-related policies and procedures that would deliver the improved governance and cost savings. Using the Concur solution helped give this process a clear direction.

Using Concur as its technology solution, the team at AHG was able to transform its expense management processes enabling greater transparency and supporting improved decision making. AHG now has strong governance in place and has achieved the significant cost savings through efficiency and insight dividends that are so often the goal of any transformation.

Andrew Chilcott said, “This is a real business transformation and Concur is providing a strong framework.”

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