Big changes in the past several months among the major providers of expense management systems has put some companies in the market for new solutions.
In December, SAP completed its $8 billion acquisition of Concur Technologies, arguably a dominant player in the market for travel-and-entertainment systems after IBM earlier in 2014 ceased operation of its Global Expense Reporting Solutions as a standalone product. IBM formed a “strategic alliance” with Concur to refer its customers to Conur.
The shake-up has led up and comers like Chrome River, which snatched up IBM GERS talent when it became available in 2014, with its phones ringing off the hooks, say co-founders Dave Terry and Alan Rich. Chrome River hired IBM GERS veterans to help companies that wanted to transition to Chrome River’s online, automated expense management solution, the company says.
“The companies we’re seeing are global enterprises that sometimes grow organically, but a lot of times through acquisition,” says Rich. “That means a lot of backed-in solutions and a lot of different systems floating around with a lot of different policies.” When such companies face the latest shake-up and are forced into the market looking for new service providers, they are ripe for consolidation, streamlining, and modernization of systems and policies, he says.
Solutions have come a long way from spreadsheets with paper receipts stapled to them, says Terry. “The systems can ensure individual employees are complying with the policies and procedures of the specific organizations,” he says. “All the standard compliance is happening in real time.” Systems today can also handle tax requirements of multiple jurisdictions, as well as multiple currencies and languages, he says.
Newer systems also have the “redlight camera effect” when it comes to compliance, Terry says. “The visibility is there. I know my expense report is going to be more visible in the organization, seen on dashboards, routed on. People are becoming better stewards of the company’s checkbook by knowing something is being a little more monitored and scrutinized.”